What the other candidates look like

Well, I certainly got some reactions on that last one, some quite condemnatory. It makes me wonder — would these folks have reacted so vehemently if they had heard me share that cultural association with regard to Gov. Palin, face-to-face? Probably not. Even as she was speaking — I had flipped on the little TV outside my office to listen while going back and forth getting work done — I had given her a glance and shared that observation with Cindi. Cindi paused in what she was doing only long enough to glance at the tube, and correct my facts — I had described her hair as looking as though she had quickly pinned it up atop her head to get it out of her way while getting work done, and Cindi informed me that she had paid good money to get her hair done that way.

Which of course changes nothing. The point in the end is that Sarah Palin apparently puts her hair up in a way that looks pragmatic and businesslike to ME, and wears Serious Eyeglasses rather than contacts, as a deliberate statement meant to balance her beauty. It’s a way of being taken seriously. And for those of you so deeply offended on gender grounds, men do the same thing — they wear suits.

Would it make y’all feel better if I describe some of the other figures in terms of snap judgments based on their appearances? OK, I will. It won’t be quite the same, of course, because a beautiful woman evokes a response that’s unlike any you get with a man or a less-attractive woman — something that I believe Sarah Palin understands well enough to hide some of that light under a bushel. OK, here we go:

  • Let’s start with Joe Biden. Joe’s a nice-looking guy, don’t you think? He’s got a smile that couldBiden_grin_2
    light up a stadium (what does he use on those teeth?). Joe sort of radiates "politician" — more specifically, Irish politician. Loads of Blarney, but I mean that in a good way — I enjoy hearing Joe talk, up to a point (the point is when — and I’ve had this happen a couple of times — I speak to him more than once in a week, and he starts telling me the same anecdote that he told me the other time). Beyond that, he projects something else that apparently is inconsistent with his working-class background: He looks Patrician. If he’s Irish, you think, he’s certainly not shanty Irish. Lace-curtain all the way. Shows how looks can deceive.
  • John McCain looks like what he is — the aging fighter jock. He’s got the build, the bantam-rooster feistiness, however wracked by old wounds. He has a pretty bright grinMccain_grin
    of his own, but it’s of a different quality from Biden’s. Biden’s grin is of the master salesman about to close a deal. McCain’s is about cockiness, the cockiness of the Naval Aviator. That cockiness seems to have gone into his pick of his Veep candidate. He’s saying, I don’t particularly need a vice president; I plan on sticking around, so experience and qualifications didn’t matter. Might as well pick somebody who pleases all those whiners in my base and maybe peels off some of the more emotional HIllary supporters, the ones for whom it was all about her being a woman. This is a quality that strikes his supporters as reassuring confidence, and his detractors as obnoxiousness.
  • Barack Obama… well, my first reaction is that he does not fit a type at all. He’s unique. He, too, has a winning grin, but he doesn’t use it all that much; his stock persona isObama_serious
    deeply serious. But then I remember that there is ONE sort of character that he does sometimes remind me of, and it’s completely in tune with that seriousness. I mentioned it to my wife the other night: He looks like something out of the early 60s, particularly one of the young Best and Brightest of the Kennedy Administration. I had trouble saying WHY he looked that way — was it the cut of his suits? Were his ties that narrow? Was it the way he rolls up the sleeves of his white dress shirts? My wife said it was his thinness — people are bulkier than that these days. His thinness makes him look like he’s from another era. Maybe. Of course, if you wanted to play on the race thing, you could say he’s like Sidney Poitier (60s again) in either "To Sir With Love" or "In the Heat of the Night." The "black" guy who comes across as whiter, as more Establishment, more conservatively attired and carefully spoken, than any white guy you ever saw.
  • If you want to go farther afield, you could say Hillary Clinton is the "Smartest Kid in the Class (Just Ask Her; She’ll Tell You)," the one who absolutely has to get the best grades — also the one who takes names of those who misbehave if the teacher leaves the room, and gives a full report when the teacher returns. BILL Clinton is the clever wastrel who is probably at the top of the list of defaulters she gives the teacher — the kid who’s just as smart, but wastes it on trying to be the class clown, or the most popular kid in the school. Funny thing about Bill — I had seen him around for years. I first saw him in person back in 1978, and he had this manner about him that caused me to read him all wrong. I would have pegged him as the child of privilege, the fair-haired one who could do no wrong and loved life because everything went his way. It really shocked me to learn that he didn’t come up that way, because he projects that kind of guy. That’s one thing he and Joe sort of have in common.

So there you go — shallow, quick-impression assessments of all the major characters. None of them are exactly sitcom characters, but I worked with what I had.

16 thoughts on “What the other candidates look like

  1. COL. A.M.Khajawall [Ret]

    Dear concerned citizens of America and mass media of the U.S.A.
    As a concerned disabled American Veteran and American citizen, I consider it my duty and responsibility to address the following critical issues facing the voters of our Greatgrand nation, the United States of America [USA].
    The citizens of the United States of America [USA] have the ultimate power and responsibility to elect the Right Ticket with the right joint “temperament, judgment, and statesmanship” to lead our nation as well as change our nation’s present and future moral, political, economic, educational, health care, energy, military, and foundational soul.
    In my firm professional, personal, and political opinion, the media should help the common voter to explore and discuss the following attributes of the present Republican and Democratic presidential slates:
    1. Does the joint ticket have a calm, cool, and collected ” temper and impulse” [Presidential Temperament]?
    2. Does each ticket have sound and sustained “Judgment and Caliber”?
    3. Does each ticket have a “presidential depth and degree” in regard to their purpose, policies, and positions?
    4. Does each ticket have adequate, “understanding and knowledge” of workings around Washington”?
    5. Does each ticket have enough “vigor, wisdom and Vision” for the future of our beloved Great-grand Nation?
    6. Does each ticket possess enough joint foreign policy experience and ex-poser based on “American Values, Virtues, Vastness, and strong soul”?
    7. Are their campaign talk, slogans, ads, plans, and programs based on facts and are they free of fear, fiction, frivolous labels, unfair attacks, negativity, and impulsivity?
    If your answer to a majority of the above questions is yes, I suggest you vote for that ticket. As a Independent registered voter I have decided to vote for Obama-Biden ticket. I am sure they will protect our national security, Strong’s, stamina and strong soul. Rebuild our nation from bottom up in all areas of need, OBAMA-BIDEN ticket will once again restore and rebuild our global standing with the use of maximum international humane diplomacy and minimal force if and when indicated.
    Yours sincerely,
    COL. A.M. Khajawall [Ret] MD., Forensic psychiatrist, Colonel, US-AR / MC Combat Stress Control[Ret], Disabled American Veteran and Iraq Freedom team.

  2. John

    How did you manage to make such a joke of yourself? Your blog is a blight on an already terrible newspaper. When will an adult take charge? What JUVENELIA!

  3. faust

    I think coming along after the fact to give us unsolicited opinions about others is a weak and spectacularly transparent attempt to put lipstick on a pig. You screwed up. You let the mask slip, and for a moment the ugly truth about Brad Warthen was exposed for all to see.
    I think you’d have done better to just leave things alone. Seems to me what you attempted above makes it worse. And unfortunately, no amount of cosmetic flummery is going to change who or what you really are.
    You tipped your hand Brad. That’s a tough bounce for a guy who thinks like you do.

  4. george32

    maybe your comment about Clinton summarizes the problem with judging people based on their physical appearance or do you focus on Jackson’s emaciation, Lincoln’s gangliness, Taft’s obesity, Roosevelt’s wheelchair, Reagan’s miraculous hair color, etc. perhaps we are better off judging people on their writings/actions when evaluating candidates or criminals-think Stephen Beckham’s preppiness, Ted Bundy’s handsomeness, Al Parrish’s jovial obesity and so on.

  5. p.m.

    Obama looks like a Duke basketball player, or Tiger Woods before he added weight training to his PGA Tour regimen, though Obama appears to be in little wise athletic.
    And he does fit a type, maybe even as the archetype. He’s the Harvard black guy.

  6. Lee Muller

    What Brad Warthen looks like:
    An editor with nothing of value to say about the real issues surrounding Sarah Palin.
    Someone who made some silly, sexist remarks, is too arrogant to apologize and retract, and is trying to come up with some more silly comments about the other candidates in a vain attempt to dilute his folly.

  7. bud

    Brad’s got his un-Party. I think I’ll form the Gridlock party. Libertarians would love this. A congress griped by intransigence on both sides couldn’t pass unnecessary and even dangerous legislation that would reek havoc on our economy or cause us un-necessary foreign policy disasters. The president’s job would be to look out for legitimate threats to our security and marshall the necessary forces to deal with those threats. The August 2001 Presidential daily briefing is a case in point. But the POTUS would have his hands tied so he couldn’t play cowboy by getting us into unnecessary foreign adventures. That would have kept us out of Vietnam, Lebanon and especially Iraq. We wouldn’t be a part of NATO since congress would have never granted such authority. Nor would we be pushing this ridiculous plan to base missiles in Poland.
    Yup, this is the way to go – gridlock. When there is no problem we won’t feel obligated to make things up. (I may have trouble getting my four point health care plan passed but as the Gridlock POTUS at least I won’t be squandering the American people’s future on stupid wars that only make us less secure). Who will join me in an effort to ensure our government remains in gridlock?

  8. bud

    John McCain has apparently picked just the right running mate. She too knows how to laugh when a political opponent is called a bitch. An excerpt from the Huffington Post:
    Early on in the conversation before Palin started to crack up, Lester referred to Sen. Green as a jealous woman and a cancer. Palin, who knows full well Lyda Green is a cancer survivor, didn’t do what any decent person would do, say, “Bob, that’s going too far.”
    But as the conversation moved on, Lester intensified his attack on Green.
    Lester questioned Green’s motherhood, asking Palin if the senator cares about her own kids. Palin laughs.
    Then Lester clearly sets the stage for what he is about to say by warning his large audience and Palin. He says, “Governor you can’t say this but I will, Lyda Green is a cancer and a b—-.” Palin laughs for the second time.

  9. Brad Warthen

    bud, you’re confusing me. You’ve mentioned this gridlock thing before. Does this mean you’re backing McCain now? Because most people consider it a foregone conclusion that Democrats are going to increase their majorities in the Congress…

  10. Mike Cakora

    bud –
    Go read Jim Treacher:

    The biggest difference, as I see it, between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama?

    One of them is little more than an elegant, attractive, dare I say sexy piece of eye candy.
    The other one kills her own food.

  11. bud

    If you’re a Democrat Sarah Palin is the gift that just keeps on giving. We now have (1) trooper gate, (2) running for VP with a 5 months old special needs child (or is he a grandchild (3) husband charged with DUI (4) laughs when political opponent called a bitch (5) and now we have a 17 year old pregnant, unmarried daughter. This woman is nothing but Alaska trailer trash posing as a serious politician. Sarah Palin, you are no Hillary Clinton.

  12. bud

    The last time we had gridlock was in the 90s when Clinton was in charge and the GOP controlled congress. Result: soaring budget surpluses, peace and an improving life for all Americans. Today we have gridlock again and, so far, it’s kept us out of any new wars, we have a timeline to get out of Iraq, gasoline prices are falling and it appears the economy is starting to turn around. And perhaps most important social security is safe. I know this goes against conventional MSM spin but what’s not to like about Gridlock?

  13. Lee Muller

    Newt Gingrich had to “shut down the government” in order to get Clinton to reduce his deficit spending. Then Clinton claimed credit for reducing the deficit from $600 BILLION to $300 BILLION.
    After several vetoes, Clinton was forced to sigh Welfare Reform, then claimed credit for it.

  14. Lee Muller

    Anything to take your mind off real journalism, Brad, much less your discussing meaningful, factual issues.

  15. John P. Baker

    A person’s appearance has no relevence to what is important in a political campaign.
    Whether that person is white, black, asian, or purple is meaningless.
    What matters is their positions on the issues that are important to the voters.

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