January 29, 2004

The John Kerry and Botox issue.

Wonkette quips:
Our politicians owe it to us to be hot. We're the ones who have look at them all the time. So, from us to you, John Kerry: Thank you. You once risked your life for your fellow Americans, and now you've risked your nerve endings. There is no greater price -- and no greater reward.
I'd say, if people are talking about your face too much, they're distracted from talking about something else about you. If there's something you can do to remove the distraction, go ahead and do it! You will be helping us turn our thoughts to substantive things.

This is especially important for the candidates because they are coming at us in our TV rooms, where we are relaxed and talking to close friends and family. Everyone in that setting feels free to just call out "Look at his face" or "He looks like [whatever]." That is basic, casual, I'm-just-watching-TV humor. Jon Stewart feels free to use that kind of humor on "The Daily Show" all the time, because he's decided to become our TV-watching pal, showing us clips and helping us laugh, pretty much the way we could do on our own, if we were just a tad more motivated and had someone isolating the most ridiculous TV-clips for us.

Obviously, there's also the fear of getting caught and then being called vain or metrosexual or effeminate. People were talking about the cragginess of Kerry's face way too much, and now maybe they'll switch not to substantive matters but to talking about the Botox issue instead. But the wiser course is to do what you can to make yourself telegenic. It's the Nixon lesson--described here by Richard Rodriguez:
Nearly forty years ago, the debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon became -- as the television lens saw it -- a debate between earnestness and sophistication, between pale skin and a tan. Kennedy wore the tan. He looked easy, cosmopolitan.

Poor Richard Nixon, in a manly burst, refused makeup before the debate; he looked sickly. Then, to make matters worse, he started to sweat. You're not supposed to sweat on television. It means that you're guilty. It means that you are a liar. It means that we can't trust you to become President.
All the political candidates wear makeup on TV now. Presumably, before long, they will all use Botox too. The problem is not using such things, it is using them badly. A political candidate that Botoxed his face into an inhuman mask would run into problems similar to those Al Gore had when he wore too much makeup in one of the debates four years ago.

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