There’s an unusually large amount of job stress because it’s rather 24/7; you just can’t seem to escape the office.
That being said, the perks are pretty good: a fleet of aircraft at your disposal, including two 747s; your own mansion and mountain retreat; an army of highly trained body guards; and the kind of power that most eight year-olds only dream about. Oh, and you don’t have to wait for red lights anymore.
Did I mention the large private staff and world class tailors fighting over whom get to dress you head to toe?
While that sounds attractive, and though I have a real love of politics, you couldn’t pay me enough to be president of the United States. The interview process alone would kill most of people – or at the least hasten along coronary heart disease or something equally unpleasant.
On top of the grueling multiyear campaigning, required glad handing, backslapping, baby kissing, money raising and stump speeching, there is the never ending scrutiny. Everything from the shoes on your feet to your choice in ties is picked apart every day by thousands of journalists across the world.
I mean, what exactly does one wear when standing on a hay bale in Iowa? Should the shirt sleeves be rolled or unrolled? More than that, what kind of shirt should you wear? Should it be a dress shirt to show that bit of the executive-down-in-the-trenches thing? Maybe a flannel work shirt, appropriately worn-in by a devoted staffer so it doesn’t look like it just came out of the shopping bag (which it did) to indicate that you are a man of the earth?
Most importantly, you need to constantly maintain your image-consultant-defined “presidential persona.” So much to remember about yourself; who are we today?
Tough on Defense Guy: Usually found speaking at some type of veteran’s gathering. Wears a dark suit, white shirt and primary color tie for inside speeches or a leather flight jacket and work boots if outside.
Mr. Education: Often located in a sea of mildly interested children. Wears a blue blazer with open collared shirt; overall friendly earth tones work here.
Dr. Heath Care: Where do you find him? I have two words for you – nursing home. The CEO look is popular for this venue, with a dark or medium gray suit, blue tie and cuff links.
Captain Environment: Usually shown outside in a national park or near an endangered lake. Wears hiking boots, jeans, pale blue work shirt and field coat.
And you think you have a hard time getting dressed in the morning. I’m not even getting into the stuff you have to deal with if actually elected president. Think about it. The president – and I’m talking about a man here, though it’s likely we’ll have a female one any minute – pretty much just wears a suit. That means any derivation from that uniform is noticed and analyzed.
The difficulty is that in The United States we want two things at once. Our president can never take on the trappings of a king but should always look “presidential.” That is, he should always be dressed better than the average CEO, but not too much better. At the same time, he cannot have airs. Citizens always want to feel that on some level the president is just like us.
The candidates know all this and constantly fight for the right balance. Democratic candidate John Edwards is a good example of this duality. He always wears a Timex Ironman wrist watch. It’s inexpensive, not particularly attractive but functional.
Every chance he gets, that watch is visible and obvious. From Jeans and a too-new looking work coat to a hand tailored presidential debate suit, it’s always there.
Why is that, you might ask? The man is a multimillionaire with a custom built sprawling low country estate. He gets $400 haircuts. You really think when this former senator gets dressed each day there is no Rolex or Cartier patiently waiting its turn in the dresser drawer? I’d bet money on it.
He prominently displays his Timex Ironman because he wants us to understand that he’s a man of the people; just a guy fighting the system on our behalf. This is the watch of Middle America, it says; of the working guy, and don’t you forget it.
That Edwards’ entire campaign can be represented in a watch shows the power of perception and the importance of detail. Every candidate no matter the party or even country focuses on these things because they matter. We say they don’t but when it comes time to pull that lever, someone, somewhere is thinking about John Edward’s watch.