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January 21, 2008

Things that make you go “hm”

Filed under: The Fat's in the Fire — Francesca @ 6:37 am

According to the Associated Press (e.g. reprinted here), the staff of a Congressional candidate in Plumcake’s home state sent out a flier showing said candidate looking, er, slightly less portly than he is in reality:

Congressional candidate Dean Hrbacek appears slimmer than usual in a new campaign brochure because a photo of his head was affixed to the image of a different body.

While the mailer sent to voters this week by the former Sugar Land mayor says “Dean’s record speaks for itself,” his physique clearly does not.

The picture, presented as a true image of the candidate, is a computerized composite of Hrbacek’s face and someone else’s slimmer figure, in suit and tie, from neck to kneecaps.

Hrbacek, a tax lawyer and accountant, did not immediately return a call placed to his campaign headquarters Friday by The Associated Press. He’s among 10 Republicans seeking the nomination to run against U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Stafford.

Campaign manager Scott Broschart acknowledged the image is a fake. Hrbacek has been so busy meeting voters that he had no time to take a full-length, genuine photo for the political mailing, Broschart said.

So Hrbacek’s campaign put the headless body with the candidate’s head.

“He may appreciate that we took a few pounds off him,” Broschart said. “I think the voters … are more concerned with the issues as opposed to pretty photo shoots.”

Republican political consultant Allen Blakemore of Houston, who has no client in the congressional race, said there’s no law against the practice “other than the laws of gravity — the negative effect on your polling numbers and popularity when you do such things.”

What say you, ladies?

Do you believe that the candidate had no time to get dressed up for a proper photo shoot? Do you think that the choice of a slimmer body for the Photoshop job is a coincidence? Or do you think that they think that voters don’t like to see fat candidates? Do you think that a candidate is more likely to win if thin? Should weight matter in politics? Does it matter to you? Do you think a candidate is justified in Photoshopping his body? Do you think this Photoshopping “scandal” matters? Does it make the candidate untrustworthy, or do you really only care what a candidate has to say about “the issues” such as Iraq, the economy, abortion, etc?


  1. The whole “candidate appearance” thing has gotten totally out of hand, in my opinion. From Hillary’s “cleavage”(and everything else, from head to foot) to John Edwards hairdresser’s bill, to Fred Thompson’s “Is he dead yet?” to comments about Nancy Pelosi’s suits, to George Bush’s flight suit…it’s just so over the top now. I’m far more interested in people’s positions on issues – I expect them to dress in a professional manner, but do I care whether or not Hillary Clinton has ankles she is not proud of? Please. The candidates have now decided that looking in a certain way (professional but not manish for the women, professional but not like funeral directors for the men, vibrant for all) is part of their message – or at least they don’t want it to detract from their message. But the media pays far too much attention to what color suit the women are wearing (or whether or not Condi Rice is wearing her sexy boots) and how so and so’s hair looks than they are in the issues. That is the real problem.

    Comment by Toby Wollin — January 21, 2008 @ 9:52 am

  2. I am howling with laughter right now. That guy’s got the idea. Hey, how about all the candidates just pull a Cyrano, and have a super hot actor give all their speeches? Seems appropriate to the political climate and press coverage of the current elections.

    Comment by boots — January 21, 2008 @ 10:24 am

  3. When I read this, I thought of Mike Huckabee (I try to do this as little as possible, it makes my brain hurt). I’ve seen more than one “news” story where his weight loss seemed to be more of the story than his issues. While I think that regular voters want a candidate to look professional and “the part”, I think the whole idea of a candidate being controlled by polls is getting out of hand fast.

    Comment by Lisa — January 21, 2008 @ 10:56 am

  4. Although I don’t think it’s right for a political candidate to decieve voters about anything (although their weight is a pretty irrelevant topic, and none of our business if you ask me ), who was the last fat president we had?

    Like it or not, many people think that fat=poor health, or at the worst end of the spectrum, fat=bad person. A candidate’s weight may be relevant to his campaign if viewed from the position of his health. In this era of ubiquitous media coverage, one’s appearance does affect the vote.

    I still think it’s pretty silly, and that although he may not have had time for a formal portrait, they could have found at least one genuine photo of him to use.

    Comment by Sarah — January 21, 2008 @ 11:02 am

  5. The Photoshopping thing wigs me out a bit – I mean, if he’s not confident enough in himself and his body for a publicity shot, how do we know if he’ll be confident enough to stick to his principles when it comes to the issues?

    Does the body thing matter to me? As long as the clothing fits and he or she radiates confidence, hell no. Does the body thing matter to most people? Yes.

    Comment by sara — January 21, 2008 @ 12:48 pm

  6. In the longrun, this question would affect my vote and my opinion of the candidate about as much as that photo of Mike Dukakis in the tank affected my vote then: not at all. I do my best to vote for (or against) candidates based on their platforms and track records more than their body image or sense in picking photo ops. Both men did something monumentally stupid, but everyone – even public figures – is allowed the occassional inane brainfart in my book.

    The problem is I think I’m part of a small and shrinking segment of the voting population. I well remember during the Bush/Gore presidential election someone telling me she planned to vote for Bush because he seemed like the nicer person to her…but she had no clue what either candidate stood for in terms of policy. She’d never considered the question of how either man would choose new justices for the Supreme Court, what each one might do for or to our foriegn reputation, which was more likely to take us to war and where that might be…nothing that actually matters in terms of the job. No, she decided that Bush was the one she’d rather invite to a party and voted for him.

    Do I think Hrbacek, should have had his picture photoshopped? Of course not. It was a stupid thing to do when anyone could see the picture was a fake by glancing at the real man. It’s going to make some of the people who actually pay attention choose to place their vote elsewhere because they no longer trust him. OTOH, there are going to be people walking into those voting booths who haven’t heard about the scandal and who think the fact that he looked slim in the campaign materials, so he must be healthy and maybe he’s got a nice guy face. Part of having a Democracy (or actually, in our case, a Representational Republic) is you have to accept that the stupid and the thoughtless will vote alongside the intelligent and the thoughtful. In the longrun, as annoying as this little trick was, it may win him more votes than it loses him. We’ll see how he does, but in the longrun I doubt that we’ll get a very clear picture of whether this particular incident helped or hurt him more in the polls.

    That said…what a stupid, annoying, disingenuous, and utterly ludicrous thing to do. Humph.

    Comment by Twistie — January 21, 2008 @ 1:51 pm

  7. Issues aside, what I don’t get is this: who was he trying to fool? Who did he think would look at it, have never seen him on tv or in other representations, and vote based on his attractiveness? It’s too weird.

    Comment by Nemtynakht — January 21, 2008 @ 2:46 pm

  8. Why do you think the Rev Al Sharpton recently lost weight? Even police chiefs and others who know they will appear on TV camera are under the gun to appear h/w appropriate.

    Comment by Mimi Stratton — January 21, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

  9. It doesn’t matter to me that he used a “more attractive” body.

    What matters is that he considered it acceptable to practice a deception for his own convienance, and offers as the reason such a flimsy excuse as “didn’t have the time” to have a campaign photo taken.”

    Two questions: How long would it have taken to have a photo taken by a staffer with a digital point-and-shot? Five minutes?

    Is this the only thing that he anticipated needing the photo for? He was only planning on doing -one- piece of print material?

    Comment by Rabrab — January 21, 2008 @ 3:44 pm

  10. I do think that with anti-fat hysteria running so high right now, a very fat candidate would face serious difficulties based on that alone — seems like it would be the only thing you’d hear about. Look at Michael Moore. Whatever one thinks of his work and opinions (in my case, that’s not much), it’s very rare indeed to hear his name brought up without someone pointing out that he is quite fat, often followed by a joke about how much he is presumed to eat.

    But if it’s a matter of having made a somewhat fattish person look like a not-fattish person, that may not be of much consequence — just a dumb lapse of judgment. As Nemtynakht says, it’s not going to fool anyone for very long, so it doesn’t make much sense as a strategy unless the guy intends to stay off TV and keep his picture out of the paper for the rest of the campaign, and that seems unlikely.

    Comment by Bridey — January 21, 2008 @ 3:54 pm

  11. I can just imagine the headlines and CNN and Faux-News hysteria if Hillary Clinton did the same thing. You’d be able to hear it from Mars. So, does the scandal matter? Yes, because it will likely disappear into the news maelstrom in 24 hours or so. If a woman did it, we’d hear about it ad freaking nauseum for weeks.

    Comment by Jezebella — January 21, 2008 @ 4:05 pm

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