All Smile, No Cattle: Politico’s Eye-Rolling Take on Gavin Newsom vs. Ron DeSantis

Thursday night was the red-state, blue-state debate between California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Highlights included DeSantis thumping Newsom with the story about Newsom’s father-in-law moving to Florida and telling DeSantis that Florida was better governed. DeSantis also skewered Newsom on things like education and pointing out the poop problem in San Francisco. 

I think we could all anticipate that we’d get some interesting takes from the liberal media on the debate.

But the Politico take on Gavin Newsom’s smile was something else, guaranteed to make your eyes roll. Radio host Grace Curley picked up on it. 

Newsom’s pearly whites were the perfect contrast. Throughout the night, when DeSantis went on the attack, Newsom blunted his blows with that charming smile. He has a broad, genuine smile — a true Duchenne smile, which involves the zygomaticus major muscle pulling toward the orbicularis oculi. That smile is perceived as more genuine, authentic and therefore trustworthy at a subconscious level.

That was pretty hilarious. Newsom, the guy known for his hair gel and his used-car salesman smile, has a genuine smile? 

This description came from a body language reader who, in contrast, dinged DeSantis’ smile. 

He seems incapable of what is called a Duchenne smile, where the corners of the mouth, or commissures, pull toward the eyes, creating crows’ feet. The visual has primacy over the vocal when it comes to trustworthiness, and DeSantis’ stiff smile undermines his authenticity.

The body language expert, Joe Navarro, also said Newsom “faced his foe directly” and DeSantis “wrung his hands.”

It looks like some media are trying to make DeSantis’ smile a talking point.’

No bias here in any of these media takes, right? By the way, DeSantis’ smile in that picture above looks far more authentic than anything Newsom was sporting Thursday night. 

Maybe it’s not a good thing when the guy on the other side has a snake oil salesman smile going for him and not a lot else. Maybe media wants to talk about smiles because they can’t talk about the policies and how wrong Newsom and the Democrats’ policies are, as the debate showed. When it came to substance, DeSantis cleaned Newsom’s clock all day long, and it wasn’t close. 

I’d be curious to see an independent scientific poll on the debate to see who got taken in by the slippery smile.

When Newsom is smiling as San Francisco is covered in poop, and they only briefly cleaned up for the visit of Communist dictator Xi Jinping, that smile says something about how twisted he is. It tells you how much the Democrats don’t care about keeping things in order for their residents. 

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