The objectivity of beauty

Conservatives are indignant today over Kathleen Parker’s suggestion that John McCain chose Sarah Palin as running mate primarily for her looks.

Does any conservative really wish to deny that good looks are an asset in politics? After all, which party put a bona fide Hollywood movie star in the White House?

Back during the GOP primary season, I argued that the tall, handsome millionaire Mitt Romney would be a better nominee than the old, short, bald guy. Independent voters are superficial and, other things being equal, will generally prefer the guy who “looks presidential” on TV — a test that John McCain spectacularly fails.

Palin’s beauty is not a political deficit, so why does Kathleen Parker assert that because Palin is beautiful, she is to be presumed unqualified? It’s envy, motivated by the same sour-grapes psychology that caused so many Republican pundits to dismiss Romney as “superficial” and “slick.”

The fact that Romney was able to talk meaningfully about economics — another woeful shortcoming of John McCain — was scorned as irrelevant by those who believed that the heroic biography would conquer all. Just like Bob Dole . . .

UPDATE: Linked by Daniel Larison:

As for Romney, he was considered superficial and slick because he seemed to have no core political beliefs that he would not abandon at the drop of a hat if there was some advantage in it.

The accusation that Romney was an unprincipled opportunist — a flip-flopper — didn’t bother me very much, since at least he was flip-flopping in the right direction, whereas McCain seemed to believe that his stubborn advocacy of bad ideas (including amnesty for illegals) was a virtue in its own right.

I would further add, in response to Larison’s criticisms of Palin, that there was no one on John McCain’s short list of VP candidates (Tom Ridge? Joe Lieberman?) who would have met with Larison’s approval.

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