America was agog today that John McCain chose a young politician from far-flung Alaska as his VP running mate. Few knew who she was or what she had done, but Gov. Sarah Palin looked great, an antidote to Obama’s charisma. You could just feel Hillary Clinton thinking, I spent $212 million on my %&@(!! campaign and she gets a phone call?
The fuss was over appearance — which points out that if you want response, looks matter.
This is not meant to disparage Gov. Palin’s abilities or credentials. Palin fought her way to the top of a tough state; she’s spoken intelligently about the need for new energy exploration, criticized Exxon, helped clean up oil spills and promised to reform political corruption in Alaska. But the reaction yesterday was instant. People didn’t read her bio before they responded; they simply saw an attractive woman as potential VP. Wow.
Numerous studies show that tall men and pretty women are most likely to succeed, to be top executives or heads of state, and to convince people to follow them. FaceResearch.org allows you to participate in online studies that prove symmetry and health are time and again the images people hunger for. Humans have an innate need to survive; for 30,000 generations we followed leaders who shined with health and vigor and yes, beauty that hinted at reproduction. Part of Reagan’s and Clinton’s appeal was their handsome vigor; one reason Dukakis failed was he looked lopsided in a tank.
McCain made a wise choice finding a conservative who will reach into the middle, an energy expert who will attract Hillary’s followers and hurt Obama. But let’s be honest; those looks didn’t hurt.