Does the appearance of a politial candidate matter?

In 1960, the very first presidential debate was telecast for the American public to see. The debate, between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, marked a turning point in the political scene. In the radio interviews Nixon came out ahead, but in the television interviews Kennedy was favored; mostly because Kennedy was by far a more striking figure. He was young and full of charisma and ended up winning the White House.
Since then debates have been different. We no longer focus solely on the content and delivery of a candidate’s platform. The new millenium is no different, although now we have an added feature to this – women in the presidential arena. This week potential Republican presidential candidate, Michele Bachman, received a lot of flack for her long, fake French-tipped nails at the televised debate. Or during the last presidential run, media outlets, bloggers and the American public were fascinated with Sarah Palin’s $150,000 wardrobe, which was paid for by the Republican National Convention. The question is… why is there such a dichotomy between men and women in the political arena? I’ve yet to read a blog post or newspaper feature about the fashion attire of a male candidate or his too-expensive pair of shoes. No one focuses on the length of a man’s nails or whether they are manicured. Why does a woman’s fake manicure have anything to do with her ability to lead this country? Why is it even an issue?
The same could be said for a candidate’s weight. Chris Christie, the current New Jersey Governor and potential presidential candidate, has been in the news lately about his weight. Many think his overweight frame would sink any chance he has for the presidency. While his obesity has put him in the hospital temporarily for shortness of breath it has not impeded his ability to govern the state.
While I am all about the importance of taking care of your appearance and dressing well, it seems to me a person’s ability to do their job (in most cases) should not be based on their physical appearance, nail manicure style, makeup choices or the price of their wardrobe.


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