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Re: the NYMag Romney “plastered-on-smile” post that’s making the rounds today:
Why people are (rightly) suspicious of Romney’s 20-megaton smile is because it’s a reflex, not the product of a more natural emotion. What’s the difference? Physical reflexes express themselves in a constant way almost every time whereas the facial expression of true emotion has more distinction and nuance to it, made up as it typically is of different combinations and degrees of feelings and thoughts.
Unfortunately for Mitt, he has a very limited range of emotion which is why he’s always referred to, leading off the NY Mag piece, as a stiff or a robot.
I know someone is going to say: but politicians put on faces all the time so what Romney is doing in all those photos is actually no different than the “happy face” Obama or Bush would put on. Well, yes and no. It’s true that Obama and Bush apply public faces but both those men have (much) more capacity for true geniality than Romney does — Bush, the good ole boy, that much more so than Obama. That being the case, you’re still going to see more “plasticity,” more genuineness, and less resort to a “slap-happy reflex” in Obama, and certainly, in the Bush public face than what you see when the rigid Romney simply pulls the slap-happy “hey, how are ‘ya!” lever.
Something else to note about Romney “emotional spectrum,” by the way. The one emotion Mitt has no trouble experiencing in it’s full range (from annoyance to frustration, from offendedness to defensive counter-attack) is anger. In light of the terms above, you can tell the difference because these types of expressions look quite natural and distinct. There being a lower bar for people to experience “negative” emotions than “positive” ones from emotional development standpoint, Romney is regularly getting annoyed or ticked off … and he wears it on his sleeve.
(An, emphatic side message to NY Mag, by the way: “What, you guys never heard of a photo credit???”)
(photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images caption: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney greets supporters after addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Marriott Wardman Park February 11, 2011 in Washington, DC. A dozen potential Republican presidental hopefuls are set to address CPAC, the biggest gathering of conservative activists in the country.)
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