Looking the Part

Yesterday, we published an essay of mine called “Books and Covers.” It is part of a new collection, Digging In. Can you judge a book by its cover? Sure, sometimes. And other times not. You have to be careful about those other times.

At The New Criterion today, I have an anecdote that relates to books and covers. I overheard something at Lincoln Center last week, kind of annoying. And here on the Corner, I’d like to talk T. — talk Trump.

“Presentation is very important,” said his spokesman. This was in discussing the boss’s personnel picks. More than a few have come from television — Fox News, in particular. And you remember what Trump said after choosing Mike Pence as his running mate. Among other things, “he looks very good.”

“The man with the mustache!” That’s what President Bush (43) exclaimed once, when he spotted his U.N. ambassador, John Bolton. I will now quote the Washington Post, from last month:

“Several of Trump’s associates said they thought that John R. Bolton’s brush-like mustache was one of the factors that handicapped the bombastic former United Nations ambassador in the sweepstakes for secretary of state.”

Bolton is not bombastic, by the way. In fact, he’s a rather cool, brainy, analytical customer.

Anyway, the Post quoted one Trump associate, “who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly”: “Donald was not going to like that mustache. I can’t think of anyone that’s really close to Donald that has a beard that he likes.”

I like Bolton’s mustache a lot. But then, I like Bolton. Muchly. Bigly.

Let’s talk presidents for a minute. FDR looked like one, wheelchair-bound or not. He was from Central Casting. How about Coolidge? Not the same, right? But Cal was very, very effective.

Everyone said that Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (D., S.C.) looked like a president. He didn’t get very far in the 1984 primaries. How about Trump? Does he look like a president? To a majority — of the Electoral College, at least — yes.

Most Popular


Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More