Sunday, October 26, 2008


Just a Little Something To Get Off Our Chest

Representative Henry Waxman arguably the ugliest Member of Congress.

(Oct.24, Washington, DC) Since the first televised presidential debate in 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, political commentators and pundits alike refer to that event as the advent of the candidate’s physical appearance in electoral politics. In that grainy, unsteady black and white cathode ray tube delivered telecast, the young, vibrant appearing JFK was a marked contrast to the sweating, five o’clock shadowed, somewhat sinister looking RMN. After the debate some noted how clever the Kennedy camp had been in choosing the future President’s wardrobe. JFK wore a suit that flattered him against the dark backdrop while Nixon wore a suit that gave the impression that he was part of the background. From that time forward, the physical attributes, the appearance of those seeking elected office has become more and more a factor. Much of this development is simply a reflection of our appearance oriented society; our culture of celebrity, beauty and superficiality. Additionally, it is in our nature to make rapid judgments about people based purely on first impression and appearance. We all make many such assessments daily often without even realizing it. We get a “feeling”, a “sense” of a person simply by what we see.

Despite the gravity of the challenges our next President will inherit, this campaign has devolved to such a low level, that some of the candidate’s physicality has entered into the equation. Again, part of this is human nature; the fact that it has taken on the significance it has is disturbing. John McCain and Barak Obama are stark contrasts in appearance as are Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. Unfortunately much of the debate involving Governor Palin’s place on the GOP ticket has lately been solely about trivialities such as make-up, hair style and wardrobe. Perhaps because she is a women the media and public has found license to critique her abilities, or lack thereof, on her appearance.

The physical appeal of a candidate is important to many people. Taller politicians win more often than shorter candidates. All candidates make a concerted effort to present themselves as being fit, lively, physically active and healthy. Ronald Reagan would not even wear his eyeglasses in public for fear he would look “old”. Candidates usually air TV ads showing them engaged in a variety of physical activities such as biking, jogging or horseback riding. This is intended to portray a specific image and impart a distinct message on the voting public. There is no “hard” evidence that it is effective however, there are many indications that it is often persuasive.

Stepping away from the high stakes realm of Presidential politics, it is hard to deny that on the Congressional level, constituents apparently put little or no emphasis on the physical appearance of their Representatives and Senators. A cursory glance at the photos of actively serving members of Congress clearly illustrates this point. Some of the ugliest people in America somehow manage to get elected and remain in office. It is not just the ugliness factor itself; it is the behavior of ugly people once given some measure of power or authority. Ugly people seem to use the power of their elected office to compensate for being physically unattractive people who would be nothing more than ugly anonymous people working in some low profile profession. They would be mean, bitter, resentful people in that realm as well but their meanness, bitterness and restfulness would have limited impact on others.

Given the fact that our society is so appearance oriented if not obsessed, ugly people have a difficult time. Many scientific studies provide ample evidence that less attractive people are not as well accepted by their peers beginning at an early age. Often they are outcasts, ostracized, excluded and sometimes bullied well beyond adolescence. As they reach adulthood, many have had such painful experiences that they enter their professional lives with unusually high levels of anger often manifest in passive / aggressive ways. A leading expert on the socialization hurdles, psychological impact, self image / self esteem dysfunctions that plague ugly people Dr. Lance A. Boyle, MD, PhD, Director Sociologic Psychology at UCLA says, “ People who have been considered unattractive all their lives tend to emerge from their formative years with a host of neurosis sometimes psychosis as well as behavioral issues that leave them with poor socialization skills, an inability to have healthy interpersonal interactions and attitude problems. Ugly looking people are more inclined to be ugly-acting people than are those less ugly or attractive. Even plain looking people fair far better in life than do the profoundly ugly. It is no small coincidence that some of the ugliest Americans seek elected office or other positions of power over others. They often use that power in a vindictive, mean-spirited fashion”.

The results of a rigorously conducted, ground and wind breaking study by the University of Virginia School of Political Science, a research team headed by Dr. Lorraine V. Hixson, who has studied the physical appearance and behavior of elected officials since 1970, was able to prove the strong correlation between the ugliness of a politician and their legislative agenda. “Our research leads to the conclusion that the homeliest members of Congress tended to be the most difficult, recalcitrant, narrow minded, petty and spiteful. When the really ugliest achieved a position of prominence such as Chairmanship of a Committee or sub-Committee, they went after good looking people with a vengeance. They were more likely to subpoena better looking people, investigate matters in which physicality was involved and basically had voting records that showed them to be against many bills that would serve the public good. Utilizing novel techniques in our research such as the Basic Appearance Reactionary Factor (BARF) and the Median Ugliness Threshold Test (MUTT) we were able to link the ugliness of the Congress person with their voting record. Not surprisingly we found more ugly Republicans than Democrats however; the difference was not clinically or statistically significant. In the Senate we found Mitch McConnell (R) score the highest in both BARF and MUTT. Ted Stevens (R), Arlen Spector (R), Elizabeth Dole (R), and Barbara Boxer (D) had impressive MUTT and BARF. We found the House of Representatives to have an astoundingly ugly membership. Henry Waxman (D) was by far the ugliest, meanest legislator every measured. He blew the roof off MUTT and BARF. Additionally, we found his behavior as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee to be deplorable. He has used his power to pursue and investigate a wide range of people that he is much uglier than particularly those who have succeeded in fields of endeavor ugly Waxman could never compete. He investigated steroid use in Major League Baseball, Janet Jackson’s Nipple Slip during the Super Bowl, and tried to end health insurance coverage for plastic and reconstructive surgery. He is clearly an extremely disturbed man and his ugliness his profound. We showed young children his photograph and the overwhelming majority of them wept, vomited, passed out, and experienced rectal and urinary incontinence. Some of their parents reported profound, long term psychological impairment. One of the exposed children committed suicide after beating two of his ugliest classmates with a shovel.”

Copyright TBC 2008 © All Rights Reserved

No comments: