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Just going on his pictures, he doesn’t have the presidential presence. I don’t know if this is a deal breaker, but it can’t help him.
My knowledge of Cotton isn’t deep enough to meaningfully comment on that observation, but I think there’s something to that notion of the “presidential presence.” It’s similar (though distinct) to what is referred to in the military or law enforcement as a “command presence” — that certain je ne sais quoi that causes you to accept the idea of someone as a leader (and likely causes them to abjure phrases like je ne sais quoi).
This is one of the reasons that, talented as he is, I have a hard time with the idea of Bobby Jindal as a viable presidential candidate. When I talk to people who identify as Republicans but aren’t immersed in politics the way those of us here are, I always hear the same comment: “I just can’t picture him as president.” And you can sort of see their point: the slight build, the floppy hair, the voice that earned him comparisons to Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock. It doesn’t really fit the template. I’m sure some lefty blogger will take this as a dog whistle for the fact that Republicans won’t vote for an Indian-American, but does anyone really think we’d be having this conversation if Jindal looked like Shahrukh Khan?
It may all be completely unfair. In fact, it probably is. But like it or not, we have seem to have a presidential archetype floating around in our collective unconscious.
Of course, conformity to that schema is no guarantee of success. On our side, the two most recent examples of candidates dubbed suitably “presidential” were Mitt Romney and Rick Perry (apparently, a lot of us think “presidential” translates roughly to “ready to appear in a menswear catalog”). So this bearing may be necessary, but it’s not sufficient.
What do you think are traits that are a necessary part of the “presidential presence”? What would your ideal candidate be like in terms of temperament, personality, and appearance? And how do you think our crop of potential 2016 candidates does according to those standards?
Image of silhouetted president via ShutterStockPublished in