When Kerry’s eyes are smiling

Is he more cheerful this week, or are the photo editors finally giving him a break after months of showing him as the Senator of the Doleful Countenance?

Have you noticed that most of the news photos of John Kerry this week show him smiling or laughing? I, for one, was always rather partial to Lurch the Butler, but Kerry’s rather lugubrious mien seemed to be a problem for him among the voters. So this week’s photos are almost certainly better for him than the previous photos were.

That raises a question. Has Kerry been told to smile more this week — or is he perhaps actually more cheerful this week — or have the photo editors just decided to cut him some slack for once?

By the same token, over the past several months it has seemed to me that Mr. Bush has been getting much less reverential treatment from the photo editors than was true for most of his term. Since most people take in more from pictures than from words, the power to select photographs may be more important than the power to edit the text of news stories. It’s also a much easier power to abuse without getting caught.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com