October 6, 2008

We like our Presidents tall and not too thin.

This chart illustrates the proposition that the more substantial -- physically substantially -- man wins. Think about it:



(View that clip in its 4 minute context here.)

Say what you want about weight -- and give Barack some cheeseburgers if he needs to bulk up -- I think the chart mainly demonstrates the shocking advantage of height in politics.

You just know those men were lording it over others all their lives. Any short ones probably had to develop their bullying tendencies to get as far as they did.... like that little bastard James Madison, the shrimpiest President. 5'4" and 100 pounds? Like a 13-year-old girl with bulimia! Picture him in the school yard! And here's the woman who married him:



Now, what is it about these successful, little men?

65 comments:

Meade said...

Gomphocarpus physocarpus?

Trevor Jackson said...

Call it the Napoleon complex.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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MadisonMan said...
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Darcy said...

Hmm...never thought of McCain as a "little man". Is he?

I think Gore and Kerry were both bigger than George Bush, weren't they? More physically imposing? Or was it just W.'s posture?

MadisonMan said...

Having deleted my first comment, I'll say that my eyes are deceiving me this morning.

vbspurs said...

Barack Obama is categorically NOT 6'1 1/2, as detailed in that piece. I blogged about his height (and McCain's) in:

How tall is Palin?

The man was a few feet away from me. My own father is 6'4. He is no less than 6'2 1/2 at the very LEAST. Bill Clinton is listed as that exact height, and certainly Obama is taller. He must be 6'3.

See here.

Cheers,
Victoria

Darcy said...

Oops. It helps to look at the chart!

5'7"? 165?? Wow.

Interesting.

vbspurs said...

Hmm...never thought of McCain as a "little man". Is he?

Yes. Many people aren't aware that pilots tend to be small. The average size of the Mercury 7 astronauts was 5'7 (Gus Grissom, who died in Apollo I was only 5'5).

It has to do with the size of their cock, uh, pits.

Hoosier Daddy said...

like that little bastard James Madison, the shrimpiest President. 5'4" and 100 pounds? Like a 13-year-old girl with bulimia! Picture him in the school yard!

I know that was tongue in cheek but 5'4 in the mid 18th century wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Take a look at any museum that has original Civil War uniforms and one might think children were fighting in the war.

Darcy said...

LOL, Victoria.

Chris Wren said...

Yes, all men choose their mates entirely on the basis of hangups related to their physical stature. Love and the desire for companionship with a compatible soulmate never have anything to do with it.

Electric Citizen said...

"Surely the notion of SHRIMPs (Severely Height-Restricted Individuals of the Male Persuasion) as an oppressed social group is silly, and the idea of special protections or compensatory benefits for short men preposterous?

Both men and women, whether short or tall, thought that short men--heights between 5' 2" and 5' 5"--were less mature, less positive, less secure, less masculine; less successful, less capable, less confident, less outgoing; more inhibited, more timid, more passive; and so on. Other studies confirm that short men are judged, and even judge themselves, negatively."

vbspurs said...

Take a look at any museum that has original Civil War uniforms and one might think children were fighting in the war.

Quite right. Nevertheless, American men have always had the reputation around the world for being above-average in height. Queen Victoria remarked that the American Ambassadors always gave her neck aches, because she had to look up at them.

(She would never invite Ambassadors to sit in her presence)

Remember our very first President, George Washington, was 6'2. Thomas Jefferson, 6'2 1/2. John Tyler, Franklin Pierce and other nondescript Presidents, tall men for their times. Short Presidents seem to be the exception to the rule.

Having said that, it's a wonder that there hasn't been a taller President than Abraham Lincoln since 1865 though.

Even Kerry in 2004 would've only tied him.

vbspurs said...

Love and the desire for companionship with a compatible soulmate never have anything to do with it.

Sarcasm ill-becomes you, Mr. Wren.

There is absolutely every historical precedence for short men choosing tall women as wives or mistresses.

Alexander the Great was 5'0. His senior wife, Roxanne, was 5'8.

Just to throw this out there, though, Mary Queen of Scots was a behemoth at 5'10. Her first husband was 5'3.

Cheers,
Victoria

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Electric Citizen said...

A matter of debate among medical historians is whether Abraham Lincoln had Marfan syndrome, an inherited connective tissue disorder. Lincoln's famously gaunt appearance is far from definitive proof, but he did have certain physical traits commonly associated with Marfan syndrome. These include an extremely tall, slender build, a narrow face, loose joints, and spinal or chest wall abnormalities.

CNN

Palladian said...

"A compilation of evidence from excavations of graves dating to the American colonial period gives averages of 173.2 [67.54 inches or 5’ 7 ½"] for males and 159.8 cm [62.32 inches or slightly over 5’ 2 ¼"]

"By the time of the American Revolution, native-born whites appear to have achieved nearly modern final heights. The analysis of a sample of recruits from the Revolutionary Army (1775-1783) indicates that the final height of native-born white males between the ages of twenty-four and thirty-five averaged 68.1 inches.The figure is not only one to four inches greater that the final height of European males reported for several nations during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, but is also virtually identical with final heights in the Union Army during the Civil War and in the U.S. Army during World War II."

Which means that Madison was a pip-squeak even by the standards of his day.

According to the CDC, the average mean height for American males 20 years old and over was 175.8 cm (5' 9.3") in 1999-2002 [PDF FILE]. So the average American male is only 2.6 cm taller than his 18th century ancestor.

vbspurs said...

Anyone familiar with the corn-fed country boys upon which this country was built?

Delectable. Legs like tree trunks.

A nation of Alan Jacksons and Trace Adkins.

vbspurs said...

Electric Citizen, I've heard that about Lincoln having Marfan, but does anyone know if Ann Coulter suffers from Marfan Syndrome too?

Her hands show the "spidery" elongation consistent with Marfan. They're freaky...

Ron said...

I've always thought a candidate could never be shorter than his wife, or even the same height...but McCain disproves this!

Verso said...

Funny picture of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

Verso said...

Here's a link to the corresponding article.

Palladian said...

"Just to throw this out there, though, Mary Queen of Scots was a behemoth at 5'10."

To paraphrase Monty Python, the most interesting thing about Mary, Queen of Scots is that she was five foot ten inches tall at the start of her reign, but only four foot eleven inches tall at the end of it...

Hoosier Daddy said...

So the average American male is only 2.6 cm taller than his 18th century ancestor.

Interesting. Then again I think its safe to say that the average American's girth has far exceeded the height increase over the years.

Palladian said...

"A nation of Alan Jacksons and Trace Adkins."

What a terrifying thought.

If it must be so, then hopefully we can lose the mullets and the moustaches.

Triangle Man said...

Cheeseburgers might do it, but if Obama quits smoking he'll put on a few pounds.

Palladian said...

"Then again I think its safe to say that the average American's girth has far exceeded the height increase over the years."

Oh yes. From that same CDC document:

"Average weight has increased dramatically in the last 40 years with the greatest increases seen in adults. Mean BMI has also increased. Although height has also increased this increase has been much more modest."

vbspurs said...

Although height has also increased this increase has been much more modest."

Patently not the case with the Japanese, who were reaching terrifying heights and girths last time I went there.

I would marvel being next to an older Japanese man in the subway and just towering over him (I am 5'6). But the young kids in parks would be towering over me.

What a little McDonald's does to a culture...

Ann Althouse said...

In his essay "Big Red Son," David Foster Wallace observes that male porn stars are short, around 5'5", and the main reason is that their small bodies make their genitals look larger.

Pogo said...

Were height sufficient to lead, the giraffe would be king of the jungle. Tenacity, even ferocity, can magnify even the smallest creature. Best not to mess with raccoons or wolverines, for example.

Much as I dislike the man, Tom Cruise does a frightening cameo in Tropic thunder of a small but vicious and powerful man. Worth seeing just for that, and yet again I detest him.

Suppose Obama had had sufficient internal stature to have rejected certain associates? Trooper said once he's a bought-and-paid-for Chicago pol, and I think this is true. His height is external only.

bearbee said...

Many presidents/opponents had a 1/2 to 1" difference. I doubt 1/2" or 1" difference registers with most people.

I suspect FDR while taller than his opponents was usually seated in some fashion. In 1932 many voters did not realize he could not walk. I think most in 1932 were voting against Hoover rather than for FDR.

In earlier times with limited communications and no photography were people aware of the appearance of the candidates?

While taller men appear more elegant or as having elegant lines, shorter men seem to exude more energy and power.

AllenS said...

I'd be a lot taller if it wasn't for my beer belly compressing my spine.

dbp said...

Ruth Anne Adams said...
38 blue-eyed presidents out of 43 is an even bigger and statistically shocking advantage.

So, what color are John McCain's eyes? If they are not blue, maybe he should start wearing blue contact lenses.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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vbspurs said...

McCain's eyes are a mavericky hazel.

It's an unusual ticket, because Palin is so dark, that I have wondered out loud if she has some native blood herself.

She has caramel coloured eyes.

jdeeripper said...

vbspurs said...Barack Obama is categorically NOT 6'1 1/2, as detailed in that piece. I blogged about his height (and McCain's) in:

How tall is Palin?

The man was a few feet away from me. My own father is 6'4. He is no less than 6'2 1/2 at the very LEAST. Bill Clinton is listed as that exact height, and certainly Obama is taller. He must be 6'3.


Victoria, wrong, wrong, wrong.

You cling to that view of Obama's height like a Pennsylvanian clings to his guns, God and hatred of foreigners.

All you have is Obama standing next to an older, shrunken Bill Clinton.

You know Hillary has taken a few inches off ole Bill in more ways than one.

How about Obama standing next to other men.

The Republicans need to nominate James Comey, Ashcroft's former deputy. The man is about 6'8".

vbspurs said...

You cling to that view of Obama's height like a Pennsylvanian clings to his guns, God and hatred of foreigners.

Heh. I admit, Jdeeripper, I am bordering on the obsessive about clinging bitterly to that stat. He's also unusually skinny. Painfully so. That often gives an illusion of height.

Frankly, he gives off an effete vibe. I could take him.

vbspurs said...

Hey! Did you see what McCain has on his tie, in Ruth Anne's link above?

Is that Hercules powerlifting??

MadisonMan said...

How about Obama standing

They look like they're about to kiss! (NTTAWWT)

jdeeripper said...

vbspurs said...McCain's eyes are a mavericky hazel.

It's an unusual ticket, because Palin is so dark, that I have wondered out loud if she has some native blood herself.


I've wondered the same thing after hearing the talk of Todd being an Eskimo. Todd Palin's great grandmother was Eskimo and he doesn't have any noticeable traits.

But Sarah does look like she might be part American Indian like a lot of Americans. Including her supporter Dolly Parton.

Andrew said...

Height is a disadvantage.

All that happens is you bang your head more.

And when you're not banging that, you bang your knees.

Auto manufacturers around the world hate tall people!

JSU said...

I assume the trend will reverse itself as women start becoming President. Sheer size in a woman is likely perceived differently than in a man.

vbspurs said...

MadisonMan, might I interest you in a little som'th'in som'th'in?

Takes Two To Tango

As I said, that last photo. GOLD.

Cheers,
Victoria

MadisonMan said...

Height is a disadvantage.

Too right. Try getting sleeves that fit. Try sitting in an airplane seat. Try walking through a Frank Lloyd Wright designed house (the man hated tall people).

However, it's great to be in a crowd and serenely look over it, not having to train your eyes at the middle of someone's shoulder blades or at their sweaty armpit.

vbspurs said...

I've wondered the same thing after hearing the talk of Todd being an Eskimo. Todd Palin's great grandmother was Eskimo and he doesn't have any noticeable traits.

When he was young, no. But as he ages, I can see the native features come out more.

He also has a very native accent. I've met many a Seminole or Miccosukee indian who sounds just like him. It's more about cadence than anything.

But Sarah does look like she might be part American Indian like a lot of Americans. Including her supporter Dolly Parton.

Wow! One can really see Dolly's possible native heritage in that photo, Jdeeripper.

Don't Appalachians like her usually have native blood? Elvis certainly did.

vbspurs said...

Re: Palin's colouring.

What is curious, is that her brothers and sisters are so blond, one can call them Scandinavian. Both her parents are quite fair too.

Perhaps a throwback (oh dear, I didn't just give Andrew Sullivan genetic conspiracy ammo about her, did I?).

jdeeripper said...

Don't Appalachians like her usually have native blood? Elvis certainly did.

Some. I've always thought George Wallace and Strom Thurmond were part American Indian.

Other celebs who are part American Indian include - Johnny Depp, Cher, Wayne Newton, Roy Rogers, Val Kilmer, Bob Barker.

I love the girl in the video link.

She's a young Sarah Palin. A little bit of difficulty and then.......

vbspurs said...

- Johnny Depp, Cher, Wayne Newton, Roy Rogers, Val Kilmer, Bob Barker.

Wow, Bob Barker? I knew about the others, especially Wayne Newton, but I thought Cher only claimed she was native (she's mostly Armenian)?

Personally, my least favourite Algonquin Roundtable writer, Robert Benchley, certainly always struck me as being mixed or Tohesian (ask Ruth Anne).

peter hoh said...

Nice chart. Loved the graphic touch on Jimmy Carter's silhouette.

jdeeripper said...

vbspurs said...Re: Palin's colouring.

Both her parents are quite fair too.


Yes, but her parents are old and gray.

Her mother in the video has full facial bone structure that might betray American Indian genes. I'd like to see photos of her mother in her youth to judge better.

What is curious, is that her brothers and sisters are so blond, one can call them Scandinavian.

There are many light/dark sibling combos.

Notice JFK, Jr and Caroline Kennedy or Actors John Cusack and sister Joan Cusack.

And Hugh Rodham and Hillary Rodham

bearbee said...

He's also unusually skinny. Painfully so. That often gives an illusion of height.

Wrong!

It is the fit of his suits that gives the illusion of thiness.

Christy said...

I don't know about the rest of Tennessee but most of the people whose family goes back a couple of hundred years in East Tennessee have some Cherokee. I'm theoretically 1/16th but Blue Eyed. And my Daddy, 1/8th, had the deepest blue eyes you ever saw. I was surprised when I read a Sam Houston's bio to learn that his Cherokee wife was really only 1/8th Cherokee. The "one drop" rule applied, so who knows what fraction of Native American anyone is.

Chip Ahoy said...

vbspurs, Hermes ties with amusing patterns. I love 'em. I have one of tiny Napoleons, except with his hand stuck inside his pants rather than inside his shirt. Other than that, it appears to be a standard stripped red and blue club tie. As yet, nobody has ever noticed.

These Hermes ties can be seen on eBay in large numbers but I've never seen the Napoleon pattern there. I've concluded they're kept and loved, as mine is.

Floridan said...

James Madison: Short, but an intellectual and he graduated from an Ivy League school. Plus author of those pesky Bill of Rights.

More important, he palled around with revolutionaries!

Certainly not a Joe Six-Pack type, doggone it.

mccullough said...

I had never noticed the height difference between Obama and McCain before. Maybe it's because McCain seems a lot tougher. At 72 he could still kick Obama's skinny ass.

I think Al Gore overestimated the importance of the tendency to vote bigger when he walked next to W. at one of the 2000 debates to show his bigger stature. He ended up looking like a fool and W.'s reaction was perfect. Did Naomi Wolf recommend he do that?

Karl Rove is no genius, it's just that W.'s opponents were so stupid.

William said...

Velocity trumps height and mass. I don't think Al Pacino and Jimmy Cagney got picked on too much in school.

bearbee said...

Plus author of those pesky Bill of Rights.

Wasn't Patrick Henry the initial agitator for a bill of rights?

Cedarford said...

With all the sidetalk of NA's, it is worth pointing out that our first true racial minority on a national ticket was Charle Curtis, a half-NA VP under Herbert Hoover. Not Obama.
(He lived on a Reservation in childhood, nearly half American Indian in ancestry. His mother, Ellen Pappan, was one-fourth Kaw, one-fourth Osage, one-fourth Pottawatomie and one-fourth French.)

----------------
mccullough said...
I had never noticed the height difference between Obama and McCain before. Maybe it's because McCain seems a lot tougher. At 72 he could still kick Obama's skinny ass.


Stupid talk, like how Sarah Palin could beat Obama -a pretty good ball-handling and shooting basketball playing guy - who is faster, outweighs her by 60 pounds, and has about a foot height advantage.
McCain is old and crippled by arthritis and war injuries. He'd have a hard time kicking the ass of one of the "Beverley Hills Chihuahuas". Maybe if they were the same ages...in his youth, McCain loved picking fights and won most of them..I'd go with McCain though, if the contest was to be decided by throwing the two of them in a darkened room with Bowie knives and see who walked out. (But then again, I'd give Putin better odds facing the two of them in the same room with only a penknife)

------------------
The "stat" of taller candidate wins on height is a fairly bogus quirk because the differences have been nearly negligable and undiscernable to viewers. Nixon "shorter" at 5 11 3/4ths to JFK's 6 feet?

What is more likely is women tend to vote far more than men do on "looks" of a male candidate. Which covers why JFK got more votes, same with Silky Pony-Boy Edwards, and why the unappealing Treebeard (Kerry) did so miserably despite a readily apparant 5" height advantage over the hapless Dubya..
In fairness to woman's feckless nature as voters, men tend to go for better-looking female candidates almost as ardently.

blake said...

I believe Madison originally opposed a Bill of Rights on the basis that it would be used as a document to limit people's rights to the ones written.

He was probably right in that regard. But the corollary is that with nothing written, nothing would be preserved, not even the little we have now.

Floridan said...

Cedarford: "What is more likely is women tend to vote far more than men do on "looks" of a male candidate. . . . . In fairness to woman's feckless nature as voters, men tend to go for better-looking female candidates almost as ardently."

And what, exactly, is the basis for this assertion?

Cedarford said...

Floridan - It is no accident that so many of the "high females" in office are photogenically attractive former cheerleaders (Pelosi, Sebelius, Olympia Snowe) or ex-beauty queens (Liddy Dole, Sarah Palin, Kay Bailey Hutchinson) in their younger, pre-botox years.

Women in elections, and this is confirmed by behavioralists in blind tests of offering two identical candidates in age, beliefs - will tend to go with the candidate that is taller, or richer, better-looking, more glamorous. Men also are swayed somewhat to go with better-looking men, but definitely to women they think are "hot" or used to be hot.

And behavioralists have found a significant minority of women don't care what a candidate believes, as long as they have John Edwards looks and they "touch my heart..."

freshlegacy said...

I'm not sure that chart is all that accurate. They list Jimmy Carter as being 6'1", same height as Ronald Reagan and an inch taller than Ford. I recall both Reagan and Ford as being taller than Carter, and Carter's height is listed elsewhere on the internet as about 5'9"

Ann Althouse said...

The chart is updated as to Carter now. It says he was 5'9", not 6'1".