For President Trump glittering resumes and decades of experience aren't the only relevant factors when hiring officials to top positions — appearance counts.
Appearance is reportedly something that Trump's new hire as national security adviser, Robert C. O'Brien, had in his favor. A source close to the president told The New York Times Wednesday that Trump had enthused about O'Brien's well-tailored appearance and easy demeanor.
Trump has reportedly remarked that O'Brien "looks the part," and contrasted him to his predecessor in the role, John Bolton, whose bushy mustache and prickly personality did not suit Trump's vision of a White House where everyone looks like they are straight out of "central casting."
Having been a reality TV star before entering politics, Trump is famously obsessed with how his presidency plays out on TV and keenly monitors the media appearances of top advisers, sometimes watching them with the sound off.At the outset of his presidency, Trump reportedly told advisers to consider each day of his presidency as like an episode in an unfolding television show in which he "vanquishes rivals."
In the early days of his presidency, he boasted that generals he had appointed to key national security roles looked like they were from "central casting" — a key term of praise in the president's lexicon.
According to Bob Woodward's book "Fear," which looks at the internal workings of the Trump White House, the president has in the past wavered on appointing key officials because he didn't like their appearance.
In one incident, Trump remarked that another former national security adviser, HR McMaster, looked like a "beer salesman," according to the book.Appearance aside, critics have questioned whether O'Brien, who previously served as the White House's top hostage negotiator, has enough government experience for the national security adviser role.
An attorney from Los Angeles, O'Brien got the president's attention by helping negotiate the release of two US captives abroad, and in August was dispatched by the president to Sweden to negotiate the release of rapper A$AP Rocky, who was being held on assault charges.
"I think the greatest challenge he will have is his relative lack of experience inside the U.S. government, and with the interagency process, given that a gigantic part of the job is coordinating the interagency process," Richard Fontaine, the chief executive of the nonpartisan Center for a New American Security, told The Times.