Presidential Politics and the Barbie Doll-GI Joe Effect

The average American puts as much thought into selecting a  president as a seven-year-old puts into selecting a Barbie Doll.  It’s a beauty contest!  In fact, Mattel was roundly criticized in 1992, and again in 2000, for coming out with a “Presidential Candidate Barbie.”

Don’t blame Mattel.  We have come to expect the candidate who gets our vote will have the  movie-star good looks of Barbie, her boyfriend Ken or his macho rival from Hasbro, GI Joe.  

Most serious presidential candidates employ highly paid image consultants.  It’s not just the $400 haircuts.  It’s the wardrobe consultants, the make-up artists and, when necessary, the plastic surgeon – whatever it takes to make one’s exterior appealing.

If this were not so, Hillary Clinton never would have ditched her horned rimmed glasses and sensible shoes.  This hard-core feminist is like a fish out of water in jewelry and pastels, but she adapted, first, to further Bill’s political ambitions, and now those of her own.

The Democratic candidates are all from the Mattel mold with the same cookie cutter, left-wing message.

The GOP field is more diverse.   The winner of last weekend’s Nevada caucus was the Barbie doll Mitt Romney, a  “Ken” look-a-like if ever there was one.  The winner in South Carolina was John McCain, an aging but still ruggedly handsome, GI Joe with a Barbie wife.

These days, the only way a candidate who is not “Mattel perfect” can reach us is by being as entertaining as the others are suave. That’s why voters have flirted with the Big Apple’s Rudy Giuliani and “True Grit” Mike Huckabee.

How else can you explain the demise of Fred Thompson, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo – the candidates whose records matched their rhetoric on the issues GOP voters say are most important?

Sure, we want our president to have depth and reflect our values, but if truth is known, most get their political news from 30-second sound bites or, worse still, slick political ads placed between sitcoms and sporting events.  As a result, we, like that seven-year-old, project our own personalities on the candidates who win our hearts.

With the country on the brink of recession, the economy was the issue voters in Nevada and South Carolina rated “most important.”  This explains the Ken look-a-like’s victory in Nevada, but what were voters in South Carolina thinking?

John McCain has never run a business or met a payroll.   Furthermore, he is dead wrong on the illegal immigration issue, which was listed right behind the economy on the list of voter concerns.

Next, was the war in Iraq and terrorism.  All the top tier GOP candidates are strong on these issues.  However, McCain, to his credit, is the only one who has served in our armed forces.  Does that mean that this man can be trusted with the nuclear football?

Many of his colleges in the Senate have said, “No.”   McCain’s temper and uncontrolled outbursts in the Capitol, where civility is the rule, are well documented.

In February 1997, in The Washingtonian, Harry Jaffe related that in 1995, Sen. McCain had a “scuffle” with, then, 92-year-old Strom Thurmond of South Carolina after Chairman Thurmond encouraged him to shorten his opening statement during a hearing of his Armed Services Committee.

In the February, 21, 2000, Newsweek, in a piece called “Senator Hothead,” Evan Thomas reported that McCain called Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa a “F—-ing Jerk” during a debate over the fate of the Vietnam MIAs.  Additionally, Thomas reported that McCain repeatedly called Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico,  an  “a–hole” during a debate over the budget.   Thomas related, “The Republican senator witnessing the scene had considered supporting McCain for president, but changed his mind. ‘I decided,’ the senator told Newsweek, ‘I didn’t want this guy anywhere near a trigger.’”

Has McCain mellowed?  Apparently not.   Charles Hurt of the New York Post reported an outburst that occurred just last May.  During a discussion in a room off the Senate floor, McCain lost it and screamed “f— you!” at Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who had raised concerns over his immigration bill.

At the very least, the candidate you are considering for the office of president of the United States should be able to demonstrate that he can keep his cool under pressure.  A man who calls his fellow senators names and beats up on a 92-year-old, clearly is unsuitable for this job.

Playing out your fantasies  and projecting your own thoughts on those GI Joe and Barbie dolls is harmless when you are seven years old, but when adults do it with presidential candidates, it can be disastrous for the country.

8 thoughts on “Presidential Politics and the Barbie Doll-GI Joe Effect

  1. Howdy,

    While one may slide around the term “top tier,” it is not true that McCain is the only one that served in the military. Dr. Ron Paul served as a Flight Surgeon in the US Airforce in the 1960’s.

    I would also point out that Ron Paul is also one of those “candidates whose records matched their rhetoric on the issues GOP voters say are most important?” I agree with your comments about McCain and the Barbie Doll effect and just thought I’d add a note about my preferred candidate (I am on the ballot as a delegate for him, just for full disclosure). Strong, Christian gentlemen are what this country needs. Good article.

    Aaron Kavli
    Dickson, TN


  2. You have an error in your commentary when you claim that only McCain has served in the armed services.

    Dr. Ron Paul was also a Veitnam Veteran.


  3. “That’s why voters have flirted with the Big Apple’s Rudy Giuliani and “True Grit” Mike Huckabee.”

    Why is it that so many of you political pundits find it so hard to mention Ron Paul’s name in your columns? It’s bad enough that he is given short shrift in the MSM, but I can’t understand why those of you who claim to be conservative don’t look at both his record and his character, and respond in a manner respectful of them.


  4. To Aaron, Chewbacca and Darrel,

    I mean no respect to Dr. Paul — who always has been a straight shooter with voters — I am talking about the top tier here. Dr. Paul is in single digits in all national polls.


  5. I never enjoyed playing with dolls…….either Ken or Barbie – but isn’t the real reason we’ve lost viable, intelligent candidates because of an outdated and unfair method of funding political campaigns? It’s true, if you’re rich and Barbie or Ken – America does seem to love those candidates no matter how many lies leave their lips. How sad.

    We can only ask that God save America – voters aren’t. We’re a self-centered, spoiled America – we need to wake up and witness the direction this inept, fast moving poliitical train is taking us before we self-destruct as a nation.


  6. McCain did more to insure that only Rich people like Romney or entrenched politicians like himself, who have lots of people beholden to them, can afford to run.

    Nevertheless, if average Americans would realize if they gave something, anything in fact, to worthy candidates in the EARLY going, it would change that.

    Most average people want there presidential candidates on the cheap. They sit on their hands until its all over and then say, “What happened?”

    There are a lot more RPs — regular people — than rich people or even big corporations, which are giving most of the money to political campaigns at present.


  7. Jane,

    Good points about John McCain, but sadly, McCain and Guiliani are probably the only Republican candidates running for president that can win the general election. Contrary to what some are saying it is vitally important for the Republicans to maintain control of the White House and to win back the House and Senate as well if at all possible in 08. Just as Robert Dornan was never able to win back his California House seat after losing it to Loretta Sanchez, the Republican Party overall will never regain its power if the Democrats win big in 08. 08 is a bellwether election year similar to 1932 and 1980.

    Clay Byrom


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