On the November 6 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk, footage of Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (TN) played on-screen while host Martha MacCallum said, “I was reading something about evolution and it talked about virility and, you know, health and fitness and survival of the fittest. It's sort of a natural instinct, in many ways, to look at someone like [Sen.] Barack Obama [D-IL] as you point out, and say, you know, he looks young, he looks healthy, he looks strong.”
MacCallum was discussing the issue of plastic surgery and the importance of good looks in politics with her “A-List” roundtable, consisting of Paul Rieckhoff, Iraq war veteran and executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and author of Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington (NAL Hardcover, May 2006), Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez, Financial Times contributor Cody Willard, and reporter Lisa Evers of New York station WNYW Fox 5.
Introducing the segment, which aired on the eve of the November 7 midterm elections, MacCallum stated: “I should point out at the outset that [Gov.] Arnold Schwarzenegger [R-CA] and [Sens.] John Kerry [D-MA] and Hillary Clinton [D-NY], all of whom we'll take a look at today, have all denied having any work done. And we take them at their word, but we're gonna get just some thoughts on this in general.” But MacCallum then asked Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Griffin to comment on the likelihood that Kerry, Schwarzenegger, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), and Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) had cosmetic procedures, showing on-screen graphics of each and prompting Griffin to speculate that each had indeed had elective cosmetic surgery and praise their decisions to do so. Next, MacCallum discussed the importance of plastic surgery for high-profile politicians with the “A-List.” Other highlights of the discussion included:
- Evers wondering, “I mean, the question is, now, because of this emphasis and people getting Botox, will that be a legitimate campaign expense?”
- MacCallum: “You bring up [former President] Ronald Reagan, and he said, you know, my youth is not be confused with your inexperience or -- I'm sorry, I'm getting that quote completely wrong.”
- While showing footage of former Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards preparing for a television interview, MacCallum stated, " This poor guy, this was on every -- it would be all over YouTube today, but it was on every Internet site just fixing his hair, and fixing his hair, and fixes his hair." Sanchez added, “They said the same thing about [former Vice President] Dan Quayle. You know, that there wasn't substance there.”
- Rieckhoff asserted, “You can be too smooth, too. You can be somebody like Edwards who's too smooth. [Sen.] John McCain's [R-AZ] not very good-looking. He looks older, but he's very popular in the polls. He looks tough, he looks like he can handle it.”
From the November 6 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk with Martha MacCallum:
MacCALLUM: Big question out there today: How important is it for candidates to look their best when they are out there trying to win over votes? Many people remember the historic debate between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. Nixon did not wear makeup, he was recovering from the flu, he had lost weight, he suffered a knee injury, he had a really bad day going there. He also wore a gray suit which provided just a very slight contrast with the background, all of these things that in television people are very aware of now. Kennedy wore a dark suit, he had makeup on, he was coached on how to sit and how to be on TV basically. It marked television's grand entrance into politics, and it forced all politicians from that day to put their best face forward. So joining me from Los Angeles is plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Griffin. Good to have you with us, Doctor.
GRIFFIN: Good afternoon.
MacCALLUM: You know, there are constantly accusations or suggestions flying around out there of different politicians and what kind of work they've had done and what they're doing to put their best face forward, you might say. You know, let's take a look at a couple of these pictures. And I should point out at the outset that Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, all of whom we'll take a look at today, have all denied having any work done. And we take them at their word, but we're gonna get just some thoughts on this in general. There's a look at John Kerry. What do you think about him?
GRIFFIN: Well, he looks a lot better now. I mean, clearly he's had Botox in his forehead. But you know, it's so much pressure now to look good and to not have anything that distracts from your message. And so if you've got these big wrinkles or this unwanted frown, you know, this is something you can get rid of, and it's easily fixable.
MacCALLUM: So, Dr. Griffin, we're gonna take a look at Nancy Pelosi, but we should also point out that you don't have any personal involvement in the care of any of these people, correct?
GRIFFIN: No. No, I don't.
MacCALLUM: All right. So, so Nancy Pelosi who looks great, by all accounts. And she's a grandmother, right?
GRIFFIN: Right. And she looks fantastic. I mean, her neck is smooth, she looks like she's had some eyelid work, and again, it doesn't look out of balance, it doesn't look distracting, and she looks great.
MacCALLUM: Arnold Schwarzenegger is another man who has spent a great portion of his life taking good care of himself. He also looks really good, you know. But when you're in a position like Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, anybody who's been in the public eye for a long time, people, you know, they're just so used to being looked at and wanting to keep up those appearances and we don't live in a society where aging is looked too favorably on, unfortunately.
GRIFFIN: Well, yeah, I mean, basically the politicians are like entertainers now. I mean, they're celebrities. And, of course, Arnold's a movie star, so he knows the importance of looking good. And it looks like he's had a little Botox, and there's nothing wrong with that.
MacCALLUM: We're gonna pull up a quick picture of Elizabeth Dole, and then we can move on to Hillary. You can talk about both of those women and their appearance over the years. Go ahead, Michael. Dr. Griffin?
MacCALLUM: So Elizabeth Dole, we're looking at now.
GRIFFIN: Right. I mean, she's obviously restyled her hair. I mean, she's got a nice, soft, inviting look, and that's what you want if you're in the public. So I don't think there's anything wrong with it, and I think, quite frankly, everybody who's in media should get it.
MacCALLUM: All right, Doctor, thank you. I'll take that to heart. Thank you very much. Dr. Griffin joining us -- why is it plastic-surgery doctors think everybody should get plastic surgery, right? Very good for business.
SANCHEZ: Looking for new customers always
MacCALLUM: Leslie, what do you think about this? You feel terrible even picking apart these pictures and looking at these folks, but they, you know, they put themselves out there every day, and anybody who does that, you know, myself included, you're subject to all kinds of scrutiny. So what do you think about the move and the importance of looking good out there on the political campaign trail?
SANCHEZ: I, first -- I just want to say they all look very rested because that's the term --
MacCALLUM: They do!
EVERS: Not rehabilitated, rested.
SANCHEZ: Rested. No, but that being said, I think voter -- what's surprising is voter instincts are very acute on this issue, and there was a study that was revealed today that said that when they just looked at the appearances of candidates' charisma and beauty, they could almost overwhelmingly determine who would win that election. It's frightening. It's frightening.
WILLARD: There are studies out there that show, you know, that good-looking people get further in life, right. But I think, you know, the problem I've got with even the commentary earlier from the plastic surgeon -- he used like “better,” he looks “good” -- these are qualitative statements; I don't think there's anything more beautiful than lines of experience on a woman. I see a candidate, I don't care whether they look young or not. And I even disagree with you that we don't live in a society that -- that embraces age. I think age is fine, I think we do embrace age.
RIECKHOFF: I don't know, look at Barack Obama. Everybody keeps talking about how young he is, how good-looking he is. And I think that proves a point that attractive people --
WILLARD: I think that's more of a statement of a generational thing; we're trying --
MacCALLUM: But you know what they say, evolution -- I was reading something about evolution and it talked about virility and, you know, health and fitness and survival of the fittest. It's sort of a natural instinct, in many ways, to look at someone like Barack Obama, as you point out, and say, you know, he looks young, he looks healthy, he looks strong. Like he can -- he can be in there for the long haul.
EVERS: And that whole image has been very important. You look at presidential campaigns, with President Reagan there was so much emphasis on how fit he was and, how, you know, healthy he was. I mean, the question is, now, because of this emphasis and people getting Botox, will that be a legitimate campaign expense? Will they be allowed to deduct --
MacCALLUM: You bring up Ronald Reagan and he said, you know, my youth is not to be confused with your inexperience or -- I'm sorry, I'm getting that quote completely wrong. But I'll get it while we take a look. But you know when you take a look at John Edwards, for example, a person who had so much emphasis on his looks, and now when you read the polls, and it's very early on to count him out, of course, but he doesn't rate that high in the polls when you look at possible Democratic candidates. Here's -- you know, this poor guy, this was on every -- it would be all over YouTube today, but it was on every Internet site just fixing his hair, and fixing his hair, and fixes his hair.
SANCHEZ: They said the same thing about Dan Quayle. You know, that there wasn't substance there. And I think the bigger issue, it's a more of an influencer among people who haven't made up their mind.
RIECKHOFF: You can be too smooth, too. You can be somebody like Edwards who's too smooth. John McCain's not very good-looking. He looks older, but he's very popular in the polls. He looks tough, he looks like he can handle it. So it doesn't always work out
WILLARD: I think most important take-away, though, is that we do need to pass some campaign-finance restructuring so that people can make sure that they get Botox.
MacCALLUM: All right.