February 5, 2007

He's still tall, though, right?

Ah, conventional wisdom, you fickle mistress. The New York Times today ran an article about how John Kerry is a depressing, ugly, lifeless loser. Even Wonkette was struck by how mean the article was.

What's more, the Times notes right up top that Kerry has always been this way. "Even in the best of times, Mr. Kerry’s face hung droopy and funereal, one of the most weary in American politics." Gosh, how'd the guy even get elected to the Senate?

Wait, could losing an election have made John Kerry physically uglier — retroactively? Here are some descriptions of him from 2001 to 2004.

"He is an attractive man, handsome." — Brit Hume, Fox News

"matinee-idol handsome." —Larry J. Sabato, Center for Politics

"Kennedy-like charisma" —Iowa City Press-Citizen

"Charismatic" —R. Emmett Tyrell Jr., New York Sun

"Do you have the charm and charisma and oratoric ability of John Kerry?" —Chris Matthews (to Joe Biden) MSNBC

"eloquent and highly charismatic" —Oakland Post

"handsome blue blood" —US News & World Report

"an extremely handsome man with a head chiselled from marble" — Nicholas Lemann, The New Yorker

"He's tall, he's attractive, he's charismatic" —Bill McInturff, GOP pollster

"Handsome man. Lot of charisma, that guy." — Joe Kernan, CNBC

"Tall, handsome" —Daily News

Here's a batch from 2000, when Al Gore was considering him as a VP candidate (so some of this may be in comparison to Al Gore):

"charismatic Vietnam War hero" —Newsweek

"charismatic, decorated Vietnam hero?" —Newsweek

"Mr Kerry and Mr Edwards, who are both seen as charismatic campaigners conveying a youthful, energetic image." —Financial Times

"a charismatic campaigner " —USA Today

"A handsome, decorated Vietnam veteran" —Raleigh News and Observer

"tall, handsome, reserved" — Pittsburg Post-Gazette

"very handsome, very articulate" —Linda Douglass, ABC News

"an attractive, aggressive Vietnam War hero" —Deborah Orin, NY Post

"young, sort of vigorous" —Julia Reed, MSNBC

"tall, handsome, reserved" - Mary McGrory, Washington Post

And here's a handful from before 2000:

"tall, handsome and rich" —US News & World Report

"rich and handsome, Ivy-educated, patrician Democratic senator" — Bob Schieffer, CBS News

"tall, handsome" — Washingtonian

"handsome and successful" —Oregonian

"tall, 50-ish, attractive" —Cindy Adams, New York Post

"An attractive Yale graduate decorated for naval heroics in Viet Nam before he turned against the war, the Irish-American Kerry is conspicuously Kennedyesque." —Kurt Andersen, Time

Bonus: At least she hasn't changed her mind... Has she?

"He's very hunky, very handsome. I would say he's as good - or better looking - than John Kennedy." — Teresa Heinz Kerry, 1997

Posted by Daniel Radosh


The dividing line between handsome and not is prostate cancer surgery, Februry 2003.

Or failing to deliver the vicarious charge of victory to people who don't win very much in their own lives, like the losing team the day after the Super Bowl.

The Onion had it right in '04.

He's gorgeous. Brilliant, too, but that's another topic.
IMO, he's totally hot.


The media is Hell bent on distorting everything Kerry says and does. It doesn't surprise me that they are also trying to give him an "ugly" makeover. Don't they think people have eyes, especially when the man is in the Senate of all places, where most of the folks are short, bald and geriatric? He stands out like a sore thumb as being one of the handsomest and certainly most distinguished of the gentlemen lawmakers (probably better looking than some of the women too). Already a handsome man, if you put Kerry next to the likes of Biden, Reid, Lieberman, Levin, etc., he's a virtual movie star! And even more to the point, he is very charismatic. He doesn't just get the rock star treatment abroad, but wherever he goes in the US, people crowd around him like he's giving away hundred dollar bills. And all he's giving away is a moment of his time and a charming smile.

I remember meeting that Kerry fellow and hearing him speak. He's brilliant. To top that off, he's tall and extremely attractive. Put another way, he's gorgeous. In fact, is there another high-profile member of Congress who fits the Kerry mold?

Great post. Yes that was an unbelieveable hit piece by the NYT, and I'm glad to see everyone pointing out what an out of control article it is. I met JK once, and in addition to being tall and handsome, he has a nice smile, too (which the writers at the NYT had to edit out in order for their narrative to hold together). In fact, he seemed happy, also in opposition to the script. Oh well, my eyes must have been deceiving me.

I'm on board with all those published comments, plus especially those of DynamicDems. I'll just add that Kerry's smile is not only charming, but electric. Plus, besides all the physical stuff, I happen to find intelligence, courage, gravitas, and integrity irresistable, He's a rock star in my book, And, whatever the opinions of self-serving or confused Democrat politicos, or the craven media, I know that I'm far from alone in finding him not only an attractive man, but a much-needed voice for our nation, and the world. He shoulda been president, dammit. Shame on the Dems and the media. Shame on all of us.

Like Prosense, I remember meeting Senator Kerry this last December. He was very tall, charismatic and handsome, but what was more unusual was that the look in his eyes was extremely kind.

The NYT writer was wrong, not just in missing the fact that he is good looking - but, even in what had to be the worst of times, he was still able to smile and laugh.

More importantly, the writer misses that as a leader and as a good Senator, his job is not to follow Senator Reid, but to follow his conscience and the interests of the people of Massachusetts. Senator Kerry, chosen very convincingly by the Democratic people as their nominee had a right in 2005 to be a Democratic leader - whether the NYT or Senator Reid wanted him to or not. It's interesting that the press never demanded that McCain or Kennedy stay quiet because they are not part of the leadership.

On Iraq, Reid and the Clinton wing of the party wanted to avoid a Senate debate in 2006 because they thought it could hurt politically. They were wrong on the politics as the two amendments, that existed only because Senator Kerry persisted in demanding his amendment go to the floor, countered the Republican claim that the Democrats had no plan.

But, more importantly, Senator Kerry was right to speak out because as he said many times, he could not be a Senator in good standing and not speak out when he knew the policy was wrong. He then spoke of how half the names on the Vietnam Wall were for people who died after the leaders knew they couldn't win.

Well over half of Democrats polled last summer supported options close to Kerry/Feingold. So, even though Senator Reid did not want want Senator Kerry leading on this, he was doing what an excellent leader does; following his conscience and convincing people that his direction is the correct one.

So, in response to the NYT, not only is Senator Kerry handsome, but he is a very good man and an excellent leader who the country already regrets not following. In a cynical age, he is the real deal.

Karynnj. Thanks so much for your comments. Oh, yes, the kind eyes, too. And the ability to laugh at the worst of times. And thanks for recapping the depth and courage of his leadership in the Senate. Sen. Kerry is a mensch: as you said so wonderfully, "in a cynical age, he is the real deal."

my dream 2008 presidential ticket: george clooney and benicio del toro. you get the hispanic vote, too.

OMG!!! hes so hott but i hear hes totally dating jessica simpson wassupwitthat lol!!! :)

Wait, this is MySpace, right?

I agree with his wife: John Kerry is a hunk! And I think a lot of the negativity in the media just might come from less handsome and fit men who are simply envious. He's not only good-lookin', he's smart as a whip and a truth-teller.

Great post. It still amazes me that in 2000 public speculation was that Kerry's charisma might dangerously overshadow Al Gore if he was the VP choice.

And yet, as of 2004 - gone! Zero charisma. Funny.

The NYT must be hallucinating if they think they are going to be able to convience the public that a tall, trim,athletic, well dressed, articulate,intelligent,gracious,considerate man with a smile that lights up a room and a wonderful head of hair, is actually unlikable and an outcast. Senator Kerry? I have been at events where people flock around him and stand in huge lines for a picture, an autograph or a word with him. My guess is the author must be suffering from superiority envy and the NYT, acting on behalf of others is more than willing to promote inaccuracies.

Thinking about this, something else comes to mind: why should it matter what Senator Kerry looks like or what his demeanor is? The writer of this piece is apparently way too concerned with monitoring every expression on a senator's face. Why would anyone feel the need to analyze Senator Kerry on the basis of his looks or his personality? John Kerry is a lawmaker not a super model. How many articles are written that discuss other members of the Senate is such superficial terms? I don't see any. Do we see articles written about the multiple comb-overs or the paunches that spill over many a senatorial gut? Nope. But the pundits and “journalists” are rather fixated on Kerry’s appearance. They are also obsessed with interpreting his demeanor at every turn. For a change, they might start looking at the legislation he writes and the issues he champions instead of the creases on his brow.

Frankly, I wouldn't care if John Kerry had three eyes, a tail, dressed in polka dots and was a chronic gum popper as long as he continued to work as hard as he does for the people of Massachusetts and America. Makes one wonder what the priorities are at the NYT these days.

I can't believe John Kerry has nothing better to do than to post self-congratulary comments on your blog under multiple pseudonyms. What a droopy, funereal, forlorn loser!

I meant "self-congratulatory" of course. And "droopy" should have been "helmet-haired".

Do you also think that he cast all those votes in the caucuses and primaries for himself? Maybe,as Dylan said, you should not criticize what you can't understand. He is a statesman who would have made an excellent President.

Dynamicdem is right how he looks is not relevent to his job. Doesn't the NYT have an editor?

Nice try, Francis. I assure you I am real, as are the others. Sorry you can't believe it -- guess you believe the sorry MSM over real Americans, and that is sad.

This is an altogether lovely post and a breath of fresh air in the stale journalistic funk of John Kerry hatred. I've also met the man and I agree with others who have that in person it's not only his physical attractiveness, impressive stature, charisma (and gorgeous eyes) that make him the center of attention in any crowd, but his incredible aura of intelligence, self-deprecating humor and compassion.

Sorry to say it, Francis, but anyone who comments as you do is without a doubt an envious guy...

Thanks for the work that went into this post -- it brought me a big smile on a chilly winter morning!

I assure you, I am no John Kerry, not even close. Few manage to achieve the stature,leadership and devoted following he has.

This thread is really starting to eclipse the caption contest for humor value.

I'm coining a new word: Swoonbats.

Hmm, "swoonbats" -- I like it. Sounds kinda graceful. :-)

Eric: yes, it's always guaranteed comedy gold when earnest people preach to the subverted.

I'm not sure of the date, but Bill Maher got off the following:

"Today, somebody released footage of John Kerry throwing apples at Dorothy. To me he just looks like the tree from 'The Wizard of Oz.'"

Another Swoonbat, here, reporting for duty.

Actually, whether or not Kerry is hot is really here nor there. His good looks are sort of a nice bonus to his legislative and investigative record.

Well granted, Sen. Kerry could probably never pull off the wearing of an Incredible Hulk tie quite like his Senate colleague Ted Stevens, nor is he likely to be a big favorite of the hair plug lobby anytime soon, but he is still one handsome hunk of a man (And as a bonus, he's also wicked smart.)

My guess is that NYT writer Mark Leibovich is simply jealous of the senator's accomplishments, intelligence, looks and star-power. That's okay Mr. Leibovich, there can be only one John Kerry - you just don't happen to be him.

What was the purpose of the NYT piece anyway? Why was it necessary to print trash like this? I like Senator Kerry and I resent having to read hit pieces like the NYT piece. The senator deserves better treatment from the media and some in his own party and if we "swoonbats" overreact, it is defense of a man who has continued to have all of our backs even after the 2004 loss. I don't like to see good people subjected to this type of media bullsh*t. Why don't they direct this type of junk towards the real bad guys.


What is really sad is that the NYT author found more positive to say about - Dick Cheney than John Kerry. That simply shows a lack of taste.

Also, he doesn't put his photo on his book - Amazon.com has the front and back image - I wonder why.

Sigh. I know I shouldn't rattle any cages here, but how do you read that article as saying anything *positive* about Dick Cheney? It's pretty clearly a joke at the expense of people who are in love with the totally unlovable veep.

And a big Kansas welcome he gets: cheers, sustained applause, even some war whoops — yes, war whoops. Loving ones.

“Well, that warm welcome is almost enough to make me want to run for office again,” the vice president responds. “Almost.”

Mr. Cheney’s favorability ratings might be in an underground bunker, somewhere beneath the president’s (at 20 percent in the most recent New York Times poll). Critics deride him as a Prince of Darkness whose occasional odd episodes — swearing at a United States senator, shooting a friend in a hunting accident and then barely acknowledging it publicly — suggest a striking indifference to how he is perceived. Even admirers who laud his intellect and steadiness rarely mention anything about his electrifying rooms or people.

But then there are people like these, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel Manor Conference Center in Topeka.... None of the Cheneyphiles here are mentioning Mark Foley, the former Republican congressman at the center of the House page scandal, or the precarious hold Republicans might have on Congress or, for the most part, the problems in Iraq. Nor is anyone mentioning Mr. Cheney’s unpopularity in the polls, except in terms of all the unfair attacks from Democrats and the “liberal media.”

Also, have you ever seen a book? Unless the author is famous for something other than writing, his photo never goes on the cover.

I like John Kerry. He would have made a great president.

Of course he's handsome, and a gentleman, and a world statesman. . . .

Wonder why he's now suddenly under ad hominem media attack? Are they afraid of something?

Point taken, but still the piece on JK seemed more mean sprited and personal. While the writer is honest in his assessment of Cheney and even on the incidents associated with Cheney, he isn't so with Kerry. Nope, he got personal with Kerry and has had some fun mocking his personally based more on RW tags than anything else. Comparing his pieces on Chaney and Kerry, they can not be said to both be fair and balanced.

I half agree, anonymous (and by the way, I can see your IP address, so I know who you are; why the sudden reticence?). I'd call the Cheney piece lighthearted snarky and the Kerry one just plain cruel. Also, the Cheney piece is grounded in observable anecdotes, while the Kerry one -- as my original point was intended to show -- is based entirely on free-floating "conventional wisdom." However I don't see right wing bias necessarily. If anything, he sounds more like a wounded Democrat still angry that Kerry blew the election with his inept campaigning (as I am, frankly). My issue has never been with whether Kerry is handsome or not, or whether the media has some agenda to belittle him for nefarious purposes, It was simply to point out that the media likes its comfortable, reductive narratives so much that it doesn't even recognize that the one it has settled on is often 180 degrees different from the one it followed in the past.

Is my joke funnier now that I've spelled it out? Ask Bill Maher and the apple trees!

Do not trust anything Francis says. He published an entire book of poetry which he claimed was by various famous authors, but I have it on good authority that he actually wrote it all himself.

I didn't realize anger still ran so deep over the 2004 election. Personally, I never though Kerry bungled the campaign on his own, mistakes were made sure, but he didn't like the outcome either. He won't point fingers though and blame others for the campaign mistakes, he takes full responsibility. He wanted to be President and take out Bush too. He wanted to win. I never was angry at Senator Kerry for the outcome. I was angry at the media for assisting Rove and Bush in manipulating the public's opinions and scaring them into staying with Bush. I also lay blame on the Dem party for not forcefully backing up Kerry. Any change Kerry could defuse this anger still remaining over 2004?
(I forgot to fill in my name earlier)

I'm going to guess (and I could be completely off base, here) that it's really more a matter of the media's current fascination/infatuation with Obama than any reflection on Kerry himself.

The media's indeed fickle, but it seems it took a "new kid in town" before someone realized that Kerry was never handsome, and had no public charm.

C'mon. I mean, he lost to *Bush* for chrissakes.

Do you also think that he cast all those votes in the caucuses and primaries for himself?

I notice that even at this late hour, Francis still has not answered this question. But that's OK, I think we all know the answer: Yes, Francis does think that. He's delusional.

wisteria -- I didn't mean to imply that I'm still (or ever was) viscerally angry. I was pissed for a while, then I got over it. And there's plenty of blame to go around, sure, but Kerry was the candidate and he's right to take full responsibility, because ultimately, it was his fault. I said at the time that he'd have made a good president, and I'd probably still vote for him over Hillary. But there are plenty of better candidates out there and Kerry certainly doesn't have my good will. (Maybe returning my wasted campaign contributions would help.) Honestly, I don't see what changes he can make because everything good that he does now -- calling for withdrawal from Iraq, for instance -- only makes me ask, "why the fuck didn't you say that in 2004?" I hope he enjoys a long, effective Senate career, and he can look however he wants while he's doing it.

I don't want to beat "a dead horse" so to speak, but I am curious, since you feel Sen. Kerry didn't speak out and say what you felt needed to be said in 04, I was wondering what candidates were you would consider supporting this time out?
Oh, and really not to be sarcastic, but that money you spoke about donating to Kerry. A lot of what remained went to supporting candidates this past mid- term election and many of those candidates Kerry supported won their elections.
Sorry, we can not see eye to eye on Senator Kerry, but it has been a pleasure discussing this all with you.

I was, of course, joking about the money. Though I do wish he'd spent it more wisely in 04.

Back then (as my regular readers may recall) I supported Dean for as long as that was tenable, and then Edwards. I never particularly liked Kerry, though I did eventually come to decide that he would have made a better president than candidate.

Currently I'm again leaning toward Edwards (despite some quibbles), though I think Obama has potential -- he's so articulate! I'd be very interested in seeing the New Gore enter the race too, though I didn't much like the old one.

If Clinton wins the primary, I'll probably cast a protest vote in the general, unless the GOP nominates someone truly crazy like Brownback.

Thanks for not bailing on the conversation just because I enjoy a bit of snarkiness and tend to be less doctrinaire than some of the DUers would apparently like.

Thank you, Vance, yes -- I've always believed that on every election day, John Kerry gets into his reindeer-driven sleigh and rides to every election booth, casting votes for himself and leaving presents for all the children of the election district. You'd look droopy, too, with all that windburn.

Well now, that's just silly. I can't be sure but I have a feeling that you're just making fun now. Don't listen to him, John Kerry!

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