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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

The Curse of Beauty

I have a confession to make.

I once called a judge attractive.

Or maybe stunning.

I don't remember exactly what words I used, but it was something along those lines.

I did this because, well, that was the first thing I noticed about her when I walked into her courtroom. This was back in my news reporting days quite a while ago and I'd been assigned to write a profile of this judge.

That description was one of the first things I put in my story because I thought that, well, I am writing a description of this person. Shouldn't I describe her? Wouldn't lawyers walking into her courtroom notice this too? Might this have an impact on which lawyers were sent into that courtroom and how they might want to act in front of her?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I never got to find out, because to my perhaps naive astonishment at the time, the description was edited out of my story. The publication was not interested in letting anyone know what the subject of my profile looked like.

OK, not a big deal. I didn't care that much.

You know what I'm going to talk about next. President Obama last week had the audacity to call California's Attorney General Kamala Harris "by far, the best-looking attorney general." This was shortly after he described her as brilliant, dedicated and tough.

Oh, the humiliation!

Imagine how terrible Ms. Harris must have felt after being called good-looking. Imagine her surprise and horror at being described this way.

This was followed by an onslaught of media coverage citing "critics" of what the president said - though most of the news stories did not name any of those critics.

The Los Angeles Times did mention two - one of them one of its own columnists.

So the president (or maybe his advisers) had to apologize to Ms. Harris for going one compliment too far.

Should he have apologized?


The president should have apologized to all the other attorneys general in the United States. After all, he publicly announced that all of them were less attractive than California's attorney general.

By far!

This has got to be an ugly bunch of people.

This is the president of the United States making this pronouncement. He - or his advisers - must have carefully studied the attractiveness of the U. S. attorneys general before making that official statement.

Or did he?

Fortunately, we have this Internet thing to answer these questions. I began to look randomly for photos of current state attorneys general. The first one I tried without knowing who it was - and I'm not making this up - was Florida.

Umm ...

I'm definitely not going to say anything. Look at the picture yourself.

Then I randomly tried Nevada .

I was beginning to feel queasy, so I called in my wife to contribute expertise and we started to look at attorneys general throughout the country.

OK, there are a lot of, um, less than handsome ones, but the wife identified two major contenders: South Dakota and Missouri .

Then we found Beau Biden of Delaware.

"Obviously," said the wife. "Come on."

I think the vice president of the United States may be having some words with the president.

And there may be an attorneys general beauty pageant in our future.

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