When you sit around watching cable news coverage of the presidential campaign all day long like it’s your job (oh wait, it is!) you grow accustomed (immune, even) to a certain level of idiocy. And still. Every now and then some cable segment registers a blip on- or, in this case, blows away - my jaded old inanity-meter.
Without further comment, the segment, in its entirety, as it appeared this afternoon on MSNBC:
MSNBC’s CONTESSA BREWER: If the clothes make the man, does image make the president? Ben Shapiro says yes, that candidates can’t win politics’ biggest prize without image. No matter what their stand on the issues. He wrote the book Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House. Ben, what’s your theory?
BEN SHAPIRO: The bottom line is that image isn’t just everything, it’s the only thing, as Vince Lombardi put it. When we look at candidates, we’re not looking at a bunch of policy positions because candidates will promise us anything. We have to look at them as people and that means looking at them the same way we look at normal people. We look at their hair, their height, their age. We look at whether they’re trustworthy. Aggressive. And we tend to calculate these things in about a tenth of a second. So that means candidates have to be on their game all of the time because they never know when someone is tuning in.
BREWER: Let’s put your theory to work now. Take a look at John Edwards. Here is a good looking man. Why isn’t he doing better in polls if looks matter so much?
SHAPIRO: I think the real reason he isn’t doing better than I thought he’d do is because of the metrosexual image that he’s put out there. The focus on his hair just really hurts him a lot. If you look back at a YouTube video of him combing his hair with a little compact in front of him for two solid minutes while “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story plays in the background? Well I think that one incident probably sunk his candidacy.
BREWER: Let’s look at the Republicans. Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and John McCain. If you’re just looking at these pictures [on-screen headshots], it seems like there should be a clear front-runner, but there’s not.
SHAPIRO: I think Mitt Romney, the big problem someone characterized him as the Ken doll (as opposed to the Barbie.) I think that’s right. He looks too plastic, too perfect. He looks like if you threw a brick in his hair it would bounce off.
BREWER: Because you have this theory that people like cowboy boots better than that whole city-slicker- country-club kind of look.
SHAPIRO: Exactly. Mitt Romney joked once with Jay Leno when he goes to sleep every night he changes from his dark suit into his light suit. That’s not the kind of talk that’s going to win you the presidency.
BREWER: The only woman running in this case, Hillary Clinton, I was watching the debate the other night, looking at her beautiful skin, wondering if she’s had any work done because I know that Botox and chemical peels and laser work and a little nip-tuck can make a world of difference. What would be your recommendation for her? Does that more youthful look work for her or is it better if you’re trying to be commander-in-chief to have wrinkles and sort of this gravitas?
SHAPIRO: I think she’s got to walk a fine line. The wrinkles are probably not the best idea for her. I think she should stop wearing the pant suits frankly. The pant suits look real bad on her. She should wear a skirt. Cut her hair more softly, wear pastels. She should take a page from Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi is able to walk that fine line, she can play with the boys but still has the femininity that attracts women voters.
BREWER: So would you recommend Botox?