Back in his US Open winning days tennis great Andre' Agassi convinced many of us that:
"Image is everything!"
I thought of that sound bite when I read this Julie Bogart comment about Ron Paul over at Dave's post on Electile Dysfunction:
"Not a shred of presidential-ity in his demeanor either."
I think Julie has surfaced the most important quality.. that one we all are looking for in our next president.. presidential-ity.. that persona that makes us want someone to be our leader.. causes us to think that they would be a good president. Ever since JFK we have been running after the person that has presidential-ity. Televised debates are all about a candidates ability to demonstrate their presidential-ity.. to look good in real time and in front of the camera.. to make us believe that they are presidential.

Not all presidents had this persona though.. they just had a tad more of it than their opponents. I think that when candidates like Nixon, Carter, Bush and Bush won it was really more about their opponents lack of presidential-ity than their own.. I mean, really, have you all forgotten the likes of Humphrey, Ford, Mondale, Dukakis and Gore.. a virtual definition on non-presidential-ity.. even Carter's presidential-ity was only good against Ford.. he was no match for Reagan.. now Reagan and Clinton.. these are each in a class of their own.. when it comes to presidential-ity anyway.. they both had more presidential-ity than JFK.. but maybe not RFK?

So, based on presidential-ity, I think that the following have the best shot next year: Obama, Edwards, Romney and Thompson.. really Hillary and Rudy have little presidential-ity.. but what do I know.. Kerry ran the last time.. sadly voters chose him over Edwards who probably could have beat Bush if he ran.. he certainly had the most presidential-ity of the four men on the ballot in 2004. So, what do you think? Who do you think has the most presidential-ity?


  1. This is a fascinating question, Bob. What you're alluding to is a kind of "star quality" that makes a man (up until this point) seem like the right guy for the job. Especially in this media-driven age. Our culture is so "brand-oriented" which is what I think gave Bush instant legitimacy in the political marketplace. Name recognition. And that's a lot of what's worked so far for not only Hillary but also Obama, Edwards, Giuliani and Thompson. Even Romney, whose dad was a former governor of Michigan, has significantly more support right off the bat here in MI than many of his competitors.

    Broadly speaking then, it seems likely that a successful candidate has to fit into the "tradition" of American presidents. The current efforts by Democratic candidates to break the mold (with a woman, a black man, or a Hispanic nominee) are clearly testing the limits to see if "now is the time" to expand the definition of who can really be an American President. It's risky in many respects, but at the same time, given Bush's historic unpopularity, it may just be the best opportunity to do something new and different.

    I think Romney would be close to a shoo-in if he were a mainstream Christian. Giuliani wouldn't have a chance if there weren't a proven track record of milking 9/11 patriotism, tough talk and fear of terrorists into a winning campaign formula. Edwards and Thompson represent the best chance for "The South" to claim one of their own to succeed Clinton and Bush 43. But the prospects seem more likely for an all-NY race, giving the northern USA a pretty strong voice in determining future policy. Let's not underestimate the regional tensions that still exist in this country too!

  2. This is an interesting topic, if I say so myself! :)

    I think Hilary has it, actually. She is female so it looks different. But she has that "I can stare down the cameras" look in her eye and carries herself with that Thatcher-esque toughness that is required for a woman seeking office.

    But I don't think Thompson or Paul have it. They are so odd.

    Nixon - how the heck did that guy ever get elected? To me, he was just the "safer" option over McGovern (who was more hippie than president).

    Romeny would be a good bet if he were an evangelical. I agree with Dave.

    Giuliani may not appear presidential, but he has star power. That's what he brings to the table. He's like Schwarzenegger. Strangely interesting.

    Being slick isn't "it" -it's the ability to compel people to listen and to look like you can command a space.

    What do you think?

  3. Julie/Dave.. Good points about Giuliani and star-power but I don't quite equate star-power and presidential-ity.. although I did say image is everything in the post :)

    I think that presidential-ity is more about believability.. do people believe a candidate can be a "good" president. For many of us, Bush had us believing that he would be a good compassionate and moral type of a president.. we underestimated the impact that Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld would have on him and his presidency.

    Maybe Rudy can pull it off.. but I look at him as another Howard Dean.. he won't make it past February.. but it could just be wishful thinking.

    Now about Hillary.. I agree.. though I didn't think about it.. that being presidential would look different for her than one of the guys.. it will be interesting to see how presidential she is in Iowa and New Hampshire if she doesn't win there.

    I think that Thompson is smoother than any of us think he is.. especially with his southern base.. and those who like his kind of matter-of-fact-type-of-speaking.. it does remain to be seen how broad his appeal can be.

    I think Romney has the potential to win the evangelicals over.. they just need to drop that "Mormonism is a cult" thinking and look at his values and what he is saying.

    Five months ago I opined about my criteria for presidential-ity.. just looked it over and think that it still hold water for me.. and helps me to narrow the field a bit.

    That said, I have to say that reading your thoughts, here and at your places, is so helpful.. you see things that I don't. Look forward to reading your thoughts on the candidates in the days to come.

    Thx, Bob

    PS Julie: You got a BTB designation.

  4. After seeing the illustration that goes with this post, I'll never look at Florida the same way again...

  5. Thanks for bringing some focus to Florida Casey.. he says after he edits his post..


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