Standing In The Gap Of The Real And Perceived
1976: Gerald Ford vs. Jimmy Carter
This is an installment in the series Sex For President, which considers the 2012 U.S. presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the historical context of previous U.S. presidential elections. To read more about the premise of Sex For President, read the first installment at https://americanparser.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/sex-for-president/.
Before he was the Jesse Jackson of foreign policy, Habitat for Humanity volunteer, and pigeon for Islamic revolutionists, James Earl Carter, Jr. was just your average Southern gentleman millionaire man-of-the-people Christian Democrat.
In terms of sex appeal, I’ll admit this contest is a tough one to call, and it showed, both popularly and electorally. Gerald Ford was certainly the more handsome of the two. But he was balding, 11 years older than Carter, and had been, pardon him, Tricky Dick‘s vice president. That was definitely a turnoff in the American bed, the equivalent of trying to score with Taylor Swift at a bar by introduction of Andrew Dice Clay and The Situation. Had Watergate never happened, things might have been different. By comparison, though, Jimmy still seemed like an “aww-shucks virgin.”
Carter was one hell of a peanut farmer. Ford was one hell of a college football player. As presidents, however, both are remembered as largely inept. Unfortunately for Ford, no one thought this about Carter yet. Sexiness requires respect, or at least infatuation. Carter had the mojo this time around, because sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Break out the Billy Beer!
By the way, I was privileged to see Gerald Ford give a speech at Brevard College in 1988. I have to say, it was a distinct honor, although I personally don’t remember a thing about it.