Molly Ivins had an interesting yardstick for judging a political candidate’s chances of winning: How much Elvis the candidate has or has not.
Looking back over the last 60 years of presidential elections, I think she was onto something. It does seem that none of the things that we pretend matter really matter. Liberal or Conservative? Doesn’t matter. Religion, voting record, intelligence? Play no part. The winner, in every election since Eisenhower, has been the candidate with the most Elvis. I’m not saying that a candidate has to be eat up with Elvis, I’m just saying that he (and someday she) has to have more Elvis than his/her opponent.
If you can readily see that Dwight Eisenhower had more Elvis than Adlai Stevenson, then you understand what I’m talking about.
“Why start with Eisenhower?”
Because that’s who was president when the world heard “Hound Dog” and “Heartbreak Hotel.”
JFK had more Elvis than Nixon. (Quick show of hands, with every head bowed and every mind closed: How many can imagine Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday” to Richard Nixon?)
LBJ is not someone I’d normally associate with Elvis, but Au H2O even less so.
While Richard Nixon had considerably less Elvis than John Kennedy, Nixon had considerably more than Hubert Humphrey or George Wallace.
George McGovern had a lot of Liberace, but zero Elvis.
Again, we’re not judging anything about these men except how much Elvis they did or didn’t have. George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey, Gerald Ford: There is a lot to appreciate about them, no doubt. Good, decent men doing what they consider the right thing. That counts very much day in and day out, but it doesn’t mean doodley-squat in a presidential election.
Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford in 1976? No contest.
Say what you will (and I’m sure you will) about Ronald Reagan, he had himself some Elvis. People liked him who didn’t even want to.
George H.W. Bush had more Elvis than Michael Dukakis. That’s not saying much, but it’s why he was elected. When George H.W. had to run against someone who had some real Elvis, he fell by the wayside.
No one, now that The King himself no longer walks among us, has more Elvis than Bill Clinton. Politics aside, all that other stuff aside, Bill Clinton could get elected ten more times if the law allowed it because he has an overload of Elvis and that is the quality that counts in presidential elections.
“Are you trying to tell me that George W. Bush has a lot of Elvis?”
No, I’m saying that George W. Bush has more Elvis than Al Gore. I’m also saying that everyone (with the possible exception of Roy on the original Mickey Mouse Club) has more Elvis than John Kerry. Al Gore is brilliant. John Kerry is intelligent and he’s a bona fide war hero. Doesn’t matter. Bush has more Elvis.
There is a lot to admire and respect about John McCain. However, on a scale of 1 to 10 on the Elvis-O-Meter...well, you tell me. Barack Obama scores somewhere just shy of Bill Clinton.
So, who’s going to win in 2012? That’s an easy call. Unless the Republicans can come up with a candidate who has more Elvis than Barack Obama, well, this E-lection is a done deal.