A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Political “Beauty” of Sarah Palin

The repackaging of Sarah Palin has begun and is slowly evolving before our own eyes. Her memoirs are out and everyone is weighing in about her book, her book tour, her television interviews, and herself. Her fans think she is Presidential material. Her critics shudder at this thought.

In the midst of all this was the publication — in the liberal media — of a photograph of Palin in short shorts as she was jogging. The criticism about the photo came from all directions, including Palin herself, and even members of the liberal media. These two divergent camps disagree on political issues, but they agreed in this case that the photo was sexist in nature.

I haven’t seen the photo, but in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that, as a heterosexual male with an appreciative eye for female beauty, Sarah Palin is a physically beautiful woman. There, I said it! If complimenting someone who I have never met face-to-face is sexist, then so be it!

I make this admission with the following caveats. I realize that physical beauty is not everything; it is just one small part of the whole picture. I also realize that this element of her will be modified, tweaked, and perfected by those around her who seek to elevate her to a higher level of power. We all know where this is going: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

There are the other elements to consider. Her down home demeanor, while endearing to her base constituency, can and has tripped up her ability to articulate her knowledge of national events. Witness Katie Couric’s newspaper question. The fact that she resigned her governorship midway through her term, leaving the people of Alaska in the lurch, led many to predict her political self-destruction. Okay, the woman has some minuses to overcome, but she has plenty of time to smooth out these blemishes.

Unfortunately, appearances, however superficial, are given more credence in society than substance. Chalk up this phenomenon to human nature. Why else do many successful business people dress in their best clothes every day? They emphasize their physical attractiveness much like animals in the wild will either spread their plumage or sing pretty songs. Humans and animals alike know that they must do this to persuade their clients or mates to buy their product or go with them.

Politicians are no different. They are, after all, trying to sell themselves to the American voter. In this regard, it is nothing more than a job interview that seems to go on forever and ever.

We can see a historical example in the Kennedy-Nixon Debates from 1960. People who listened to the debates on the radio believed that Nixon won. However, people who watched the debates on television gave Kennedy the victory, even though they heard the same arguments from both candidates as the radio listeners.

Why the difference? The theory that has been given the most credibility over the course of 50 years is Nixon’s physical appearance during the debate. People couldn’t get over the “five o’clock shadow” on his face. That, and the fact that he kept looking around during the course of the debate - as if he were looking for a way to escape - didn’t help him one bit.

We shouldn’t disregard any physical charisma Sarah Palin displays while she keeps herself politically relevant for the next few years. The politicos will use her charm to their advantage and manipulate us into thinking she is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Her fans will revel in this transformation. The rest of us will try our best to avert our eyes.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember that beauty is in the eyes of the pollsters!)


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