Cultural Imperialist

"Scathing Spats on Shallow Subjects"


Wed Aug 23



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Justice Isn't Blind

Greg Piper

Barack Obama was beloved not because of his smoking-enhanced voice, but because everyone thought he was adorable, like Will Smith as the Fresh Prince.

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When Chief Justice John Roberts was nominated, I gushed that finally we had an attractive Supreme Court jurist. Five years later, Jon Lovitz has been elevated in the form of Solicitor General Elena Kagan. Certainly I love Lenie's apparent devotion to free speech, at least when she's not representing the administration's absurd view of the First Amendment, but I don't know if I can abide yet another Shrek-like figure in the government.

You don't raise civic awareness with intelligent public servants. You do with hotties.

Sure, you may protest that nobody cared what politicians and officials looked like before sex-bomb JFK walloped Dick "Stubble Trouble" Nixon in TV debates.  But for better or ... no, just better, looks are at least as important as smarts in government. If not the most important thing.

Smart people are always behind the scenes. You think your average congressman or agency director has any idea what they're talking about half the time?  No - they're using talking points from their aides and advisers, who hide in the shadows and stroke their bosses' egos like Morlocks milking the Eloi. Watch Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif) for five minutes at a committee hearing and tell me she shows any cognitive recognition of her opening statement. Yet for someone who's probably your grandmother's grandmother, Sonny Bono's widow is still smokin' hot, and I gobble up every robotic sentence she utters.

Or take Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill) - and what's with all these hot Republicans? - who's certainly the first lawmaker to be followed around regularly by TMZ. I'm not a patron of gay blogs (no chuckling, you juveniles) but I'm sure the 29-year-old Grade A top-choice meat is a subject of their adulation for reasons wholly unrelated to his political views.

The point is, no one gives a quorum about public servants unless they're eye candy. Ideological chemistry and silver-tonguing aside, politics is too boring to sustain a person's interest without some sizzle to the steak. Barack Obama was beloved (certainly not anymore!) not because of his smoking-enhanced voice, but because everyone thought he was adorable, like Will Smith as the Fresh Prince. But who ever grew up saying "I want to be a do-gooder Golum like Dennis Kucinich"?

Bind this aphorism on your forehead, too:  It's dangerous to put your trust in Screech as opposed to Zack.  I made just this argument in warning against electing Al Gore in 2000, because in addition to murdering his marriage vows, he's a serious nerd, and nerds with power are more dangerous than Mark Souder with a district staffer. All the taunting and humiliation they've suffered over the years lead to incredibly vindictive policies and, eventually, totalitarian rule. (Stalin? Chavez?  Huge nerds.) Good-looking people tend toward enlightened rule:  Reliant on the advice of smart, ugly people, they never make decisions in a vacuum.

Public service will never have the esteem of the American people the way it did a generation ago. The least we can do is keep out the know-it-all mirror-breakers.

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Politics Is Ugly

Jeremiah Lewis


Ugly people are determined, driven, and have to work more than attractive people (precisely because they are ugly, and thus disadvantaged on a molecular level). Nerds and workaday proles don't have the crutch of innate attractiveness to carry them through life.

Those upon whom the sun has shone are blessed with ignorance, that their success is due primarily to their looks, not their abilities. Like Liz Lemon's one-time Bubble boyfriend on 30 Rock, attractive people are unhampered by lack of talent; their lives are always enabled by those around them who recognize the shiny brilliance of beauty and who seek to bask in reflected glory.

Unattractive people, on the other hand, must scrape and scratch their way, through dint of hard work and sometimes bitter battles, to positions of power, and once there, are always assailed by the danger of losing their place to a less qualified, but more attractive person.

This is the quintessential paradox of our Western species. We pretend to value and reward hard work, perseverance, and home-grown talent, but what we really want is craven loveliness. Tall people are more likely to earn more than their Costanza-like cousins; full-haired folks hold higher positions than bald ones; there are no ugly celebrities, Mickey Rourke notwithstanding.

Ironically, politics may be the only place where beauty falls before the bigger god of money, charisma, and actual governing ability. While there are certainly beautiful bureaucrats (Ah, the exotic Bobby Jindal) and hot matrons (Canadian Belinda Stronach can mountie me any time, and no matter what you think of her, there's a reason they made a porno called Nailin' Palin.), our best politicians have very little sex appeal.

Barack Obama has a certain charm, but he's no looker (Michelle, on the other hand, is both hot and a good mother). I doubt anyone would accuse either of the Bush boys of sexiness. Gordon Brown is a gargoyle.

Even historical figures were physically flawed: George Washington had no real teeth. J. G. Biggar, 19th century Irish nationalist who invented the filibuster, was once referred to as "a Creature" by Benjamin Disraeli. Snap! And let's not forget political consultant James Carville, who looks like a comic book villain.

Government is the province of the intelligent and hardworking; bonus points for being attractive, but as far as ruling the people goes, you're better off looking like an Eleanor (Roosevelt) than an Eva (Peron).

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