“It’s hard to look at Ted Cruz’s face,” says Dr. Cytowic.
Communication is an endless paradigm. There are of course actual words, things that even 1-year-olds pick up on and can generally navigate with ease — but then there are the unspoken cues, interactions between people that happen without forethought. A smile, a shoulder movement, fidgeting: any of these are directly related to an inner emotion begging to come forward. They’re thoughtless efforts.
Sometimes, though, ugly people have issues with basic communication skills, because no matter what they do, others just can’t trust them.
Blame their face. That’s what Dr. Richard E. Cytowic, a professor of neurology at George Washington University does while explaining his uneasiness with Ted Cruz.
“It’s hard to look at Ted Cruz’s face,” says Cytowic in an article penned for Psychology Today. “He’s said to be a brilliant orator with a sharp legal mind. But his expression unsettles me. The Senator’s atypical expressions leave me uneasy.”
He points out that he’s not alone in this, either. Many of Cruz’s peers have spoken about their distaste in him for simply existing as a human being.
“It's remarkable how many colleagues and former associates say that they ‘loathe’ Cruz,” he continues.
“A Bush alumnus told The New York Times' Frank Bruni, ‘Why do people take such an instant dislike to Ted Cruz? It just saves time.’
“Former Senate Majority leader Bob Dole says, ‘Nobody likes him,’ while Rep. Peter King sees ‘malice’ behind his visage.”
His former Princeton roommate has even found a slight uptick in his online celebrity by Tweeting things about Cruz’s earlier life, like calling him a “huge asshole” or “creepy” — garnering emails from fans asking why he never smothered “Ted Cruz in his sleep in 1988.”
The dude’s disliked for a variety of reasons, but being a neurologist, Dr. Cytowic sought to explain the strange impressionable phenomenon with science. He begins by explaining Cruz’s smile isn’t a “conventional” smile at all, the corners of his mouth never easing upwards. Regardless of what Cruz is attempting to project, his smile always “tightens into the same straight line.”
No matter his emotions, Cruz always looks like he’s frowning — a powerful emotional cue.
“Downturned expressions usually signal disagreeableness or disgust,” says Dr. Cytowic. “But I honestly don’t know because such an expression is rare in the context of public presentations meant to win people over. Cruz may well be unaware that the message of his body language is incongruent with his words.”
So is a perpetual Debbie Downer someone the American people want in the White House? It’s a hard job that takes a strong personality to conquer effectively, but if a guy can’t even get his own face to crack a smile … maybe the job just ain’t for him. Given the successes of mildly attractive people like Reagan (in his prime), JFK, Bill Clinton and Obama — people who know how to smile and do it well — the biggest seat in the house might very well be out of Cruz's reach for something as innocuous as a smile — and maybe that whole being an "asshole" thing, too. Can't win 'em all.