“Likable, schmikable. Isn't the nation at war?” asks the Chicago Tribune's Julia Keller. Yet America's love for likable candidates (think George W. Bush) took center stage at a recent debate when Barack Obama defended Hillary Clinton's likability. Some candidates have won without it, but it gives voters "a sense of human fellowship" with people in another political and social stratosphere, one analyst says.
We're "conflicted" about it, says another—especially since good looks play a big role—so candidates and voters play it down, not wanting to seem vain or superficial. Which may be why Obama added that "leadership" outranks "who's going to be fun to have a beer with." Yet between Bush, Sen. John Kerry, and Al Gore, who's a better beer prospect? "Bush beat 'em both," Keller writes.