Saturday, July 5, 2008

Presidential Plastic: Can The Elder McCain Hope To Beat Youthful Barack Obama Without Plastic Surgery?

Can A Twenty-Five Year Age Difference And An Older Appearance Aid Barack Obama In Defeating McCain?
Since the televised debates (the first televised presidential debates ever) between Kennedy and Nixon in the fall of 1960, Americans have made it evident that the president's personal appearance is a major factor when they consider for whom they cast their ballots. Throughout those historic debates, JFK projected a calm and confident exterior, while Nixon looked tired and unprepared, many Americans thought it looked as if the uncomfortable Nixon was lying. Next to the youthful and exuberant Kennedy (to whom Barack is often compared), Nixon looked rather, well... old.

The Nixon/Kennedy conundrum is not the only example of the public preference for youthful, strong-looking candidates. FDR often tried to hide his polio-withered legs by developing extreme upper body strength and holding himself up when addressing the public. There are still legends of Ronald Reagen dying his hair and political historians have often observed that Americans rarely choose to elect bald candidates.

At seventy-one years old, one wonders how McCain will fair in the court of public opinion (and its apparent ageism) against the forty-six year-old Barack Obama. The numbers aren't the only problem for McCain, even if we only consider the superficial differences of appearance and age. Namely, McCain has had fairly recent medical issues (skin cancer, to be exact) which may present a further PR problem when facing the healthy and outgoing Obama. Perhaps it is a result of his POW experience, or his political service, but the years have not been as kind to McCain's appearance as they have been to others. Judging only from the previously stated public prejudice against older and older-looking candidates, he may have a long and difficult battle ahead.

Still, the voters' interest in youth seems to be only skin-deep, as they seem to be able to overlook any actually flaws if the candidate appears young and healthy. Perhaps plastic surgery might be a good option of John McCain.

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