"We realize this snippet from the Reuters story will prompt many of our readers to consider important questions, such as: 'What the devil are they talking about, captivating good looks?'
"We mean, come on. It's Richard Gere. We're sorry, but we don't see it. We'd give him handsome, in a sort of vague and roundabout way, but he ain't what we'd call captivating."
Both Cindy Crawford and Carey Lowell would clearly disagree with that statement. As my Y chromosome categorizes both of these women as "uber-captivating," I'd defer to their judgement on masculine beauty. If both of them thought Gere was hot enough to marry, I suspect he probably is "captivating."
Now that Gere has "captivating good looks" doesn't mean he has "captivating good politics" (generally the inverse is true), but give the man his due in his one area of achievement.
Your point is well-taken, but I think I've discovered a way to jump out from the corner in which I've found myself boxed. So in the hopes of dodging the obvious flaw in my theory (that is to say, Mrs Crawford), here's my counter-argument:
It is not impossible for a person to objectively note handsomeness or beauty in another person of the same sex; hence my own observation in that regard. Indeed, sometimes this is a more reliable gauge than if someone of the opposite sex makes such a judgement, as both men and women are generally (if grudgingly) willing to note a particularly attractive person of their own gender.
Further, people of the opposite sex may discern intellectual or personal attractiveness that is not entirely obvious to someone of the same sex -- thus explaining why more attractive people are often seen with less attractive partners. Thus, one can deduce that physicality alone is not enough to explain love -- a fancy way of explaining why people can't often figure out what HE (or she) is doing with HER (or him).
Also, regarding Mrs Lowell, I did an Internet search tonight and checked out some photos of her. To my eye, she's not in the same league as Mrs Crawford. This is NOT to say that she is ugly, because she ain't. It's merely to say that in my view, she's not at that pinnacle of beauty. Just as Mr Gere cannot hope to match the likes of Mr Ford.