Bernie Doesn't Look Presidential, But Who Cares

by Seth Millstein

While interviewing Bernie Sanders on her 10 Most Fascinating People special, Barbara Walters said the Vermont Democrat doesn't look like a president, and in fact that he could be "better looking." While he took mock umbrage with the whole good-looking part ("Now you're insulting me, Barbara," he joked), Sanders agreed with the idea that he doesn't look like a president. But is that true? I'd argue that Sanders has a "lovable grandpa" look going on, that this is probably at least part of his appeal as a candidate, and that as far as having a "presidential look" goes, he could do much worse than he is.

For comparison, and with all due respect, let's look — literally — at some of the other people running for president. We have Jeb Bush, the human South Park character; Rand Paul, the man with the ramen noodle hair; Ted Cruz, whose face appears to be melting off; and Donald Trump, who... well, the less said about his looks, the better.

Conversely, plenty of candidates with that "presidential look" eventually learned that being good-looking isn't enough to get you into the Oval Office. There's former vice president Dan Quayle, the "young, conservative and handsome" politician whose 2000 presidential campaign crashed and burned. There's Mitt Romney, who was seemingly designed in a laboratory to look as much like a president as humanly possible; needless to say, that didn't work. And of course, there's John Edwards who, despite looking very polished during his 2008 presidential run, eventually ran into other problems on the campaign trail.

The point is, looking "presidential" doesn't really mean that much. And as far as Sanders goes, plenty of presidents have skated into office with similar looks to his. For example...

Benjamin Harrison

Some have said that Sanders looks grumpy, but he's a veritable Pollyanna compared with the 23rd president of the United States, who was likely born with a look of displeasure on his face.

John Quincy Adams

The sixth U.S. president was yet another Grumpy Gus who nevertheless made it to the White House.

Martin Van Buren

One of America's most forgettable leaders, Martin Van Buren actually looks a bit like Bernie Sanders, if you squint a little bit.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Let's not forget Uncle Ike, whose "adorable grandpa" bona fides, much like his military credentials, are beyond question.

Chester Arthur

Another president who nobody thinks about anymore, Chester Arthur served as commander-in-chief despite having muttonchops wider than his head.

George Washington

Unkempt hair, a perpetual scowl on his face — when you think about it, Bernie Sanders could be the 21st century reincarnation of Father America himself.

Ronald Reagan

Lastly, there's the Gipper, who was kind of like the grandpa you avoided at family gatherings.