The Real Lowest Common Denominator…

I just got finished watching the Democratic candidates for their party’s nomination in the 2004 US Presidential contest “debate” each other on CSPAN. As I watched this trained monkey show I came to a conclusion, and that conclusion is that someone needs to take the low road in sizing these folks up… 

And I’m just the guy to do it.

So, in that spirit, I’m not going to talk about their policy positions, their voting records or their so-called viability as candidates. Nope. This is all about being as shallow as I’m capable of. We’re talking hair, clothing, mannerisms, … Basically all kinds of things that shouldn’t really matter in a President or a Presidential Candidate, but that we all know matter a whole lot. So here goes…

I’ll start with the bottom feeders who the media, the opposition and, in fact, the Democratic Party themselves have given up as lost causes and work up to the top of the pack.

Dennis Kucinich – 

What the fuck is up with those ears? What on earth is going on with that nose? This man looks like an escapee from the Island of Lost Toys. It’s like Tim the elf didn’t become a dentist after all. He became a Congressman. And man does he need to buy a suit that fits him. Whenever he brings his hands together (and he does this a lot – probably because someone at some point coached him that this is somehow symbolic of bringing factions together, consensus and all that bullshit) the shoulders of his suit stick out past where his actual shoulders are. Dennis. Dude. Buddy, we know you’re a little puny guy with no shoulders. The big suit isn’t fooling anyone. You look like you borrowed your jacket from Alexis Carrington. If you’re gonna wear a big suit, borrow one of David Byrne’s cast-offs. Actually, that’s a great idea. And every time you come out on stage have them play “Once In A Lifetime” and do that funny dance Byrne did in the video. Then, when Dean or Kerry or anyone else says anything that’s too establishment for you, smack yourself on the forehead and say “same as it ever was, same as it ever was, SAME AS IT EVER WAS.”

Al Sharpton – 

I dig Al. Al’s my man. Al’s got as much chance of winning his party’s nomination as I do of running a two minute mile. That having been said, Al looks good. This is a man who knows how to dress himself. He was the only one not wearing the de rigeur politician’s suit. That black three button suit and red tie just looked damned sharp. 

Granted Al gets a lot of shit for his hair. No one understands exactly what he’s trying to accomplish here. I’m white and my hair hasn’t been that straight since my ill-fated experiment with straightening chemicals when I was 15 and wanted (god knows why) to look like Jeff Beck. I didn’t. I looked like a drowned puppy. But face it, Al looks good. You wish you looked that good. Honestly, I want him to be President just because in my imagination when he sits down to negotiate with some other world leader that nameless other potentate takes one look at Al and says to him/herself “damn, I will never look that good and I therefore bow to the will of this fine looking man.”

It also helps that Sharpton has a genuine sense of humor. This is a man with a razor sharp wit. He made Ted Koppel look like a twit at the end of the debate with his comment about how even though Ted’s ratings are a lot worse than SNL, he still showed up.

Carol Mosely Braun – 

I so want to like this woman. I agree that it’s time to take the “Men Only” sign off the White House (and every other part of government in this country). She’d be a decent President. But, woman, those suits are just sad. 

Why do professional women insist on dressing so remarkably stupidly? What is with the rehashed Chanel (sic?) suits from the 60s. Yes, Jackie O looked fabulous in those outfits… IN 1963!!!! Wake up ladies. It’s 2003. 

And that hair. Carol, I find it very difficult to believe that a buzz cut is really something you need to do. You don’t need to neuter yourself to be a successful politician. As my wife says, women who emulate men to succeed aren’t really achieving much in the way of leveling the playing field for women in business, politics or anywhere else.

Carol, two words for you – Oprah Winfrey. Give Oprah a call. See if you can come by and borrow some clothes, and maybe spend some quality time with her stylists. Whatever you want to say about Oprah, the woman looks fine and powerful. No one fucks with Oprah and lives to tell of it. 

Dick Gephardt – 

Will someone please tell me what happened to this man’s eyebrows? I know he’s fair skinned and fair haired. But no eyebrows at all? Who, apart from singers in David Bowie cover bands who focus on the Ziggy period, has no eyebrows? While it’s very entertaining to imagine old Dick prancing around in front of a band in some Missouri dive bar doing Gene Genie in a spandex outfit I’m fairly certain that’s not actually occurring or likely to occur in my lifetime.

Maybe he does a lot of welding without a mask and just keeps burning them off. Maybe he’s an obsessive compulsive who flagellates himself by relentlessly plucking his eyebrows out. Maybe he burns them off smoking his crack pipe? I really don’t know. I do know that it bothers me. What happens when he sweats? I don’t want a President who gets blinded by his own sweat everytime the shit hits the fan on the world stage.

Joe Lieberman – 

I’ll qualify the rest of this by saying that I really, really, really dislike Joe Lieberman. I think that of the pack of contenders that he’s the worst. I’d *gasp* sooner vote for Dubya than him. Maybe I’ll go into that in another post. Must remember, this is about shallowness.

The man has no chin. We can’t have a chinless President. Actually, he does have a chin, but it’s slowly collapsing into his turkey-like neck. To be honest, his whole head looks like it’s slowly caving in. This is a man other world leaders make jokes about behind his back. 

Lieberman is also one of the stiffest, least fun people I think I’ve ever seen. He furrows his brow when Sharpton makes a wisecrack. And his own attempts at humor make him look like the stiff he is. 

John Edwards – 

It must really suck to be anointed the front-runner in a campaign long before the campaign has even started. By the time the race gets going everyone is just standing there saying “John, what went wrong.” And why, pray tell, did the DNC and the media anoint him thusly? Really good hair. But you know what? He doesn’t have that good of hair. He has structured, constructed and manipulated hair. He had so much hairspray on that helmet that you could have bounced a Pershing missile off of it.

Edwards seems like a nice guy. But he also seems a bit like Al Gore part deux. He’s from a Southern state of moderate political import, he’s a Senator and he’s got a nice homey drawl. After three years of Dubya though I’m sick of drawls. 

Gen. Wesley Clark – 

What kind of person names their son Wesley? The last person named Wesley I can remember isn’t even a person. He’s a character on Star Trek: TNG, and he was one of the most hated characters in the history of television. 

Clark’s head is just wrong. He’s got the opposite problem that Kucinich has – tiny head, broad shoulders. I’m not sure if I’ve seen anyone Clark’s age look as uncomfortable in a suit as he does. If he really wants to win the General needs to look like a General. Is there some rule that says he cannot appear in public in his uniform? Retired soldiers are always showing up at public events in their uniforms, medals blazing in the noonday sun/TV lights. Come on, the whole point of him getting into this race was to make everyone else, including Dubya, look like the military lightweights they are. Wear the uniform, Wes. I’m quite certain you’ll look better than you do in that ill-fitting suit with that drab tie (which, by the way, you’re obviously not tying properly because I could see the top button of your shirt every time you were on camera tonight). 

John Kerry – 

I like Kerry. Liked him the minute I first laid eyes on him. And a month or two ago I figured out why. He looks like Abe Lincoln. I’m serious. John, grow a beard. Not a full beard. Just one of those beards that covers your chin and runs up your sideburns. A stovepipe hat is probably taking it too far, but you might want to practice holding your lapels on your jacket when you’re standing at a podium like all orators used to do before the turn of the last century. All this leaning on the podium and gesticulating with the hands crap came from Teddy Roosevelt, and while it worked like crazy for Teddy it’s mostly just gotten really annoying now. The monicker “Honest John” wouldn’t be a bad one to adopt either. Heck, Hollywood is remaking every film they can think of to try, why not see if America is interested in a rerun of Abe Lincoln. Oh, and don’t worry about that whole assassination thing. The Secret Service is a lot better at their job than they were in 1865.

Oh, and big points for wearing a pink tie, John. Nicely done.

Howard Dean – 

Howard, I’m with ya man. I really am. I like the anger. I like the fact that you speak off the cuff. I dig the righteous indignation. I’m really itching to see you and Dubya debate. I think you’ll massacre that smirking chimp and send him packing. But dude, the clothes.

I know you’re a doctor. And I have seriously never met a doctor who could dress himself. See, that’s the most unbelievable thing about ER. There’s too many male doctors who dress really well. The only guy on that show who actually looks like a doctor who works in a hospital is the character actor they haul out every few episodes to play the chief of staff. But is there a rule that says that now that you’re running for President that you can’t get yourself a makeover?

Here’s an idea. Clinton wowed the voters in 1992 by going on the Arsenio Hall Show and playing sax with the band. Why not sign yourself up for an appearance on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? I’m sure you could swing it. They could teach you how to szjuge (?) your hair and the sleeves on your shirts. And I’m totally down with how you make all those public appearances with your shirtsleeves rolled up. It’s just that when you do it, you do it like someone who doesn’t roll their sleeves up unless you’re making a public appearance at which you need to roll up your sleeves. 

See, the American voters are already completely confused. I’d venture to guess that about a third of the people out there think that Josiah Bartlet is the current President, and you can make that work in your favor. Pick up the phone and call your buddy Martin Sheen and see if you can borrow his stylist for a little while. Fewer light gray suits (matching your suit to your hair really isn’t a good look for you, Howard), dump the pale gray ties. You need to take a page out of Al Sharpton’s book. Dramatic, dashing suits with colorful ties. That’s the way to go. Americans are sick of people who look like CEOs. Dare to be dashing, then you can beat Dubya in both politics and style. How about it?

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