Over the past 50 years, the United States has chosen to appoint two of the most controversial men in political history. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, senator of Massachusetts and 35th president, and Barack Obama, senator of Illinois and 44th president of the United States, have proven to be America’s top picks in their time of crisis. The Vietnam War was left for Kennedy when President Eisenhower’s term ended and an economic travesty is on the doorsteps of the White House after former President George Bush vacated the office this January. As Americans reminisce on the candidates, it forces them to see how they manipulated the media to boost their image. But should our presidents, who rule over an entire country, 50 states and 300 million people, be more focused on their image than the well being of the people electing them? Obama successfully exploited celebrities such as Oprah, George Clooney and Robert De Niro to win his historical campaign. But, is it a good thing that he needed them to boost his status among prominent icons? Although his celebrity connections helped him get elected, Presidents should not rely on movie and television stars to boost their careers.
Kennedy and Obama have celebrity-esque styles to them; characteristics that put certainty back into the lives of millions. The hundreds of thousands of people who witnessed the first presidential election televised thought Kennedy had won. He was tanned, attractive and confident. Voters who were glued to their radios presumed Nixon was the victor for he spoke with eloquence and self assurance. Obama on the other hand was on every morning and late night show known to prime time TV before the November 4th election. Barack Obama became a household name as well as a global one. T- shirts, bumper stickers and calendars soon followed, leaving his opponent, John McCain, in the dust. Between Kennedy’s charm and Obama’s appeal among American taxpayers and registered voters, the two created hope and sanguinity for the future.
The trend was initiated when Kennedy wore make-up to enhance his look. As Republicans and Democrats ran for the primary spot, many refused to abandon their exhausted look of paleness and fatigue. It hurt their shots at becoming the next president; Nixon would know best. Over the next eight presidencies, nominees took Kennedy’s method and their appearance was enhanced as a result of the millions watching.
Obama became so focused on becoming the next president that he did what he thought was right: advertise himself to the American public. He has turned into a beacon of hope for many as his promises seem too good to be true. After all who will ultimately take office in January, Obama or Oprah, his biggest supporter since he announced his candidacy? Hopefully he can cut his ties with his celebrity lifestyle, join reality and help put our country back on track. Society realizes he has the potential to do this country right, which is what he primarily needs: people to believe in him and his policies. Today American citizens are more worried that their president will not be able to do the job than how they dress on television. Though it is relevant to present themselves well to the political world, it is not top priority.
Kennedy’s and Obama’s wives also played a part in their election as both have fashionable senses of style. Jacqueline Kennedy began the trend of wearing brand name clothes such as Chanel, Givenchy and Christian Dior. Though she was criticized by Women’s Wear Daily for having an expensive sense of style, she set the bar high for future wives of the White House. At the beginning of Obama’s candidacy, Michelle Obama was fairly dressed but there was room for improvement. As newspapers and media began to cover her lack of fashion, she took their criticism and used it to transform herself into an elegant first lady.
Kennedy and Obama share the same sense of lifestyle as they changed people’s views of society for the better. However they both have the same interests in the celebrity culture. Kennedy maintained his status throughout his shortened presidency but will Obama be able to loosen his ties with Hollywood. Hopefully he can, as he enters his first term as President.