When too much of a good thing creates negatives


Am I the only observer who thinks Mitt Romney is too good-looking?

He’s Mormon, and certainly no John Edwards on the narcissism scale. But now that Romney is the Republican presidential nominee, we can expect some snarky comments about his jeans and buttoned down shirt look, the dark, slicked back hair, parted just so, and the million-dollar smile.

Is this not an image made for Twitter dicing and slicing?

The New York Times already took that route to some extent over the weekend with a story about the “horsey set,” and the Romneys’ love of dressage. These are the beautiful people.

Does Ken doll sound snarky enough?

And once you go there, does Romney the candidate take on the aspersions with which our society stereotypes beautiful people? Light weight. Dilettante. Vacuous.

Women surely suffer from these negatives more than men ever will, but this campaign will create whispers and more about Romney being all looks and no substance. Too good to be true.

I raise the issue not because I want to diminish Mitt Romney or his presidential chances. I’m intrigued by the idea that too much of a good thing can cause crisis issues. You want to tell Romney’s handlers to get him out chopping wood, rolling in the mud with his sons — heck, allowing one hair to go spontaneously askew.

I’ve been reading a lot lately — via Robert Caro — about John F. Kennedy and what a lightweight he really was in the years leading to his presidential ascension. But once he spoke, turned on the charm and bathed his good looks in the relatively new medium of television, he changed how voters evaluated political leaders. Romney swims in the same waters.

Lyndon B. Johnson underestimated Kennedy, to Johnson’s demise; Barack Obama should not underestimate Romney as just another pretty face.

Usually we ascribe super-human or other-human traits to actors and athletes, expecting them to be examples of charm, success and charisma only to be repeatedly shocked when they turn out to be callous, greedy and self-centered, or worse.

In a world revealed by television, video, webcasts and the like, Romney has dramatic advantages before he speaks a word. But he also needs to come across as real and substantial. Hundreds of papers researched and written tell us that when voters enter the booth, most of the issues argued about all campaign cancel out and decisions focus on likeability, feel, attraction.

Too much of a good thing can be a problem and a potential crisis that should be addressed.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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