August 21, 2012

When's the last time the worse looking of the 2 major party candidates won the Presidency?

A question I raise in the comments to this morning's body fat post.

Here's a list of all the candidates through American history. I'd say the answer to my question is 1976. But Jimmy Carter had a big smile that people responded to, and Ford had reached the presidency via Richard Nixon, who was quite unattractive, and people saw Nixon through Ford. That is, I could wriggle out of conceding that the "last time" was as recently as 1976. But what's the point? We get stopped at the next notch, 1972. Nixon was distinctly less pretty than George McGovern. Nixon was also less pretty than Hubert Humphrey in 1968, not that Humphrey was at all cute. 1964 was also a clear case of the uglier guy winning, LBJ being perhaps the ugliest President ever, and Barry Goldwater looking quite good. One more step back and we get to 1960, the strongest case I remember seeing beauty boosting a candidate across the line. And everyone talked about it (and still talks about it).

It's interesting that after that 1960 beauty contest, we got our spate of the uglier candidate winning. Why? The ugliest man ascended to the Presidency after the assassination of the handsome idol, and it was not odd that he was elected shortly thereafter. It took almost 20 years for us to revert to choosing the handsomer man, but ever since — more than 3 decades — we've chosen beauty.

This year, the GOP has made a strong choice in the beauty contest. It's not clear who's handsomer. Of course, it's clear if we average in the VP component, but the VP beauty boost is an iffy proposition. It didn't work — at least not enough — for John McCain or John Kerry. But I'm thinking if only Gerald Ford had picked someone prettier than Bob Dole....

85 comments:

Danno said...

Nerds rule!

Empty suits not so much.

shiloh said...

Indeed, not only is Althouse all about superficiality, she's obsessed w/it ... go figure!

mccullough said...

Romney is taller than Obama. So he has the edge in the looks contest.

Smilin' Jack said...

This year, the GOP has made a strong choice in the beauty contest. It's not clear who's handsomer.

You cannot be serious.

virgil xenophon said...

Well, I guess by Ann's calculations that means the Mittster wins hands-down over Jug-Ears, then..

MayBee said...

Dole is/was at least as attractive as Clinton.

Clinton was charming, not physically attractive.
Gore and Bush are pretty equal in the looks department. Gore perhaps more handsome, W more fit.

Bob Ellison said...

I'm not a good judge of masculine beauty, but I think Al Gore in 2000 would probably get a higher score than George W. Bush in 2000. John Kerry in 2004 might also best Bush there.

traditionalguy said...

The newcomers to public celebrity are rated on appearance. That's all the voters have got.

The long time players among facial celebrity are not so limited. The old timers can be rated on inner beauty, also called character.

Nixon and Truman had character beauty, as did Abraham Lincoln the second time around.

George Clooney for President!

virgil xenophon said...

Not to mention the hair factor--something ALWAYS beloved of the JFK/Kerry-worshiping left. Someone should do a lexius-nexius serch for favorable MSM stories about their hair. Several entire forest's worth of trees could be sacrificed just printing them out..

Danno said...

Kind of speaks to the topic of an article over at RCP titled, "Cool Is All That Remains" that talks about how little Obama has to talk about this year. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/08/21/cool_is_all_that_remains_115158.html

Nonapod said...

Every president since George H.W. has been a Harvard graduate, and has been between 5'11 and 6'2. Presidents are grown in cloning vats in an underground government lab 20 miles north of Fresno, CA.

Michael K said...

Rumsfeld was not only better looking than Dole but a far better man as a manager and potential president. He was the Romney of his time but with more government experiece and a nearly as successful business career. We lost out by not having Rumsfeld as president.

Pogo said...

Unfair. The bland and ugly, like C students, need representation, too.

yashu said...

Haha, yes, Rumsfeld is a hunk.

Remember the Althouse post linking to politicians' high school photos? Rummy was totally cuh-ute. See also the college pic on Wikipedia.

From Wikipedia I also learn that

Economist Milton Friedman later noted that he, Friedman, regarded Reagan's pick of Bush as "the worst decision not only of his campaign but of his presidency," and that Rumsfeld was instead his preference. "Had he been chosen," Friedman said, "I believe he would have succeeded Reagan as president and the sorry Bush-Clinton period would never have occurred."

Interesting.

virgil xenophon said...

PS to my hair comment: And notice the distinct LACK of stories in the MSM extolling the wonderfulness of Romney's head of hair? Crickets chirping... but if Romney had a D behind his name we'd never hear the end of the hosannas to his hair..

(And you think I'm obsessing? The left never misses a trick. I remember a comparison of Bush and Kerry in the style section of the WaPo in which when it came to hair the characterization of Bush was: "Approaching a comb-over." No, no attempt at sly disparagement-by-comparison there..)

Bob Ellison said...

Nonapod, Clinton never attended Harvard. George W. Bush went to Harvard Business School, but that's like saying "I went to Disneyland". Obama went to Harvard Law School, but with his apparent resume, that's like saying "I went to Disneyland".

Ann Althouse said...

"Indeed, not only is Althouse all about superficiality, she's obsessed w/it ... go figure!"

I'm obsessed with it? Yes, I'm fascinated by the profound topic of the human being's fascination with surface appearances.

How about your engaging with my point, that the more beautiful candidate has won since 1976? It's superficial of you to say you don't want to think about that because it troubles/scares/saddens you.

Face reality. Face the face.

How's your face, shiloh? That might be the sore spot.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm not a good judge of masculine beauty, but I think Al Gore in 2000 would probably get a higher score than George W. Bush in 2000."

Some folks think Gore actually did win.

In any case, remember how much ground Gore lost by showing up at a debate with his makeup overdone -- all orange and rouge?

Bush had masculine beauty, and Gore went whore.

LoafingOaf said...

I don't doubt that looks are a factor, but I thought the swing voters go for the incumbent when they feel they are better off than 4 years earlier and vote for change when they feel worse off. It mostly comes down to the question Reagan asked of voters.

Also, does Althouse feel this looks theory applies equally to male and female voters?

amielalune said...

No offense intended, Bob Ellison, but you are absolutely correct. You are not a good judge of masculine beauty!! LOL.

Shanna said...

Bush had masculine beauty, and Gore went whore.

Not everyone is down with flowing male locks, ala edwards/kerry etc...

None of these people are really all that attractive, except maybe Ryan. Politics is hollywood for ugly people after all.

Ann Althouse said...

The photo of Rumsfeld shows him in the year in which he could have become the VP pick, 1976. It's a great photo too, by Richard Avedon. More here: http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/190044663?rpp=20&pg=1&rndkey=20120821&ft=*&deptids=19%7c44&who=Richard+Avedon%7cDonald+Rumsfeld&pos=1

According to the linked article, Rumsfeld pushed Ford to dump then-VP Nelson Rockefeller and Rumsfeld had reason to think Ford might have picked him.

garage mahal said...

Bush had masculine beauty, and Gore went whore.

Bush masculine? Can a male college cheerleader turned military AWOL be masculine? Asking for a friend.

Ann Althouse said...

"Not everyone is down with flowing male locks, ala edwards/kerry etc..."

Flowing? Did a single hair ever move? Were there even individual hairs or were they one unified helmet?

Women who love long hair on men aren't usually into that politician hair, which is hat-like and glued together. Might as well be a wig. And it is, often, isn't it?

Like Gingrich... isn't that a wig?

Ann Althouse said...

Here's those high school photos that include Rumsfeld.

My favorite is Scott "The Desperado" Walker.

Colonel Angus said...

Indeed, not only is Althouse all about superficiality..

Which perfectly describes Obama's female vote in 2008 and likely this year.

MayBee said...

Calling Reagan more attractive than Mondale is also pretty iffy. So that's two I'd say Althouse called just to support her theory about attractive candidates.

Now, I'd agree candidates have to meet some base level of attractiveness to succeed. But after that level has been achieved, there isn't political benefit to being even more beautiful.

(Bob Ellison- John Kerry is unattractive)

LoafingOaf said...

"Politics is hollywood for ugly people after all."

There's a lot of ugly people in politics but most of them have no hope to reach the White House.

I thought John Edwards' looks ended up being used against him pretty well, with the whole Breck Girl thing.

Ann Althouse said...

"Can a male college cheerleader... be masculine?"

Some male cheerleaders: Samuel L. Jackson, Ronald Reagan, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Kirk & Michael Douglas, Jimmy Stewart, both Presidents Bush, Prescott Bush, Steve Martin, my father...

Ann Althouse said...

Reagan played football and did cheerleading for basketball.

Maybe you just don't understand how things worked in the past.

You've got a fuzzy-headed idea about cheerleaders from looking at the female type. Fine. I have no problem with that. But don't flaunt your ignorance. It makes you look dumb.

LoafingOaf said...

"Calling Reagan more attractive than Mondale is also pretty iffy."

Reagan had tons more charisma than Mondale.

creeley23 said...

I dunno. Quite a lot of the post-Nixon beauty match-ups look like draws between reasonably handsome guys to me.

I don't claim to be a great judge of male beauty though. I have noticed as I've gotten older and less driven by female beauty that I can see what women see in men somewhat better.

Ann Althouse said...

"Calling Reagan more attractive than Mondale is also pretty iffy."

Compare them in this clip.

Again, I want to stress "masculine" in "masculine beauty." Mondale seemed softer, less like he could find his way around outdoors.

Bob Ellison said...

Maybee, ok, so maybe John Kerry is a fright for poor eyes. But can we all agree that Halle Berry would win in a landslide?

Ann Althouse said...

"Reagan had tons more charisma than Mondale."

I've long thought the warmer man wins.

Another way of thinking about it is: Which man would women rather go to bed with?

MayBee said...

Reagan had tons more charisma than Mondale.

Oh, absolutely. And Clinton had more charisma than Dole.
But I thought we were talking about physical beauty, here.

MayBee said...

The warmer man wins theory falls apart with the cold fish Obama.

aronamos said...

Mondale had that long-toothed, beak-nosed, faux Kennedy look about him. And his wife looked like someone just goosed her.

EMD said...

You've got a fuzzy-headed idea about cheerleaders from looking at the female type.

Saving 77 people as a lifeguard helps too.

Ken said...

Ann,

Some folks think Gore actually did win.

And they would be wrong, as time and again, the numbers in Florida still work out in Bush's favor.

Sore loser much?

Ken said...

garage,

military AWOL

You mean the accusation that Dan Rather couldn't defend due to forgery of documents and subsequently was fire for? That AWOL accusation?

Leave it to the deranged left to act as if a lie were truth.

Colonel Angus said...

You've got a fuzzy-headed idea about cheerleaders from looking at the female type. Fine. I have no problem with that. But don't flaunt your ignorance. It makes you look dumb.

Indeed. Holding a 19 year old hottie in a mini skirt over your head is so very gay

Balfegor said...

It's interesting that after that 1960 beauty contest, we got our spate of the uglier candidate winning. Why? The ugliest man ascended to the Presidency after the assassination of the handsome idol, and it was not odd that he was elected shortly thereafter. It took almost 20 years for us to revert to choosing the handsomer man, but ever since — more than 3 decades — we've chosen beauty.

I guess you lived through it (and are, uh, female), but I think it's mostly ties during that period, with a few where the loser was maybe a little more handsome than the winner.

1964: Johnson v. Goldwater -- draw.

1968: Humphrey and Wallace each roughly as ugly/silly-looking as Nixon.

1972: McGovern handsomer than Nixon, yes.

1976: Both kind of ugly.

I think the last election where the loser was clearly handsomer than the winner was 1908. Admittedly, that's just with the Democrats running Mr. Creationism, but he was up against this titanic Republican.

garage mahal said...

But don't flaunt your ignorance. It makes you look dumb.

You seem to think that only your opinion counts as to who is good looking or masculine. Your mileage may vary. Bush (in my opinion) just reeked of false bravado. The stupid big belt buckle, the hands at his sides, the brush clearing. Just phonier than a 3 dollar bill. And not masculine.

bgates said...

How's your face, shiloh? That might be the sore spot.

Someone suggested yesterday that you sounded like a bratty ninth grader. I want you to think hard about sounding mature and see if you can get back up to that level by the end of the week.

Scott said...

You've got a fuzzy-headed idea about cheerleaders from looking at the female type. Fine. I have no problem with that. But don't flaunt your ignorance. It makes you look dumb
ER.

FIFY

Jay said...

garage mahal said...

Bush masculine? Can a male college cheerleader turned military AWOL be masculine?


Bush never went AWOL anything.

Unlike you, you chubby pansy, he actually put on the uniform.

Chickenhawk.

virgil xenophon said...

Garage you should personally go ask all the male cheerleaders at the military academies or the cheerleader members of the Cadet Corps at schools like VMI, The Citadel or Texas A&M if they are "masculine" or not--and then report back--IF you get back..

Kirk Parker said...

garage,

"Can a male college cheerleader turned pilot of one of the most dangerous-to-its-crew fighters ever fielded be masculine?"

FIFY. And of course no wonder you don't know the answer...

Jay said...

garage mahal said...


You seem to think that only your opinion counts as to who is good looking or masculine.


Being fat, like you, is in no way "masculine"

Its soft.

Tubby.

Darcy said...

Interesting. I'd never seen photos of Rummy when he was young, but have always found him very attractive. He's still a brainy hottie, IMO.

Colonel Angus said...

You seem to think that only your opinion counts as to who is good looking or masculine.

As a female, Althouse's opinion probably carries more weight than yours on the subject of male beauty.

ricpic said...

George McGovern and Hubert Humphrey were as far from pretty as Diana Nyad was far from Florida when she quit swimming. In other words they were MILES from pretty.

shiloh said...

"troubles/scares/saddens you."

Projection aside, Althouse goes out of her way to be "outraged" by the truth. Her total superficiality is duly noted.

Darcy said...

Bush was way more masculine than Gore. And it wasn't phony. Remember the "Dingell-Norwood!" clip?

Ass kicked.

shiloh said...

Speaking of obsessed ~ 9 of the first 35 posts are Althouse!

Colonel Angus said...

Bush was way more masculine than Gore.

Barney Frank was more masculine than Gore.

virgil xenophon said...

And I get SO sick of reminding people like Garage for the Nth time that as a fighter-pilot G. Bush mastered one oo the most difficult and dangerous ac to fly in the AF inventory in the hist of the jet-age AF. The F-102A had the worst accident record per hrs flown and killed more pilots/hrs flown than ANY other aircraft. A normal training mission in an F-102 was more dangerous than all but the roughest combat missions in Vietnam--and take it from a guy who flew 1& 1/2 tours over there. Also of record is the fact that Bush did indeed volunteer for service in Vietnam in the 102 (it was used for Air Defense at bases like DaNang where I was stationed) but was refused because he didn't have the minimum hours--500--experience
in the aircraft. But all of this has been explained to types like you ad nauseum Garage, but I guess you don't want to be confused by the facts..

Michael K said...

Rumsfeld and Cheney ran Ford's campaign and so were hardly on the lest for Reagan. Nixon wanted Rumsfeld on the CREEP that got into Watergate but Rumsfled was too smart to get caught that way. He went to Europe as NATO ambassador.

When Reagn was elected, Rumsfeld left government for two decades and ran GD Searle company. He did very well and retired with a fortune, which he had definitely not inherited as he was a scholarship student at Princeton.

Bob said...

Don't just observe it. Decry it. Since the primitive days of television, there have been zero fat and bald major party candidates for President.

Seriously, the Presidency is important. Aren't we headed for trouble when the electorate is highly swayed by whether the guy (they've all been guys so far) looks like someone women would want to go to bed with?

ricpic said...

Bush was way more masculine than Gore.

Remember their first presidential debate when Gore kept moving out from behind his podium and moving toward Bush while Bush was talking, in a pathetic attempt to intimidate him? Bush's reaction? A momentary look of annoyance. That sealed it for me.

garage mahal said...

Being fat, like you, is in no way "masculine"

I have a beer gut I admit. I'm 210lbs.

I would be willing to bet money you won't post a pic of yourself though. And that, is not masculine. Prove me wrong tough guy!

FWBuff said...

I'm looking at a framed publicity picture of Ronald Reagan that I keep on my desk. It is from the mid-1940's, and he (or more likely his assistant) autographed and sent it to my mother-in-law when she was about 13. It says "To a swell girl. With Best Wishes, Ronnie Reagan." The picture shows him in a relaxed pose with an open, engaging smile. He doesn't look brooding or mysterious at all. In fact, he doesn't look that different from his political era 30+ years later. I think this physical consistency appealed to lots of voters who remembered him as a handsome young actor. My mother-in-law sent off for lots of celebrity photos when she was a girl, but this is the one she kept until she passed away earlier this year at 81. She also switched from the Democrat to the Republican Parties about the time Reagan hit the national stage. Don't underestimate the power of good looks.

Colonel Angus said...

I would be willing to bet money you won't post a pic of yourself though.

There are some things a guy won't ask another guy to do. Masculine guys anyway.

Just sayin.

Ken said...

Darcy,

Bush was way more masculine than Gore. And it wasn't phony. Remember the "Dingell-Norwood!" clip?

That was a hilarious clip! I think the left thinks that being intimidating or bullying is what passes as being masculine, rather than having the balls to stand your ground against bullies.

William said...

Per the Golden Bough of Frazier, the king is not just the phallic symbol of his tribe but the actual phallus. The king is judged not by his good looks but by his horniness. Impregnating a lot of women demonstrated his fitness for ruling. A fertile king equals a fertile kingdom. The wounded king of Arthurian legends indicated weakness and impotence.. The land ruled by the wounded king was infertile and plague ridden.....Some of this still bleeds over in our apprehension of Presidents. LBJ was not especially good looking, but there can be no denying that he was a total horn dog. JFK made promiscuity look more stylish, but if you want a rutting pig to demonstrate the virility of American men, LBJ was the far better choice than Goldwater. I think the looks of Dole and McCain were irrelevant. They were wounded men and, as such, cast a gloomy shadow over the kingdom.....Both Romney and Obama are generative and good looking. Obama looks a little more delicate and hen pecked, but neither man projects much lasciviousness. So far as choosing a President as a phallic symbol, it's pretty much a wash.

Peter said...

Then again, maybe its time to stop talking about the 1960 presidential (candidate) debates?

edutcher said...

This is why women shouldn't have the vote. They see a guy running for office and, if they think they'd like to go to bed with him, he gets their vote.

traditionalguy said...

How does the whom women want to go to bed with standard apply to Hillary Clinton? Bill has that quality beyond doubt, but the faithful wife has character beauty only.

Maybe there are 3 categories mixed into the final decision: 1) Classic beauty, and 2)inner warmth that connects, and 3) seductive sexual vibes.

Paul Ryan is dangerous! He has three out of three. Ryan is an antidote for Mitt who has none of the three showing, but who is realistic enough to use Ryan.

ricpic said...

...the looks of Dole and McCain were irrelevant. They were both wounded men and, as such, cast a gloomy shadow over the kingdom.

A significant insight.

Of course the great exception was FDR. What made him an exception? He had, as has been oft noted, a first rate temperament which he managed to project powerfully. Also, as long as he was seated - and I believe the press never allowed him to be seen in the terribly painful, agonizing really, process of being helped to the standing position - the wound didn't show, or at least was minimalized for public consumption.

traditionalguy said...

Obama tries his best to seduce using a magic smile and a symbolic image of himself as an Egyptian ankh empowered Pharaoh.

I want Crack to comment on why Mitt beating the Barack cult is either a good thing or is a bad thing.

Politics uses strange cult alliances.
As the scripture tells us, sorcery is a work of the flesh.

edutcher said...

traditionalguy said...

How does the whom women want to go to bed with standard apply to Hillary Clinton? Bill has that quality beyond doubt,

A lot of women have low standards, then.

ricpic said...

Yeah, but can Barry walk like an Egyptian?

Darcy said...

@Ken

Exactly. I think that little part of that debate partly won the election for Bush.

jr565 said...

Garage Mahal wrote:
I have a beer gut I admit. I'm 210lbs.


"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son"
(sorry, not directing it at your per se,but I just felt that that quote was apropos to the situation)>

wyo sis said...

It might be my age or just personal preference, but judging by their high school pictures alone. McCain would have been the one I went after.

Quaestor said...

garage mahal wrote:
...And not masculine.

garage longs for masculine beauty in a deep, soul-searing AndyR kinda way. Maybe if garage had a dollop of style or a soup├žon of wit he'd write us some Uranain verse in praise of masculine beauty that would make Bosie Douglas look like John Wayne in comparison. Maybe all that "gone fishing" talk about muskies and pike is just a tactical distraction to keep his victim at ease while he sidles closer to him on the boat, getting poised to make his move Sandusky-style on yet another unsuspecting boy. Maybe he's just Titus's sock puppet.

Do you object to my accusations, garage? They're nothing but baseless calumnies, lies, and personal insults, you say?... Good, keep the outrage in mind the next time you try to float Dan Rather's pathetic assassination attempt on Bush as anything other than the blatant and sinful lies they were.

Quaestor said...

Robert Dornan was a movie star!

furious_a said...

Bob Dole, bad looking? Really?

furious_a said...

Bush masculine?

Yes.

furious_a said...

Bush was way more masculine than Gore.

And that was *after* Rolling Stone airbrushed in Gore's package.

TomB said...

Well, its no accident that the presidents post-TV do not look like the presidents pre-TV. From what I have heard, the same can be said of oratory pre and post radio - not the words, but the voice. Apparently Lincoln, for example, was not the James Earl Jones of the 19th century, which is how most actors who portray him try to do.

Shana said...

"I'm not a good judge of masculine beauty, but I think Al Gore in 2000 would probably get a higher score than George W. Bush in 2000. John Kerry in 2004 might also best Bush there."

No and no.

Shana said...

"Paul Ryan is dangerous! He has three out of three. Ryan is an antidote for Mitt who has none of the three showing, but who is realistic enough to use Ryan."

Agree about Ryan, but Romney does have classic beauty, in spades. Warmth and seduction, no.

Nora said...

I think the contest is more on charm and charisma than beauty.

Romney is a handsome man, but he lucks in charisma department, although, I noticed that inteviews show that he has charm. Ryan definitely has both aplenty.

I always found Obama unatractive and lacking in charisma. Both of these his percieved qualities were seriously overblown by the media. Considering that earlier they tried to sell Kerry as handsome, it's no surprise.