Jewish World Review July 9, 2004 / 20 Tamuz, 5764

Neil Cavuto

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Why don't ugly people have charisma? | If I heard it once, I must have heard it a thousand times in this over-the-top coverage of John Edwards' ascent to John Kerry's running mate — Edwards has charisma. He complements the ticket, jazzes up the ticket, energizes the ticket and, as one newspaper even wrote, electrifies the ticket.

So I'm thinking to myself, John Edwards is a good-looking guy. He's got great hair, a great smile. Would people be calling him charismatic or electrifying if he didn't have great hair and didn't have a great smile? What if he had no hair? What if he never smiled? Let's say John was a sulker, even a scowler, then what?

I'll tell you what. We wouldn't be saying squat about charisma! Here are the sad facts, folks: Good-looking people have charisma. Schleps like yours truly do not. By the way, I take none of this personally. I so happen to have been born with a nice round face only my mother could love (and later my wife, with much coaxing).

But again, that's OK. Richard Nixon knew what he was up against in 1960. John Kennedy had matinee idol good looks. Old Dickster looked like he needed to shave three times a day and even then still looked like a used car salesman at closing time. Never mind Nixon was pretty solid in those debates; JFK looked mahvelous! End of story.

Mahvelous-looking people get the breaks. And I hate to break it to you, ugly people do not. Even really cool, getting-it-done ugly people. Take Winston Churchill. You know in all the biographies and books I've read on the guy, words like "inspiring," sometimes even "awe-inspiring," come to mind, but never, not once, "charismatic." Same with Abraham Lincoln. Definitely "bold" and "brave," but never in my American history books do I recall him being dubbed a "hottie."

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Here's why. Ugly people are never hotties. Charismatic people are. Charisma implies sexy. And sexy ain't guys like Churchill and Lincoln. Sexy is guys like JFK and John Edwards. Good-looking dudes with good-looking smiles. Trust me, if John Edwards loses the hair or puts on 60 pounds, game over. If he loses the hair and gains 60 pounds, game really over!

But why should that be the case? Come to think of it, if Edwards gained 60 pounds and lost all his hair, he'd look like Dick Cheney! And for my money, that guy hasn't been doing too shabby a job! And that's my point. Why the hell do we make such a big deal out of things that shouldn't be a big deal?

They say in corporate America, more often than not, good-looking people advance up the ladder more quickly than ugly people. I don't know about that one, seeing as many of the guys I work with aren't winning any beauty contests. (Thank God my bosses value my brains over my not-so-buff bod!)

What worries me in this all too shallow society of ours is we're teaching our kids that attributes as vague and relatively meaningless as a toothy smile or a fine head of hair make a fine statement about a person. What they tell me is that they've got a nice smile and a nice head of hair. But I'm looking for what's behind the smile and what's underneath that head of hair.

Don't think I'm jealous — OK, maybe a little bit. But sexy guys get all the breaks and, at least when I was in school desperately trying to hook up with a certain cheerleader or two, all the babes!

But I think we should set our standards a little higher when we're electing the most powerful men on the planet. Trust me, I know you can be sexy and smart. But that doesn't mean you write off the guy who's ugly and smart.

I've known attractive airheads, and I've known ugly idiots. It takes a lot of watching, examining and soul-searching to tell

the difference.

That's up to voters. But it's up to the media first to boldly say the bald guy with the gut has some appealing qualities. It's a good thing Winston Churchill was around before the shallow age of television. He might never have become one of the greatest leaders of all time and — for my money — one of the most charismatic. And, what the heck, also one of the sexiest.

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Neil Cavuto is managing editor of Business News at FOX News Channel. He is also the host of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" and "Cavuto on Business." He's the author of "More Than Money : True Stories of People Who Learned Life's Ultimate Lesson". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.


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© 2003, Neil Cavuto