BEFORE TOO LONG (in 15 interminable months) we'll be electing a president here in Chapel Hill. Since, as a member of the mainstream media, I must retain my devout neutrality, rather than boosting any of the candidates I will handicap them all -- or at least as many I can in my allotted space -- by giving them my sage consultations.
We will start with Democrats: Snow White and the seven other candidates of lesser stature. At the top, we have Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton's biggest problem is that she, well, comes across like a Mrs. Clinton. What she really needs is to forge a closer association in the public's mind with the warmest and most likeable member of the Clinton clan. Unfortunately Buddy died several years ago, so perhaps Bill will have to do. Cleavage looks like a good idea as well.
John Edwards should cultivate the perception that he is less precisely groomed than he actually is. The personal style consultant used by Al Gore during his bearded, plaid-wearing phase certainly could help, if he is within Edwards $1250-a-day hair-fashion budget (not including stylist's travel expenses).
"Joe" Biden, in contrast, should clean up his image. More specifically, he needs to become more "articulate and bright and clean." He'd be a "nice-looking guy" with a few more hair plugs.
Chris Dodd, whoever he is, needs to develop more name recognition.
Barack Obama needs to develop less name recognition. His middle name is Hussein. I'm not making this up. Hussein, you know, like Saddam Hussein. Name change, though unusual for politicians -- as opposed to actors or rock stars -- is the way to go. My wife wrote the North Carolina General Practice Deskbook entry for name change, so she could consult with him on it. If the change were only for North Carolina I would recommend Jesse Hunt, but for the national stage, I think John F. Reagan would be perfect.
Dennis Kucinich needs to develop more stature. Perhaps if he compromised on his vegan diet just enough so that he could take human growth hormone, that might do it. Stopping having nutty ideas would be another approach.
"Bill" Richardson could stop trying to pass himself off as Hispanic -- with a name like "Bill" Richardson, the ruse is never going to work anyway. Besides, where did he ever get the idea that actually being qualified for the presidency would even give him the remotest shot at getting nominated much less elected?
Now.let us advise the Republican candidates starting with "Rudy" Giuliani. As there is very little that Rudy can do about being pro-gay rights, for abortion rights and in favor of gun control, or being married three times, he might want to consider moving to some very red state, such as Nebraska or Utah, so he will have something in common with some Republican.
John McCain, having alienated most of the traditional party base with his push for immigration reform which included amnesty for current illegals, should consider a meet-and-greet session on Arizona's southern border with some Republicans who may still like him – that is, people from the Republic of Mexico.
Being a multi-millionaire politician from Massachusetts, Mitt Romney distinguishes himself from Republican-favorite John Kerry by being a Mormon but a little more distinction would be useful. He might give up waterskiing.
As the former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee would be a shoo-in as the Democrat nominee. As a Republican, he needs to gain a little gravitas -- so he might consider putting some of those 100 pounds he took off back on.
"Newt" Gingrich, being named for a relative of a salamander, is saddled with a definite liability. Our society has a clear and uncontestable mammalian bias in its esteem for animals. (If, for example, the boyz of Bad Newz Kennels had been electrocuting lizards or strangling chickens, there would be much less hubbub about it.) Clearly he needs a much more masculine name but I recommend something other than Mitt or Arnold or Barack.
This leaves us with Fred Thompson, the likely Republican nominee and even more likely next-president, who having held no office below admiral in any of his major motion picture roles, needs to change very little to be nominated, elected and canonized. My view on Thompson is this: if a bad actor can become a great president, the potential for a good actor is unlimited. The only thing he needs to work on is reading his acceptance speech off a TelePrompter.
Gary D. Gaddy, with his first presidential ballot, voted for George McGovern -- and hasn't done much better since.
A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday August 9, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy