Would we elect a 5'2", 100-lb. president today?

alisandeOctober 4, 2012

Vicki_lv shared this interesting link about the sculptures of US presidents in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Presidential Walk

For starters, I didn't realize George Washington was 6'2". I thought he was shorter, for some reason. Nor was I aware that James Madison, who played such a major role in constructing our Constitution, was only 5'2" tall and weighed 100 lbs. It's not surprising that he didn't have a strong speaking voice.

Do you think today's voters would elect someone with those physical characteristics?

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Historians have thought about this and we spoke of it in classes at University. They say the Presidential race turned into a "modeling contest" pretty much began with televised debates. If you look at the differnces between Kennedy and Nixon, you're likely to agree. Further, people like Abraham Lincoln wouldn't have been elected. He was said to have a high squeaky voice when he spoke. He probably was thought to look odd to, as he had "gangly hands and feet", thought to be a suffered of Marfans Syndrome. Or FDR, for having been wheelchair bound. And according to the below article, JFK would never have won if we hadn't seen/heard him as widely as we did.

Yes, I agree with those historians. I think the fickle public does depend a great deal on a great orator who "looks the part. But that's just me.

Here is a link that might be useful: an article from Time about it

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 11:36AM
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"Good things come in small packages".


o j

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 12:50PM
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I'm sure you're right, Rob. The two current presidential candidates are very good looking. In fact, I can't think of a truly homely president in my lifetime. They have to be able to deliver a speech too. And unfortunately they don't have to write it themselves (as they did in Lincoln's day).

It's rather sad, when you think about it.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 1:03PM
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FlamingO in AR

Probably not unless it was a woman. :)

We are a very visual and well-informed populace now, with instant information- not like the old days with the occasional letter in the mail or newspaper or radio show.

It is kind of a shame in some respects, but it's also a very good thing, that you can get help so quickly, as compared to the old days.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 1:26PM
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I think appearances matter a great deal. Thinking back I would say all candidates in my lifetime were attractive in some way except maybe LBJ. Both candidates this year are handsome, slim and tall. Height is important, I think . In the last years I can't think of a short guy except maybe Dukakis. I think Christie's weight would be a huge problem for him. , no pun intended.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 1:42PM
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Toni S

I would vote for the person who represents the ideas closest to what I see as ideal. They could weigh whatever as long as they could walk daily on their own for the next 4 to 8 years with out running out of breath. I think it's so dumb to get caught up outward appearence. Well groomed( trimmed hair, clean), standing(good posture) and walking on their own or propelling their own wheelchair, able to speak and perform in front of an audiance would be my top requirments.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 2:00PM
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Sally Brownlee

Or how about James Buchanan?
He was never married.
His niece was considered the "First Lady".
Would we elect an unmarried president?

How about if they were in a wheelchair?

It's a shame that actual qualifications mean so little.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 2:50PM
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I personally don't find either of our current choices the least bit attractive. Perhaps Romney over Obama if I had to chose one. IMO Romney's wife is better looking by far than the current. But that's besides the point. I'm not voting on who I think is the most attractive or who buys $1000.00 suits. I'll be voting for the person that best reflects my point of view and the issues that matter to me. Just because somebody may be more physically attractive doesn't make them more attractive on the inside. I was taught that in kindergarten. I think it's sad these days that so many people judge based on looks (hair, weight, height, designer clothes) alone. It just shows how shallow and insecure we can be.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 4:00PM
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When I asked if we would elect a 5'2" president, I wasn't referring to anyone here at the KT. I meant we as a country.

Usually personality factors into attractiveness. Using that theory, STC, since you don't find either candidate the least bit attractive I have to assume you don't like either of them. :-)

In any case, it's all completely subjective. To me, Michelle trumps Ann.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 4:22PM
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FDR was in a wheelchair. You would be in the minority to say neither of the candidates is attractive. They both are, and Michelle Obama is a lovely woman.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 4:25PM
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I think if you are not physically attractive it would be much more difficult to be elected today. Sad, sad, sad. How many potentially great leaders will be discounted. As far as Michelle trumping Ann, no way!. They are equally attractive and bright.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 5:20PM
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We all have different opinions on what we find attractive. My opinion is MY opinion because it's what I find attractive. I didn't discount anybody's else's opinion. Personality does factor into attractiveness for sure! I dated this gorgeous Greek male model in high school who turned out to have the ugliest personality. By the time I broke up with him, he was ugly all around in my eyes. I based my answer on physical characteristics versus personality though. :)

Lily - I just might be the minority. Romney is just about my Mom's age so she might find him attractive. Obama is almost 20 years older than me, too so that's one fact plays into me not finding him attractive. They'd have to be more Blake Shelton age and type for me to find them attractive. Make sense? I'm not dissing them - they just wouldn't be my type.

Alisande - you assume correctly. LOL Without turning this into a political debate, I don't care for either AND it has nothing to do with what they look like. :-)

Georgysmom - I never said they weren't bright. :-)

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 5:52PM
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ewww to Blake Shelton's looks . Everyone is different.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 5:58PM
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We need a much shorter process. We no longer depend on the Pony Express to learn about candidates. (Oooh, big layoffs in the advertising field! LOL)

This prolonged 'please the masses campaigning' has cheapened all our elective offices. They are SOLD! to the highest bidder -- whoever runs the most vapid or mud-slinging ads.

None but independently wealthy and/or heavily dependent candidates can afford to run. None can honestly say what they would do; they'd never win the votes necessary to get in office TO do anything.

Americans are fickle and have short memories. We want instant solutions to impossibly complicated problems, which we entrust to Pretty Boys (and actors). We forget how our system of government HAS to work, with cooperation between the branches. (Sadly lacking amidst all this pandering to GET and STAY FOREVER in Washington.)

How long do YOU think campaigns should go on? Three months? Aren't there restrictions in other countries?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 6:20PM
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Current thinking by a few researchers say we'd lilely elect the tall over the short knowing nothing more about the canidates. For the short one to be chosen these days, he has to have attributes that exceed his opponent by a comfortable margin to be chosen. This is based on who gets to be the leader(s) in companies when all else is equal except height.

However, in politics, nothing is fair (my opinion). A lot of stuff that happens does not make sense from a purely logical viewpoint. Other factors come into play,

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 1:35AM
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I won't go into who's better looking. Don't really care! And I agree that the voting public is very visually-oriented and visually-conscious, but I have to disagree with the voting public being well-informed. When I see the people relying on email, Twits, Facebook and texting to form their voting decisions, I shudder. Maybe we should go back to having only electors. I always encourage people to vote, but I should specify that they should be informed when they vote and from at least a variety of sources and hopefully some credible ones, not just one "news" channel, emails or something they heard or read in a book somewhere.

It comes up most every election about the number of times the taller candidate is elected. Looks mean a lot. They concentrate hard on the looks especially for the debates. Special height podiums for the individual candidate, and if I see another "power tie" I'm going to blow chunks!

I think it's sad to see them parade out their families and use them as a campaign tool. Gallagher had a great line about that.

To be honest, I think a 5' tall woman could have trouble being elected. Voters look for taller women too. Height is a big thing in this country. For men and women alike. The "regal stature" applies to both men and women politically.

Among the campaigns I've worked, I ran the campaign of a 5' tall woman. It was far easier to garner support when people didn't see (or know) how short she was. Qualifications and competence were on paper, but people still judged. And this was at the local level. That really surprised me. I knew being female would be a challenge, especially for the office sought but I didn't realize height was such a big factor.

Looks are subjective of course but there's certain expectations that many people have. And people are hypocritical no doubt. And it's not just in politics. Fat and old are rare in broadcasting in major markets and major networks. Check out salespeople. Looks are a big factor in hiring decisions whether admitted or not.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 4:32AM
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I agree with Cynic 100%. Our whole system of choosing a candidate is shameful, to say the least. It's hard to be non-biased when you really back one candidate or party, but (and I had to do this) ask yourself exactly why you believe the person would be better for the job.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 11:54AM
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I believe when FDR ran for election it was hidden from the public that he was unable to walk..I don't know if some people ever knew about it. They thought he would be unelectable at that time if people knew. When he stood for his inauguration I believe a man on each side basically hauled him up so no one would know he could not stand by himself.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 3:19PM
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I'm just glad I read the thread so I could learn a new word: Vapid.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 3:24PM
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The Sept. 24 issue of The New Yorker magazine has cartoons and articles about elections. A story entitled 'The Lie Factory' focuses on how public opinion began to be professionally influenced on a large scale by two people with newspaper backgrounds who founded Campaigns, Inc. in the early 1930's in California.

Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter were a husband and wife team who were hired first by monopolies like Standard Oil and DuPont to erase their 'greedy' images and promote their agendas. They later made millions working on electoral campaigns. They also ran an advertising agency and a features syndicate -- great for planting stories to promote their employers and smear the competition.

They worked against government health insurance proposed by Earl Warren in California and by Harry Truman as President. The AMA hired them to defeat these plans -- which eventually boomeranged when many MD's left the organization in protest.

The Campaigns, Inc. 'playbook' is still in use today. One of the tenets is that voters are lazy. They don't want to be reasoned with because that's too much effort. They want to hear stories, have their emotions aroused (for or against an idea or person).

As usual with New Yorker stories, this is a good read. (And the comics are *really funny*!)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 5:56PM
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ShedTheChrysalis....I wasn't responding to you. I was responding to Alisande. She was speaking of attractiveness and then said Michelle trumps Ann. I simply don't agree. JMO

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 10:29PM
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Of course, 5'2" for a man back then might not have seemed all that short. I bet the average height for a man was somewhere around 5'5" to 5'6". Current generations are the tallest ever in our nation because we are better fed than previous generations and are the offspring of a well fed generation. Well fed meaning not only enough calories per day but a variety of food to provide a wide range of proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 1:49AM
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When you said five-two, 100 lbs I thought you meant a woman! Yes I'm ready!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 9:09AM
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