Sharon and I were sharing a scoop of ice cream in a parking lot somewhere in the suburbs of St. Louis, and there were two couples that we overheard talking politics. A younger couple in their forties, and an older couple, probably parents to one of the younger ones. They all looked like they were fairly well off.
The younger man was arguing that it was time for change, that Bush had screwed up the war and the federal budget. Even though I agreed with him, it was obvious that he wasn't gaining any traction in the conversation. Political discussions often seem like that to me, so I don't usually engage in them unless I'm hoping to gain some insight into an opposing point of view.
After a few minutes of being harangued, the older woman laid out what she obviously thought was her trump card: "But your guy, do you really like him?" Huh. Actually, she sounded like she had him there, because the haranguing kept going on, but spinning off in several directions.
After four years of a purportedly "likeable" president, I think I'd rather have somebody in the office that I don't want to have a beer with. What is "likeability" anyway? I "liked" Gore better than Bush, but then, he projected a thoughtful demeanor as someone who liked to challenge his own thinking. This was a sharp contrast to the constant moral certainty from Bush.
I suspect that this is all more of a matter of people projecting their own ideals on their political avatars, mixed in with the careful image management of the campaigns. But anybody thinking Bush or Kerry "is a regular guy, like me" is insane.
As for Kerry, no I don't like him. I "liked" Dean, with his floundering on the religion issues and his earnest wife. Kerry's displays of macho sportiness drive me up the wall, especially the Harley-Davidson. Still, that doesn't seem nearly as phoney as any of Bush's "environmental" photo-ops, or his "compassion" visits to highlight the work of government programs just before the White House hits them with crippling budget cuts.
So, pick your aloof, phoney, elitist, poseur jerk. You're going to get one either way, so maybe you should, I quess, vote on the issues, or as an evaluation of the current administration. No matter how likeable "Dubya" is, he's brought us raging deficits, turned Iraq into a terrorist breeding ground faster that Saddam Hussein could, ruined our international credibility in all areas except destructive capacity. I don't care whether the president is "like me" or not, because somebody "like me" is not ever going to run for president.