I can’t help but hear Team America every time! WOOT! AMERICA! I am pooping stars and hurling up stripes! I have to hand it to all the modern American presidents out there; they know how to get the patriot heart pumping!
These two shots are what our modern president has to do, thanks to the 24-hour news cycle. In fact, to be a successful president, a president has to have the discipline to pursuit an illusion (image management) “Presidential government is an illusion” as Heclo and Salamon told in their book.
However, let us slow down. What is an image? As Jeremy D. Mayer explained,
“It is both truth and lie, both accurate perception and the gap between reality and perception. Image is built up day-by-day, slowly accreting sediment at the bottom of the lake of public opinion”
A positive image is what builds a president support– policies and all (not the policies themselves at times).
Image is important. You will never get the high office if you neglect it, even appearance is important. The last overweight president was William Howard Taft (he even got stuck in the White House bathtub). The last bald president was President Eisenhower.
Take a look at the last nominees to run for the presidency during 2000-2008. Mitt is a hunk! Huntsman is a peppered hair sexy beast! Both parties nominated a presidential candidate that once in the general election, looked good– not one of them was overweight.
[Flashback: Reagan (precious) Bush I (good-looking older man) Clinton (need I say anything more?) Bush II (sexy) and Obama (sharp). If we go back in time, our gorgeous scale sits at zero. Johnson could have been the father of Gollum. Nixon was ugly. Ford and Carter are not going on any runways– ever.]
Bush II was amazing at image management. Political Scientist Jeremy Mayer says that two components stand out: “the message discipline of the White House, and the quality of the set design that served as the backdrop for the president”
President Bush’s team had an amazing attention to detail. The backdrop piece is case and point. For example, “At some events, wealthy Republican supporters in the shot behind the president were instructed by the advance team to remove their ties, so that an image of normal Americans supporting Bush would be conveyed.”
Dan Bartlett, President Bush’s communication director put it this way:
“Americans are leading busy lives, and sometimes they don’t have the opportunity to read a story or listen to an entire broadcast. But if they can have an instant understanding of what the president is talking about by seeing 60 seconds of television, you accomplish your goals as communicators.”
Keep in mind this has to happen in all modern presidents. It’s now the nature of things.
All tragic events are now instantly document– this way you–the American people, know what your president is doing and that he is marine ready to take on challenges. For example, President Bush’s September 11th and President Obama’s Sandy Hook shooting briefings have been posted online and in the papers.
For me, there is something wrong with this image management. As historical artifacts there is some good, I think. Hundreds of years from now, students and future Americans will be able to get a feel for the time. However, is image management getting in the way of good politics and governing? Not sure, but it seems like a heavy and burdensome task to constantly mange.
Does this prevent otherwise great presidential candidates from being president because they are socially awkward or unattractive? Yes, and that isn’t right.
Although, it could be worse. (See Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin)