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February 19, 2012

The Romney “Plastered On” Smile


Recently, New York Magazine ran a post, made up of eleven photos, calling out Romney’s “plastered-on-smile.” Their explanation for it was that Romney was trying too hard not to be robotic … which is sort of in the ballpark.

Why people are (rightly) suspicious of Romney’s seemingly plastered-on smile is because it’s a reflex, not the result of a natural emotion. What’s the difference? Physical reflexes express themselves in a constant way almost every time whereas true emotion, particularly in a facial expression, has more distinction and nuance to it, made up as it is of combinations and degrees of feelings and thoughts, each which show up differently on the face. In Mitt’s case though, he has a very limited range of emotion — which is why he’s 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 how is what Romney is doing in all those photos actually any different from the “happy face” Obama or Bush would put on. Well, it’s true Obama and Bush also apply public faces, but both men have more capacity for responding to warmth and attention than Romney does — Bush, the good ole boy, that much more so than Obama. That being the case, you’re going to see more more authenticity and thus more uniqueness in Obama’s expression, and certainly, in the Bush public face than you’ll see when the rigid Romney simply pulls the “slap-happy” lever.

Something else to note about Romney’s “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 snarky counter-attack) is anger. You can tell the difference because these types of expressions, as mentioned before, look quite natural and distinct. There being a lower bar for people to experience “negative” emotions than “positive” ones from an emotional development standpoint, Romney has no trouble getting annoyed or ticked off … and he wears it on his sleeve.

(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.)

  • Anonymous

    Here’s Johnny !! Willard !!

    which is why he’s referred to, leading off the NY Mag piece, as a stiff or a robot.

    Like Al Gore?

  • Anonymous

    Here’s Johnny !! Willard !!

    which is why he’s referred to, leading off the NY Mag piece, as a stiff or a robot.

    Like Al Gore?

  • Enoch Root

    What’s amazing about Romney is that you can almost see the process that re-creates his façade from second to second. It wears down a little as each sentence progresses, and then when he’s made his point all the armor snaps back into readiness.

    I think the anger/rage is probably a consequence of all the internal stresses required to maintain that façade. Also the chafing from the magic underwear.

  • the wodm

    Mitt Romney Converted Deceased Father-In-Law

    Earlier this week, Gawker’s John Cook wondered whether Mitt Romney’s father-in-law had been converted to Mormonism — posthumously. Wrote Cook:

    Edward Davies, Ann Romney’s Welsh father, was an engineer, inventor,
    and entrepreneur who worked on designs for the Gemini space program and
    helped outfit aircraft carriers. He eventually became the mayor of
    Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He was also a resolute atheist who insisted
    that his family be raised without participating in an organized
    religion. “He would say: ‘I’m a scientist, show me the proof’,” a former co-worker told the Telegraph. Davies thought of religion as “drudgery and hogwash,” according to Boston Globe, and his son Roderick told the paper that Davies “considered people who were religious to be weak in the knees.”
    So it must have broken his heart when, after his only daughter began
    dating Mormon scion Mitt Romney, she converted to his religion with
    the help of Mitt’s father.

    The conversions didn’t stop there. Mitt and his father, George,
    convinced Anne’s younger brother to join the church, and then dispatched
    missionaries to convert her elder brother, who was then attending
    school in England. The mission was successful. And after Edward died in
    1992, his wife — Anne Romney’s mother — decided she, too, would become
    a Latter-Day Saint.

    And so Cook asked:

    Mormons, of course, are known for their habit of posthumously converting dead souls.
    They also believe that families are reunited in eternity after death.
    So the incentive for Ann Romney to convert Edward Davies in death so
    that they may one day frolic together in the interplanetary afterlife
    was presumably fairly powerful. Did she posthumously baptize him,
    despite his belief while he lived that such a baptism and the beliefs
    that undergird it are pure “hogwash”?

    Cook contacted the Romney campaign and the Latter-Day Saints for
    info. Neither organization would comment, so Cook requested that any
    Mormon Gawker readers who might have access to the church’s baptismal
    records please contact him. As it turns out:

    Edward Davies, Mitt Romney’s militantly atheist father-in-law, was indeed posthumously converted to Mormonism by his family.
    … Davies was baptized as a Mormon at a “special family meeting”
    14 months after his death: “All ordinances except sealing to spouse
    performed in Salt Lake Temple on 19 Nov 1993 in special family

    That’s Mitt Romney. Republican on Earth, totalitarian in eternity. 

    • Whiskers

      Someone hasn’t done their research: vicarious baptisms in Mormon temples do not convert the deceased.  In our theology the dead person has the option of accepting or rejecting the baptism.  We also believe that the human soul is eternal, and desires and characteristics exhibited by someone on earth will stay with them when they die.  If someone was uninterested in Mormonism during their mortal life, their soul will most likely remain uninterested after death.

    • LanceThruster

      Not to worry, Bill Maher “unbaptised” him on a recent Real Time program. As an atheist, I found it quite funny.

      Two atheist maxims I’m fond of are -

      Nothing fails like prayer.


      Prayer…it’s the least you can do.

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