Speed Reads

Eye of the beholder

Donald Trump apparently puts looks above résumé in choosing his Cabinet

When Donald Trump introduced his running mate, Mike Pence, in July, he explained that Pence's record as governor of Indiana was "the primary reason I wanted Mike — other than that he looks very good." He was apparently serious. If Trump's parading of potential Cabinet picks in front of the cameras at the Trump Tower elevator banks "has the feel of a casting call," say Philip Rucker and Karen Tumulty at The Washington Post, that's probably not a coincidence: Trump wants the visible members of his government to look the part.

"That's the language he speaks. He's very aesthetic," one person "familiar with the transition team's internal deliberations" told The Washington Post. "You can come with somebody who is very much qualified for the job, but if they don't look the part, they're not going anywhere." Trump advisers spoke on the record, too. "Don't forget, he's a showbiz guy," said Newsmax Media CEO Chris Ruddy, a longtime Trump friend. Trump, he explained, wants people "who present themselves very well," especially on TV.

Mitt Romney was a finalist for secretary of state, despite his stinging criticism of Trump, because he has a "central casting" quality for secretary of state, like Trump's actual pick, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, according to several Trump associates, who tell The Post that Trump uses that phrase frequently in private deliberations. And looks cut both ways, The Post notes:

Trump's closest aides have come to accept that he is likely to rule out candidates if they are not attractive or not do not match his image of the type of person who should hold a certain job.... Several of Trump's associates said they thought that John R. Bolton's brush-like mustache was one of the factors that handicapped the bombastic former United Nations ambassador in the sweepstakes for secretary of state. "Donald was not going to like that mustache," said one associate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly. "I can't think of anyone that's really close to Donald that has a beard that he likes." [The Washington Post]

"Given Trump's own background as a master brander and showman who ran beauty pageants as a sideline, it was probably inevitable that he would be looking beyond their résumés for a certain aesthetic in his supporting players," Rucker and Tumlty write. Read the rest of their look at Trump's "central casting" government at The Washington Post.