web analytics
November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Why Boots Matter


In 1974, Ronald Reagan made the best purchase of his political career: he bought a ranch. Rancho Del Cielo – the “Ranch in the Sky” – was nestled in the hills near Santa Barbara, California. Reagan said the ranch was “a sanctuary … like no other … at Rancho del Cielo, Nancy and I could put on our boots and old clothes, recharge our batteries, and be reminded of where we had come from.”

When Reagan ran for president in 1976 and 1980, he made sure that photographers caught him chopping wood, mending fences, and riding horses. “This,” said Reagan, “is who I really am.”

In 1999, George W. Bush made the best purchase of his political career: he bought a ranch. Prairie Chapel Ranch, located in Crawford, Texas, quickly became the site of many of Bush’s photo ops, cementing Bush’s rustic persona in the public mind. When Bush announced his 2000 run for the presidency, he wore a cowboy hat and boots – and he used the ranch, his “little slice of heaven,” as his campaign headquarters.

Americans love cowboys. No presidential candidate since Richard Nixon has emerged victorious without a substantially “boots” feel. Bill Clinton ran as a hick-from-the-sticks, a country boy with a big heart; Jimmy Carter ran as an honest farmer.

Americans have always loved wilderness candidates. Thomas Jefferson routinely cited his status as a Virginia farmer. William Henry Harrison ran as a backwoodsman, bred in a small log cabin – his actual childhood home was actually rather large – and fond of hard cider. Abraham Lincoln ran as a log cabin rail-splitter.

By contrast, Americans dislike suits – men and women who feel like big-city bureaucrats. America’s biggest electoral losers have almost universally been suits: John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Horace Greeley, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, among others, have met with crushing defeat largely because they seemed like urban slicksters.

Adlai Stevenson said during the 1952 campaign, “My life has been hopelessly undramatic. I wasn’t born in a log cabin. I didn’t work my way through school nor did I rise from rags to riches, and there’s no use trying to pretend I did.” No wonder Eisenhower crushed Stevenson twice.

Why do Americans care whether their presidents wear boots? Because presidential politics is all about image-making. According to scientists, people judge each other within less than one-tenth of a second – and they rarely change those judgments.

We use images as shortcuts. Rather than investigating whether a candidate is healthy, we check his hair: if he’s bald, we often assume he’s decrepit. Rather than investigating whether a candidate is tough, we check his chest: if he’s got military ribbons, we assume he’s a rough-and-tumble fellow. Rather than investigating whether a candidate is an elitist, we check his shoes: if he’s wearing Bostonians rather than boots, we assume he’d rather play polo than get together for a beer.

This isn’t a bad thing. We have to judge candidates as people rather than lists of policy positions. After all, politicians promise us the world. The question is: whom can we trust? We should use all the tools at our disposal to determine authenticity.

And we are surprisingly good at spotting phonies. John Kerry couldn’t have slapped on a Stetson and faked a drawl – Americans would have seen through him. George W. Bush couldn’t play a professorial policy wonk – Americans would have seen through him.

Who, then, is the most authentically likable and trustworthy candidate in 2008? On the Republican side, there are three candidates with truly authentic images: John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Huckabee. Huckabee’s down-home style and easy humor make him a formidable personality politician in the Republican primaries, but his specifically Christian rhetoric and foreign policy ignorance make him seem backwards to a broader audience. Giuliani’s obvious backstreet toughness and 9/11 reputation elevate him above the usual “suit” stereotype, but his social values are the values of the city. McCain is a typical boots candidate, and the “maverick” label pinned to him by the media doesn’t hurt.

On the Democratic side, there is a dearth of authenticity. Hillary Clinton has been searching wildly for an authentic image – with her victimization routine in New Hampshire, she may have found it. Unfortunately, that image appeals to a select few. Barack Obama has an authentic image – he’s young and starry-eyed – but his broad-based appeal may be undercut once he is forced to talk policy rather than platitudes. John Edwards has perhaps the best boots image – but his obsession with his hair has added a distinctly metrosexual feel to his campaign.

History suggests that John McCain is the strongest general election candidate of the bunch, at least when it comes to image. If McCain can demonstrate the energy necessary to overcome his “aging warrior” image, he could be the odds-on favorite to enter the White House in January 2009.

And McCain is already one-up on Reagan and Bush: he’s owned a ranch in Arizona for decades.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Why Boots Matter”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Posted to Twitter in Ferguson, MO by St. Louis County Police: "Bricks thrown at police, 2 police cars burned, gun seized by police. Tonight was disappointing."  Their motto is, "To protect and serve."
Pro-ISIS Group Says ‘Use Ferguson Flames to Fuel Terror in America’
Latest Indepth Stories
Red Line Obama

“What’s a line between friends?”

West_Bank_&_Gaza_Map_2007_(Settlements)

Unrest in YESHA and J’m helps Abbas and Abdullah defuse anger, gain politically and appear moderates

Thousands of rabbis pose in front of Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Brooklyn on Sunday during the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries.

A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.

Arabs create opening for terrorists to walk the security wall between Ramallah and Jerusalem and Ramallah.

The pogroms in Chevron took place eighty five years ago, in 1929; the Holocaust began seventy-five years ago in 1939; the joint attack of Israel’s neighbors against the Jewish State of Israel happened sixty-six years ago… yet, world history of anti-Semitism did not stop there, but continues until today. Yes, the primitive reality of Jews […]

“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”

“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”

Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror

Operation Moses: First time in history that non-blacks came to Africa to free blacks from oppression

As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”

Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?

R’ Aryeh yelled “Run, I’ll fight!” Using a chair against terrorists to buy time so others could flee

Riot started when Muslim students wore the Pal. kaffiyeh and Druze students demanded them removed

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues

More Articles from Jewish Press Staff
Aaron Klein

Dmitri Diliani, a spokesperson for Fatah in Jerusalem and a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, had taken issue with Klein’s characterization of recent violence in Jerusalem as being instigated by the Palestinians.

This video from RT was taken as victims were being evacuated from the Har Nof synagogue where Arabs terrorists from eastern Jerusalem axed, knifed and shot to death four Jews while they were praying.

“The Mohammed who stole Christmas – and Yom Kippur.”

Dan, a veteran of the US Combat Engineers corps is participating in an IDF Torah dedication on Sunday, this is his story.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-boots-matter/2008/01/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: