Unelectable Past Presidents part 1, part 2, and part 3 were originally published by The Huffington Post on 6/14/2011, 6/21/2011, and 6/28/2011 respectively. I have opted to post a mildly revised (and condensed) version of these posts, since bloggers with The Huffington Post retain rights to their work.
There has been some appearance-based superficiality to the presidential process since even before the era of television. For instance, Republicans favored Warren G. Harding partially for “looking like a president.” However, despite a presidential appearance, he promptly gambled away the White House china and admitted that he was not “fit for this office” of president. His greatest accomplishment was dying in office.
Another man that died in office was a far superior but unsightly president. An elderly woman upon making eye contact with Honest Abe said, “I do believe you are the ugliest man I ever saw.” Lincoln replied, “Madam, you are probably right, but I can’t help it!” “No,” said she, “you can’t help it, but you might stay at home!” This homely president may be our greatest president; however, on looks alone, Harding might get the nod over Lincoln in a 21st century primary.
Franklin Pierce, generally considered one of the most attractive presidents, was also among the five worst presidents. Pierce was a Northern, pro-Southern expansionist in a sensitive ideological war of Free States and the Slave States. He was reviled in the North when it was found out that he was trying to buy Cuba (ripe for slavery) from Spain and when he signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This bill, which allowed settlers to determine if Kansas would be a Free State or Slave State, led to 200 politically motivated deaths.
Harry Truman, a great president with desk-clerk looks and no college degree, said of Pierce, “He’s got the best picture in the White House, Franklin Pierce, but being President involves a little bit more than just winning a beauty contest, and he was another one that was a complete fizzle… Pierce didn’t know what was going on, and even if he had, he wouldn’t of known what to do about it.” Nevertheless, the 21st century is likely to embrace its Pierces and exclude its Trumans.
The following are 27 American presidents that would not be electable today, assuming they refused to adapt to our image-conscious times. For the sake of humor we shall say that they are fixed in their ways: