Last evening, I got a text from a good friend asking me if I were watching the GOP “presidential” debate in New Hampshire. I wasn’t and had no intentions of doing so. It’s June 2011. Spring never really happened in Utah. I was at a baseball game and not wearing a jacket (until it started raining, that is). I haven’t washed the car yet this year, and our lawn has only been mowed twice. With nearly 18 months to go before the 2012 national elections, I figured the Republicans should stick a fork in it for now and let me have some peace.
I learned everything I needed to know about the debate this morning just by reading the headlines anyway. As might be expected, the main topic wasn’t anything more forward-thinking than patting each other’s behinds while riding down on President Obama. That’s the same thing the Democrats did for a couple of years before the 2008 election, telling us ad nauseam how George W. Bush screwed the United States all the way to the center of the earth. Now, President Obama is getting the same treatment. Sure makes for robust and exciting politics, doesn’t it?
Actually, it doesn’t. It just reaffirms the notion that there’s not much substantive to talk about now (even which, if they do, one might change his position before Election Day, a la Mitt Romney), or that some kind of cataclysmic event over the next 18 months could change the debate considerably. So, the debaters end up not debating very much, instead remaining on the primary topic of looking presidential. You can interchange all of their words or attribute one person’s idea or quote to someone else, and somewhere between 42 and 301 Americans would notice the incongruity. And as sure as the sweat on Richard Nixon’s 1960 debate brow paired against John F. Kennedy’s handsome youth, each of those GOP politicians knows much more about Maybelline than they do the mujahideen.
If Abraham Lincoln were running for president today … well, let’s stop that thread right now: Abraham Lincoln couldn’t win the presidency today. He was not a handsome man, except perhaps to his suffering wife. Ugly can’t win in 2012. We haven’t had an ugly president since Lyndon Johnson, who got a post-JFK-assassination hall pass. So, remember that money you bet on Ron Paul to win the election? Get on a Wendover Fun Bus, go to the sports-book window and make another laydown in favor of someone not so ugly as Ron Paul. He’s not marketable, folks—or fanatics, or whatever. Ron Paul loses because Ron Paul reminds voters of parsnips.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman remind voters of buttermilk and daisies. It often appears that looks and money are more important to Mormons than the gospel, and Romney and Huntsman have both looks and money in spades. I know, I know, such thinking doesn’t account for anomalies like Bob Bennett or Orrin Hatch. But, they’re only senators. However, consider this: When he first ran for the Senate, Bennett wasn’t handsome, but he was rich, and once unburdened from being a Republican toady, he became more relaxed of the face and thus more handsome. Meanwhile, Orrin Hatch possessed a measure of youthful handsomeness when he first ran for office, but he didn’t have two dimes in his pocket. Now, he’s rich and looks unhappily unhandsome. Either way, in their lifetimes, they experienced both, and if they had both at the same time, they might have even been influential enough to pass a decent piece or two of legislation.
Because, not just in Mormondom, but in America coast-to-coast, pretty wins. Obama didn’t get there by just advocating for change and being the anti-Bush. He came from nowhere with a mass appeal that focused on his mental agility and his good looks. He was as marketable in 2008 as an iPhone 3G. You know this isn’t just a Democratic ploy—look at what John McCain did. He shat all over his image as an aggressive, balanced, bipartisan moderate Republican when he delivered the obscure Sarah Palin to the American public. He didn’t choose Palin for her intellect, stature, expertise, foreign-affairs knowledge or her encyclopedic understanding of health care. He chose her for her looks and sex appeal to fill a voter niche gap in the “market” (not electorate) that Obama was running away with. T&A sells power drinks and music. It sells political office, too.
Which is why I’m moving to Greece and casting my absentee ballot for Michele Bachmann. To be honest, I’d never paid much attention to her other than using her as a ulcer medication reminder since every time she misspoke or made some outrageous and offensive comment about laborers, immigrants, the infirm, those without health care, gays or any other disenfranchised group of Americans, I’d become ill. She purely defines the “I got mine, tough shit if you don’t have yours” mentality of the Republican-American upper crust. As such, I despised her from the git-go. Photos of her always made her look so wicked, mean, vengeful, deceptive, and otherwise unattractive. As much as she upset my stomach, I figured she was too ugly to go much farther politically than Minnesota and that she would go away like the hiccups—they just go away.
However, this morning I saw her on TV and she looked hotter than a Hatch Chili pepper. I’d be lying if I didn’t think, “Shazaam!” Dazzling, really. In that nanosecond, as she transformed into a RILTPUTH, I got it. I finally and fully understood the Michele Bachmann phenomenon. She’s pretty. She’s marketable. She’s sassy. She can win.
Goodbye, America. Been nice knowin’ ya.