Nyhan: Politicians' So-Called Authenticity Is Just Performance Skill

Dartmouth political science professor Brendan Nyhan writing in the NY Times Upshot column suggests that media hubbub about politicans' "authenticity" has the issue backwards.

"In reality, all politicians are strategic about the image and behaviors they present to voters," Nyhan writes. "Some just hide the artifice better than others."

Citing a series of articles on politicians' self-presentation, Nyhan observes that:

... few people appear comfortable under bright lights during highly staged events; most of us would act just as awkwardly or unnaturally as Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Romney sometimes do. That behavior is likely to be a reflection of their performance skills, not a lack of authenticity.

Conversely, we shouldn’t assume that politicians who appear to be sincere are actually more genuine or revealing of their true selves. Like the stars you see telling scripted anecdotes on talk shows, they’re often just skilled at performing their public role.

Read the full article in the NY Times.