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The Therapy Sessions
Monday, April 05, 2004

Likability and the presidency

The American electorate tends to vote for the more likeable candidate. This truism generally applies, with few exceptions (the most notable being the election of the charismatically-challenged Nixon over genial McGovern and smiling Humphrey).

Look at the losers in the last 30 years: Mondale (annoying), Dole (boring), Dukakis (tweedy condescending smartass), Carter (pathetic), George Bush I (aloof), and Gore (V 1.0 was a robotic dickhead and updated V 2.0 is an equally unlikeable, anti-corporate crusader).

Kerry is struggling to make his persona more likeable, and it has proven to be an uphill fight.

Cartoonists, I think, do a pretty good job of caricaturing someone's personality. Bush has been pretty good material for cartoonists. Generally, he is portrayed as a befuddled boy-king, surrounded by folly.

Cartoonists rarely do flattering pictures of anyone. Their goal is to capture the essence of a person in a quick ink rendering. Bush's caricatures, though certainly not favorable, do not usually portray him as malevolent (unless you go to the far-left, where he is portrayed as a raving Hitler clone). Usually, he gets a treatment similar to the one Ronald Reagan got.

But here Kerry might have a problem, particulary this early in the game as he is defining himself:

This view of Kerry is why I thought that John Edwards would have made a better candidate for the Democrats.

Bush v. Kerry. Clueless affable boy-king against the miserly, patrician Europhile?

If history is a guide, Kerry has his work cut out for him.

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