Friday, September 07, 2012

"Coolest" Presidents

So who would you rate as a "cool" President?  NPR rated 7 as the "coolest."  The "expected" choices were here - Clinton, Kennedy and TR, but here's an interesting choice - Thomas Jefferson:
Thomas Jefferson. The polymath from Virginia "was cool in the early days of the new republic," Whitney says. "He broke with the aristocratic formalities of his predecessors, George Washington and John Adams, and introduced the revolutionary republican greeting from France — the hand shake — to welcome guests to Monticello and the White House. Quite hip in his day, he was a renowned musician and elegant dancer with whom women fell in love."

Cool, of course, can have more than one definition, according to Julia Azari, an assistant political science professor at Marquette University. On one hand, presidential cool can refer to a president's ability to charm others, defy convention and appear hip — exemplified by Clinton's saxophone playing and Kennedy's movie-grade glamour. But it also can refer to a president's unflappable and seemingly detached manner.

In presidential politics, Azari says, the two definitions are often at odds. The first definition "sets the president up as a celebrity, but also speaks to the intimacy of his connection with not only the people but also popular, 'low' culture."

The second definition, she says, "positions the president as above the fray, impervious to petty political criticism. This is a key quality to cultivate during times when presidents have to make difficult political decisions."

So who might you put on this list who isn't here?  I think I might put Andrew Jackson on this list myself.

1 comment:

biff said...

I would put Andrew Jackson on the list. Between his habit of getting in duels and his home, the Heretage, he was definitely cool for his time.