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What counts more in politics, brains or hair?
Several of my conservative friends were shocked last year by my assertion that Mitt Romney was the best choice for the Republican presidential nomination. My argument, however, had the virtue of simplicity: Romney is a tall, handsome, multimillionaire with a glorious mane of dark hair.
Considering that his leading rivals for the nomination at that time — John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson — were all in various stages of advanced baldness, the former Massachusetts governor’s thick hair constituted his chief qualification. Also, his chiseled jaw and his Hollywood-perfect smile. Fred might be a movie star, but Mitt looked like a movie star.
“But … Mitt’s a flip-flopper!” howled my friends.
“Yes, a very telegenic flip-flopper,” I replied. “Give me a good-looking flip-flopper over a bald old maverick any day of the week.”
This is not an endorsement of unprincipled flip-flopping, just an argument for assessing candidates the way independent “swing” voters assess candidates.
Let’s face it: Nominating a superficially attractive, rhetorically vague and ideological nebulous candidate didn’t hurt the Democrats this year, did it?
Swing voters are notoriously superficial. They believe they can judge a man’s fitness for office by watching him talk on TV. This fact frustrates politicians who don’t look good talking on TV, but it’s true.
The president is a television character, and the voters are casting agents. The American people went to the polls on Nov. 4 and cast Will Smith/Lawrence Fishburne in the role. Who can blame them, since the Republican Party sent Don Rickles/Tim Conway to the audition?
Trivia time: What was John McCain’s best demographic? White voters 65 and older, who went 58 percent for their fellow AARP member. Whatever else he did wrong, he didn’t lose the geezer vote. Losing Florida by 200,000 votes was bad, but just imagine how much worse it would have been had it not been for McCain’s advantage among the elderly.
Exit-poll data is insufficiently detailed to allow a completely
superficial analysis of the electorate, but the fact that old
candidates do best with old voters and black candidates do best
with black voters (95 percent went for Obama) suggests that the
GOP scored well this year among the short, the bald and the
EXCUSE MY JOCULARITY about all this, but I’m in a silly mood, having just read David Brooks’s declaration in the New York Times that John McCain’s defeat has inaugurated a “fight over the future of conservatism” between Traditionalists and Reformers.
Our own R. Emmett Tyrrell was quoted as an emblematic Traditionalist, while several fashionable young authors were classified as Reformers by Brooks, who insists this Republican defeat can be blamed on conservatives who “continue to insult the sensibilities of the educated class and the entire East and West Coasts.”
So if I’m in a mood for mockery, don’t blame me, blame Their Mister Brooks. And don’t blame him, really, since he’s merely trying to justify his salary.
The self-interest of intellectuals demands that they portray every election as fraught with existential significance, an honest-to-goodness Hegelian shift in the zeitgeist. Divining the zeitgeist and integrating the latest paradigm shift into our weltanschauung is the stock-in-trade of intellectuals, and if all that elevated cogitation could produce an extra 207,000 Republican votes in Ohio, maybe I would give a damn. But it can’t and I don’t.
The economy sucks, the war in Iraq is costing us about $5 billion
a week, the deficit’s out of control, and every time you turn on
the TV, another giant corporation is either declaring bankruptcy
or getting a bailout from the taxpayers. You don’t need an
intellectual to tell you why this was a tough year to be a
Republican, but that’s not going to stop the pointy-heads from
explaining What It Really Means.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online