Too Cute to Fail?

Surveying the 2012 Republican presidential field

The 2012 Republican presidential wannabes may not have Mount Rushmore-ready leadership skills, but they're an unusually fine-looking bunch of politicians.

And that’s not even counting two of the hottest, but as yet undeclared candidates: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the not-gay caballero on the Rio Grande, and former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin, the not-Tina Fey, briefly employed as Alaska’s chief executive.

Observing this mind-numbing, made for cable-babble political pageant, those in the business of reporting politics as a spectator sport might ask, “Are these future commanders-in-chief just too cute to fail?”

At least in my 64-year-old memory (a brain area not usually employed by the modern electorate), we have the most physically attractive line-up of potential presidents any political party has ever produced. Not just Perry and Palin, but Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman, too.

The rest of the field, unfortunately, look more like those science and math club members who couldn’t find a date to the prom. There’s the very white ex-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the clearly black pizza mogul Herman Cain, and veteran congressman and weird uncle-look-alike Ron Paul, plus the thoughtful, tri-athletic former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who smokes nothing more than salmon, but doesn’t mind if you do. Oops! I almost forgot former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who resembles the Pillsbury dough boy and whose politics are just as malleable.

Voters have always considered physical attributes when selecting a chief executive. For example, tall has always been in. An instructive Wikipedia article on presidential stature reveals that the average American male was slightly over five feet nine inches in 2005, but only 14 of our 43 presidents have been under five feet 10 inches while 18 have been 6 feet tall or more. We’ve always wanted to look up to our leaders, beginning with the father of our country, 6-foot-tall George Washington, the seventh-tallest president in history. Honest Abe Lincoln was an impressive six feet four inches, tied for tallest with overbearing Texan Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Imposing height was easy to convey, even in the non-visual, print-mediated political discourse of the first one and one-half centuries of the Republic, when leaders were nominated mostly by peers who had seen them in-person, and who then touted them in newspapers to the unwashed masses.

It could be just coincidence that the first television era, mass-communicated leader was a man with Hollywood good looks, the six-foot-tall John Fitzgerald Kennedy, with the lovely Jackie at his side. But it's probably more than likely a handsome, beautiful, or otherwise attractive face will become increasingly useful to would-be presidents, when we are digitally assaulted nearly every moment of our sleepless lives with youthful beauty. How much time do tens of millions of voters spend each day looking at the appropriately-named Facebook?

That doesn’t mean that a pretty face is the only thing that matters to the electorate. Most presidents have also been able to string seven words together to form a complete sentence (George W. Bush notwithstanding.) But since video killed both the print and radio stars of American politics in the late 1970's, no real dogs—other than actual cute puppies—have inhabited the White House.

So how will the top five real and potential candidates for the GOP nomination in 2012 fare in the upcoming beauty contest?

Romney and Perry both have square jaws and industrial-strength hair. Bachmann and Palin are cougar babes in anybody’s book. And Huntsman has the lean features and silver highlights of an aging rock star. That’s about as far as I wanna’ go with that, so you fill in the blanks.

Of course, a plain face with a brain could theoretically emerge as the Republican nominee. But it’s doubtful the Party of Lincoln will make the mistake they did in 2008, and nominate another short, pasty-faced old geezer. Not when the GOP has to run against the Jack-and-Jackie fashionistas now occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Terry Michael is director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism. His writing is collected at his "thoughts from a libertarian Democrat" website, www.terrymichael.net.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    But it’s doubtful the Party of Lincoln will make the mistake they did in 2008, and nominate another short, pasty-faced old geezer.

    The GOP establishment will nominate whoever's turn it is. I half expect to wake up after the primaries to find McCain once again somehow on the ballot.

  • ||

    Tim Pawlenty's wife is a superMILF.

    I really haven't seen any recent photos of her, though...

  • Neu Mejican||

    Tim Pawlenty's wife is a superMILF.

    ????

  • ||

    She can lift a car with her breasts.

  • Neu Mejican||

    cuz they double as good towing rope?

  • ||

    No, because they are prehensile, silly. And you call yourself a scientist. Pfft.

  • ||

    Neu, you and I are in complete agreement here.

    WHAT THE FUCK?!?

  • ||

    I tried doing a Google image link but it was marked 'spam'.

    'Mary Pawlenty' is her name for googlin'.

  • ||

    She doesn't look like a retard fuckbot like most politician wives.

  • ||

    She sounds like one when talks, however.

    "Jesus this, Jesus that, blah-blah'.

  • Mensan||

    Tim Pawlenty's wife is a superMILF.

    Really?

  • ||

    apparently only from a distance.

  • ||

    Ha! Like I said, I haven't seen any recent photos.

  • ||

    The GOP establishment will nominate whoever's turn it is.

    That would be Romney. There will be another epic battle between the Tea Partiers and the establishment over the next nominee.

  • SIV||

    I hope Perry splits the Romney vote. It will be fun watching the establishment trying to pressure one or the other out of the race to STOP BACHMANN !1!!

  • ||

    Your hardon for Bachmann is just unbelievably embarrassing. Stop while you're behind.

  • T||

    I'm holding out for Palin/Bachman ticket for one reason only: lulz. The frothing meltdown from the left would be fucking epic.

  • ||

    The frothing ejaculation from people like SIV on the right would also be fucking epic. It would be both massively entertaining and entirely terrifying.

  • SIV||

    ^It's already started^

    The frothing meltdown from the left would be fucking epic.

  • Tony||

    I think the left would throw the world's biggest party if that ticket were nominated.

  • ||

    I also hope Perry splits the Romney vote. crazy taxi game

  • ||

    Ron Paul reminds me of Prof. Erwin Corey.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Mongo,

    Ron Paul reminds me of Prof. Erwin Corey.


    "Don't hate me because I'm not beautiful. Love me because I'm principled!"

  • cynical||

    He needs to get a white beard and really get his Gandalf on. You know, so he can lead the Tea Party hobbits and whatnot.

  • ||

    Why are people talking about Romney's hair? It's good, not great.

    Now Rick Perry's hair....well, I'm a straight dood but I'd let him pound me silly (in the ass) just so I could run my hands through his hair.

  • Realist||

    "...well, I'm a straight dood..."
    Right!!!

  • Realist||

    Prof. Erwin Corey was lightyears ahead of chimp ears in intelligence..

  • ||

    Minor, temporary threadjack: Okay, does anyone know the source of Heinlein's famous quote, "Once you get to earth orbit, you're halfway to anywhere in the solar system"? The question was raised over at Transterrestrial Musings.

    I have a vague recollection of reading the line in one of his books, but I don't think it was in any of his fiction. Not really sure. Google has failed me so far. I'm fairly sure that it's a real quote, as it was bandied about and attributed to him during his lifetime.

  • ||

    Our very own Stevo Darkly attributes it to Heinlein via Jerry Pournelle as a conversation, not a published work.

  • ||

    Mr. Heinlein and I were discussing the perils of template stories: interconnected stories that together present a future history. As readers may have suspected, many future histories begin with stories that weren't necessarily intended to fit together when they were written. Robert Heinlein's box came with "The Man Who Sold the Moon." He wanted the first flight to the Moon to use a direct Earth-to-Moon craft, not one assembled in orbit; but the story had to follow "Blowups Happen" in the future history.

    Unfortunately, in "Blowups Happen" a capability for orbiting large payloads had been developed. "Aha," I said. "I see your problem. If you can get a ship into orbit, you're halfway to the Moon."

    "No," Bob said. "If you can get your ship into orbit, you're halfway to anywhere."

    He was very nearly right.

    - From A Step Farther Out by Jerry Pournelle (1979)

  • ||

    Found here. I don't have access to the book itself to confirm.

  • ||

    Yep, that's all I've been able to find, too. Must be it.

  • ||

    The physics works like this:

    The minimum energy that it takes to get from the surface of the earth to infinitely far away is the escape energy. Suppose you have some fraction k of that energy.

    The farthest out you can go, before you fall back, is 1/(1-k)times the radius of the earth.

    The farthest you can go, and be in a circular orbit when you are done, is 1/(2(1-k))times the radius of the earth.

    If k = 1/2, you can skim the surface of the earth in the lowest possible orbit. Which is half as much energy as you need to get an infinite distance from the earth.

    So when they said getting to low earth orbit is "halfway to anywhere" they mean in terms of the escape energy. Of course, if you actually wanted to LAND on an Earth-sized planet you'd need a lot more energy than that.

    Anyway it is a Physics 101 kind of calculation--anyone who is excited about space should work it out for themselves. That and Hohmann transfers.

  • SIV||

    Hit & Run: The Early Years

    Tonio|9.26.05 @ 11:28AM|#

    Dedskin and Ruthless: I apologize for the unwarranted and childish personal attack in my 9/25 post. I also apologize to everyone for lowering the level of discourse on H&R. Sorry.
  • ||

    You goldwatered the link.

  • SIV||

    http://reason.com/blog/2005/09.....ent_313874

    I always wanted to know who originally "lowered the discourse" around here. All Tonio's fault.

  • ||

    It was still hanging on to the bottom rung for a while. It was the ham tears thread that finally stomped its fingers until it fell screaming into the pit.

  • ||

    I'm all pro-space elevator in that thread. When the heck did I think that was a near-term solution to our spaces woes?

    September 2005, I guess.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Near term means 20 years, right?
    Good to know we are only 14 years from a working space elevator now...thanks to your early support.

  • PIRS||

    "Most presidents have also been able to string seven words together to form a complete sentence"

    Which is why a TelePrompter was elected in 2008.

  • ||

    I voted for the stand mixer.

  • Kristen||

    Yabut...what color? I voted cobalt blue.

  • Mensan||

    Racist!

  • PIRS||

    "But it’s doubtful the Party of Lincoln will make the mistake they did in 2008, and nominate another short, pasty-faced old geezer."

    The mistake was not that McCain was a short, pasty-faced geezer. The mistake was that he was not ideologically very distinct from the Democratic nominee. This depressed the turnout for the GOP base. You had socialist progressives as the nominees of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

  • JD the Elder||

    The mistake was not that McCain was a short, pasty-faced geezer.

    Well, that wasn't the only mistake, let's put it that way. But look at the history of recent Presidential elections: one party runs a dynamic young candidate, and the other runs a boring old party warhorse. MEGA-HUGE SPOILER ALERT: the boring old warhorse always loses.

    1992: George H. W. Bush (yawn) vs. Bill Clinton (young 'n' dynamic)
    1996: Bill Clinton vs. Bob Dole (are you f'ing kidding me? the guy defines "old and crusty party warhorse".)
    2000: George W. Bush (young 'n' dynamic) vs. Al Gore (snooze-a-rama)
    2004: George W. Bush vs. John Kerry (the Democrats' turn at "are you f'ing kidding, etc.")
    2008: Barack Obama (you know the drill) vs. John McCain (AKA the conjoined spirits of Bob Dole and John Kerry)

    If history is any guide, in 2012 the Republicans will dig up a mummified corpse to run against Obama, but in 2016 the Democrats will mysteriously choose the oldest, Whitest guy in the party to lose the race for them.

  • J_L_B||

    If this trend continues, I think by far the Republican frontrunner to fill that young 'n' dynamic role for 2016 is Marco Rubio.

  • ||

    Second Rubio, and add Chafetz of Utah. If Bachman would but take two steps back from the church, she'd be my other pisk, but a Christian theocracy is as bad as the ruling Islamic one we've got now.

  • Old Mexican||

    we have the most physically attractive line-up of potential presidents any political party has ever produced. Not just Perry and Palin, but Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman, too.


    And all running against King Obama The Handsome. It's like a meat market! Scandalous!

  • fish||

    And all running against King Obama The Handsome. It's like a meat market! Scandalous!

    I prefer his title prior to the ascendancy:

    "Barack of the Delicate and Girl like Wrists".

  • ||

    "Barack of the Delicate and Girl like Wrists".

    I'm imagining what that coat of arms (heh) looks like.

  • fish||

    I'm imagining what that coat of arms (heh) looks like

    Delicate.

  • KDN||

    "Barack of the Delicate and Girl like Wrists"

    Oh, so that's why he can't throw a baseball 55ft.

  • Barack O.||

    Bitches love my Ferengi ears.

  • ||

    My frazzled brain somehow remembers much gushing in 2008 over Obama's looks (and creased pants).

  • fish||

    Yeah....Brooks still can't wear those slacks in public any more. The stain appears to be permanent.

  • Old Mexican||

    former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin, the not-Tina Fey, briefly employed as Alaska’s chief executive.


    Yeah, she's very NOT Tina Fey. At the very least, Sarah has LIPS. Full lips.

    Yum!

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    DSLs?

  • Old Mexican||

    You betcha!!!

  • Bodymore, Murdaland||

    Titties!

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    I will always remember a conversation I had with an ex-girlfriend of one of my compadres in which she based her decision to vote for Bush 2 over Gore the Bore based on their looks. Not that one would have been better than the other (we might have traded the Iraq debacle for a different kind of debacle)but that is when I knew that women's suffrage was a colossal failure...of course heterosexual men would do the same damn thing if women dominated politics. I guess the only solution then is to hide the faces/names(So...Sarah Palin would become Candidate P or something) of the candidates until they are elected. Or vote on principal. Or not vote and jerk it to redtube. That's probably a more productive use of everyone's time than voting.

  • rather||

    ...that is when I knew that women's suffrage was a colossal failure

    Funny, your one experience with the GF's stupidity led you to such an enormous conclusion, and your one idiotic statement has made me conclude you alone are a jackass

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Yes, because that was not intended as a joke but a serious statement where I also didn't assume that men WOULD DO THE SAME DAMN THING if most of our potential candidates were women.

    My conclusion is not that women's suffrage is a colossal failure, but VOTING is a colossal failure because Americans in general are dumb fucking shits who don't know/don't care about issues or think critically (THANK YOU PUBLIC SCHOOL).

    Oh- and get a fucking sense of humor.

  • Maher, Moore, & the Left||

    Americans in general are dumb fucking shits who don't know/don't care about issues or think critically

    This is what we've been saying for a long time, and then they keep voting against us; we just don't understand it.

  • Maher, Moore, & the Left||

    While we also insist that they go to the terrible public schools(we love them because they are "free") that are making them dumb fucking shits.

  • Appalachian Australian||

    He said (in jest) it was a failure because the political field is dominated by men, and even acknowledged men would be as shallow if they were voting for women, if not more so.

  • Appalachian Australian||

    Aw, shucks, we both fell for blather's troll.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Yeah, well, it allowed me to type out some swear words, thus lowering my dangerously high blood pressure, so I'd call it wash.

  • T||

    If women politicians dominated, a boob job would be a necessity for elected office. As it is, pretty women are derided as being not serious, but handsome men get a pass. Double standard FTW!

    Also: "It's always tempting to impute unlikely virtues to the cute." Which, IIRC, was PJ O'Rourke's explanation for JFK.

  • Steve Smith||

    ME WOULD DO PALIN. THEN ME WOULD RAPE STEAK, THEN ME WOULD EAT STEAK AND BEER AND BURP.

  • ||

    And you'd still be boring.

  • ||

    This level of irony would kill most normal humans.

  • ||

    The anonypussy troll isn't a normal human. For instance, it has superhuman levels of time to waste on a site it supposedly thinks is irrelevant, yet still lives on all day. It's also superhumanly stupid, superhumanly tedious, and most of all, it's imperviousness to irony is greater than Superman's.

  • Anomalous||

    Not when the GOP has to run against the Jack-and-Jackie fashionistas now occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Did he equate Michelle Obama with Jackie Kennedy? Michelle comes out second best in comparison to George Kennedy.

  • KDN||

    I love how she looks like her brother in a wig.

  • ­||

    Holy shit.

  • take it back, biatch||

  • ||

    A Chicago Bears linebacker in drag?

  • jordan shoes||

    post is good

  • ||

    I'm more of a Kellogg's guy.

  • the real OO||

    the alt txt for palin's pic should be "what me worry?"

  • ||

    Sarah and Todd Palin are by far the hottest couple in politics! Therefore, my vote goes to SP. And, oh yeah, she happens to have executive experience, strong leadership skills, and common sense. Something the current president sorely lacks.

  • the real OO||

    ^quick, sombody sell something to the fool^

  • the real OO||

    ^quick, sombody sell something to the fool^

  • the real OO||

    damn squirrels

  • squishua||

    Holy shit. Someone actually paid Terry for writing this crap?

  • libertarianSkeptic||

    I'm sure the writer of the piece, which was humorous, appreciated that insightful comment, "squishua."

  • mark||

    I'm still expecting Charlie Sheen to throw his hat in the ring. He's not bi-partisan, he's bi-winning.

  • Mainer||

    Duh

  • BRM||

    The field is a bunch of snake-bite victims. We need to say Goodnight Gracie to all of them, and elect Thaddeus McCotter.

    Smart, conservative, small government, pro-working man, and would rip Barry a new one in the debates.

  • Zuo||

    Thad is an anti-capitalist, anti-freetrade, union-bought tool. He's also against the chronic, like any good little midwestern statist. And he has male pattern baldness, and doesn't wear it well.

  • CE||

    The rest of the field, unfortunately, look more like those science and math club members who couldn’t find a date to the prom.

    Hey, I was in the science and math (and chess) clubs, and my prom date was pretty hot.

    And I'm guessing that Ron Paul didn't seem like a nerd back in the day -- he was student body president, 200m state track champion, and voted most likely to succeed.

  • ||

    I wasn't in the science, math, or chess clubs and my prom date was a slut.

  • Almanian||

    You went out with her, too? Small world!

  • Mainer||

    My prom date was voted the queen of Lincoln Hi, because every guy in school took a shot at her in the balcony.

  • Mensan||

    ... beginning with the father of our country, 6-foot-tall George Washington ...

    Washington was 6'2".

  • Kolohe||

    Six foot eight and weighed a motherfuckin ton.

  • ||

    with eyes of steel and retractable arms.

  • Devil's Advocate||

    With fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Washington was Finn McCool?

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    I've got my hands full.

  • Donkadonk||

    So that's why the Founding Fathers put in the rule that you had to be 35 to be prez. They knew that otherwise I'd vote for Selena Gomez.

  • scarpe Nike Store||

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  • tory burch||

    Too cute to fail?
    I love cute girl .I think cute girl mey have more chance to promotion in the company.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    A Google search confirms that there is, indeed, a Presidential "hot or not" poll:

    http://www.momlogic.com/2010/02/presidents_day.php

  • celebs4truth.com||

    Rick Perry Belongs to the New World Order!

  • air max||

    is good

  • قبلة الوداع||

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  • unlock iphone 3gs 5.0||

    "...well, I'm a straight dood..."
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