Dear Tell All: I've voted for longtime Madison Mayor Paul Soglin in the past, and I'm also a fan of the young Ald. Scott Resnick, who's challenging him in the upcoming election. As I try to decide between the two, I'll admit something I would only do so anonymously: I think sex appeal is a factor in a politician.
John Kennedy was young and good-looking and obviously the sexiest politician of all time. That contributed to his charisma, and his charisma contributed to his ability to lead. His opponent, Richard Nixon, was a troll. And look what happened when the troll finally got himself elected president.
Barack Obama is also relatively young and good-looking, which contributes to his Kennedyesque charm. He cuts a pleasing figure when giving a speech, and that makes me want to watch him. By contrast, I recoiled from his grumpy-grandpa opponent John McCain, who represented the old and the tired. So why would I want McCain as my president?
Bill Clinton was sexy, and I'll admit it had a downside in his case. But sex appeal undoubtedly helped get him elected twice, and it's hard to argue with the peace and prosperity of his eight years in office.
You see where I'm going with this. Paul Soglin had sex appeal when first elected mayor in the 1970s, but Scott Resnick is now sexy in a 2010s kind of way — a nerd-tech sexiness. Should I feel guilty about using this as a criterion for my vote?
Dear Silent: Yes, you should feel guilty. If I were a poll worker, I would refuse to hand you a ballot on April 7.
Can't you see that you've cherry-picked your examples? Dan Quayle was explicitly tapped as a vice presidential candidate in 1988 because of his sex appeal, despite little evidence of intelligence or wisdom. He had minimal leadership abilities and became a national laughingstock.
On the flip side, Abraham Lincoln was considered notably ugly by his contemporaries. Luckily, that didn't stop them from electing him as president, twice. His leadership qualities were clearly evident in his courageous policies and eloquent speeches.
Paul Soglin has proven himself a smart, effective Madison mayor. Scott Resnick is a credible challenger. Vote for one of them on April 7, but please don't base it on some gut instinct about sex appeal. Base it on trust, Silent Majority, not lust.
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