Thursday, January 10, 2008

Snap Judgements

Ben Shapiro's latest article is surprising even handed and insightful. In it, he discusses how we size up potential presidents.
. . . we judge our politicians by looking at their hair, their height, their age, their sense of humor, their rustic or urban feel. We judge them based on their vibe, their attitude. That first glance means everything -- and it always has.

. . . Politicians must find a winning image that fits them; they must find a winning image that is authentic. Voters can spot inauthenticity a mile away. Mike Huckabee seems authentic, comfortable in his wryly humorous backcountry skin. Mitt Romney seems slick and businesslike, which is probably why Republican voters -- even those who share his political convictions -- are less than enthusiastic about his candidacy.

Barack Obama's early success is based entirely on his image. Obama radiates authenticity -- he speaks about change and hope with the zeal of the newly converted. He's tall, young and black -- a fresh face -- and that image merges well with his high-flown rhetoric about the dawn of a new day.
I think there is a grain of truth in this. Certainly his pay off, that Hillary Clinton needs to change her image to win the presidency may be accurate. She is portrayed as cold and calculating, and she needs the American people to see her in a different light than that.

On the other hand Shapiro isn't exactly helping her here, since the underlying theme is that Clinton needs to changer her image - and what could be more cold and calculating than pretending to be more human to win a nomination/election?

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