November 8, 2019
Author: Chilton Williamson

I have read the results of last Tuesday’s elections, which indicate that President Trump continues to lose ground in the suburbs, among women particularly. Many explanations for his unpopularity with educated and prosperous women, not all of whom I imagine are also ladies, are possible, of course. One of them, I suggest, is that Mr. Trump doesn’t smile enough. In fact he hardly ever smiles at all, except at his rallies as well as–once in a blue moon–for the press.

Women, of course, are known for a fondness for smiling things–babies and older children, female models, female politicians grinning like Cheshire cats over all the men whose jobbed they’ve appropriated (in politics, especially), actresses taking bows at the Oscars, and male politicians trying to charm them for their votes.  But Trump, most of the time, doesn’t smile–not even at them. Instead he faces the world with a set jaw, grim eyebrows, and his chin raised, daring anyone to mistake his very real jawbone for a glass one. (Hillary Clinton leads with her jaw the same way and a facial expression that says “I am Woman: Hear me roar!” but mainly when she does it she just looks like a bad high school actress playing Lady Macbeth, not someone who’s preparing to embark on a lynching tour of the Old South, or blow up the world.) Donald Trump is widely criticized for “not looking presidential.” As I think he usually looks very presidential indeed, partly because (unlike Barak Obama) he looks and sounds very male, I am wondering whether his unexpectedly unsmiling face is what really puts the women off him. Perhaps now and then he could give them a Reagan grin. Though Reagan, as I recall, wasn’t a favorite of the female sex either, despite having been a Hollywood actor. Perhaps if he could give a convincing imitation of Alan Alda, that might work for him.

Myself, I find the absence of a smile on most people’s faces, politicians’ most of all, extremely refreshing. The human face was really not designed for smiling but rather for the impassive, stern, or at least serious look of the sort you see in oil portraiture before the invention of the snapshot. Imagine George Washington grinning like Joe Biden. He’d never have been elected president but turned over by his countrymen for hanging by Cornwallis instead. Or, even better, Lincoln with a smirk like Pete Buttigieg’s.  Lee, all his men, and probably the entire South would have committed mass suicide rather than surrender to such a face. Of course, abolitionists, today’s progressive liberals, and Lincoln himself would have been delighted by that act of revulsion. So I’m pleased Old Abe’s resembled a Vermont stone wall.

What is there to smile about in politics these days, anyway? I should say, Nothing at all. And what has smiling done for Boris Johnson? True, he’s the PM now, but at least half of all Britons treat him as if he were an ignorant cabman who’d driven them to the National Portrait Gallery instead of the Tate Modern. Boris smiles all the time, and never subtly like the Cheshire Cat. Nevertheless, his political enemies are comparing him to Trump, the Orange Beast in the White House. And the women seem to be as bad as the men about this.

In my opinion, every real man looks like Doc Martin all of the time.