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  • Is Charisma Necessary for the Presidency?

       December 31, 2006

    With the next Presidential election a mere 22 months away, Hillary Clinton's campaign is faltering. Her advisors' solution is to launch a "charisma offensive". I suppose it makes sense that partisan political advisors assume that their candidates problem is one of perception, rather than substance, but I still find it insulting. It's as if they believe Americans will vote for anyone if the package is nice enough. Call me naive, but I believe that voters do actually care (at least a little) about how a candidate stands on the issues.

    Is charisma a prerequisite to the Presidency? I say "no". Charisma is a rare quality, and few people, let alone Presidents, have it. Let's review:

    • George W. Bush: no charisma
    • Clinton: charisma
    • George H.W. Bush: prickly old fart, no charisma
    • Ronald Reagan: charisma, charisma, charisma!
    • Jimmy Carter: yeah, right
    • Gerald Ford: bumbling everyman, no charisma
    • Richard Nixon: smart & sneaky, but no charisma
    • Lyndon Johnson: sleazy partier, no charisma
    • John F. Kennedy: sleazy partier, but had charisma
    • Dwight Eisenhower: no charisma (for a WWII general who did have charisma, please see George S. Patton
    • Harry Truman: charisma - the buck stopped there

    The vast majority of Presidents, even in the television age, lacked charisma. Of course they all had other leadership qualities, but no charisma. Hillary Clinton doesn't need charisma to get elected, she doesn't even really need to be likeable (see George H.W. Bush & Richard Nixon above). She does, however, have to have a message that the American public wants to hear. When you say things like "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good", you're going to have a hard time getting votes. It doesn't matter how nicely that package is wrapped. What's inside still stinks.


    Posted by at December 31, 2006 11:57 AM

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