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hamlet: To Grin or Not To Grin?



     Les Robinson is a happy scholar, full of laughter. If he had gone into politics, I would have voted for him for his great qualities, the masses for his smile; he would have gone a long way. I excerpt from a recent message:
     "As for Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Bush, surely you are not suggesting that they were hurt politically by their "not grinning enough"? Their political liabilities were more fundamental than that! Nixon was stiff and aloof, but that wasn't the main reason he was distrusted by many. Personally, I have nothing against politicians smiling, so long as their smiles aren't patently fake (plastered on). l like smiling faces. When I was in the army, buddies who knew I was from Oklahoma wondered whether I was Indian and started calling me "Laughing Water." This later degenerated, at my suggestion, into "Grinning Drip!"
     My comment: I was serious. While in the four cases there were other factors, looking around the country one sees many politicians whose main asset is a friendly grin. It may be a real asset. It is a phenomenon which began after Hoover. Other countries, including those of Latin America, are still in the pre-grin stage, although the British enjoy a more subtle humor (cf Churchill). An anthropology theory says laughter originated as a message meaning that there was no danger. The world's dangerous characters--Hitler, Stalin, Mao--did not laugh. Perhaps if Latin Americans had enjoyed laughter a little more, they would have started fewer revolutions. Gilbert and Sullivan are the expression of Anglo-American peaceful democracy.This is a very serious question of political psychology.

Ronald Hilton - 02/07/99


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