What Do Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul, Bernie Sanders, and Ted Cruz’s Shoes Tell Us About Them?
Forget the speeches, the debates, the Dark Money, the white papers, the talking points, the high gloss commercials. The secret to the character — and agenda — of the presidential candidates is hidden in plain sight. Don’t “follow the money.” Follow the shoes.
No less of a cultural critic than Bette Midler once observed: “I firmly believe that with the right footwear one can rule the world.” Since the president represents the closest thing to the ruler of the world… let’s look at how the candidates are shod.
As GQ says:
You Can Judge a Man by His Shoes: They reveal whether he takes pride in the little things. If he throws on a nice suit and pairs it with cheap, clunky lace-ups, he’s not what you’d call a detail man. And if he leaves his pricey wingtips scuffed and unpolished, he may not be the closer you’re looking for.
This applies to women as well.
As Men’s Health reports:
Most guys don’t even attempt to understand the profound relationship between a woman and her shoes. That’s fair. But if you’re looking for insights about her personality—whether she’s extroverted or introverted, fiery or laid-back—her feet are exactly where you want to be glancing.
Skeptical? Science has our back: A 2012 study from the University of Kansas found that people are able to accurately judge 90 percent of a stranger’s personality, including their emotional stability, simply by looking at their most-worn pair of shoes.
Dubious on the politics of shoes? Remember the Pulitzer-prize winning photograph of Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson’s sole. This photograph of a hole in the sole of Stevenson’s shoes transfixed America. As stated in iconicphotos.wordpress.com:
Gallagher (the photographer) had the image–which would bec(o)me one of the great political photos of all time. The next day, it [hit] the airwaves and papers. The hole was totally out of character for the aristocratic, wealthy, intellectual Stevenson, who was having difficulty establishing himself as a candidate of the people in his race against Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Here is a peer into footwear of the top 5 Republican presidential contenders as identified by pundit Larry Sabato’s most recent crystal ball and that of all four declared Democratic presidential contenders. Let us together peer deep into the soles of the leading candidates, America, and you will learn enough safely to tune out the billions of dollars of inane chatter about to be beamed at you (if you live in a swing state).
Sabato’s crystal ball, as of May 12, scored the Republicans “Leading Contenders” as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker. The next tier is “The Outsiders,” Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.
The declared Democrats are Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Lincoln Chafee, and Martin O’Malley.
The Kentucky senator and prospective GOP presidential candidate — whose libertarian politics mesh with those of the billionaire megadonor brothers Charles and David Koch — appeared at the annual winter meeting of the Koch donor network wearing a boxy blue blazer, faded jeans and cowboy boots.
Some attendees commented that Paul’s appearance was “cavalier,” said Frayda Levin, a Paul supporter and major donor who attended the conference. … “This is an older crowd and much more establishment crowd. They are used to a Romney. They are used to a Jeb Bush,” Levin said.
What does this tell us? Black lace-up dress shoes are the classic symbol of the Eastern business establishment. They bespeak an old-school GOP conservatism. Message: if you are looking for someone to put the Chamber of Commerce back on top, look no further!
Cowboy boots speak to a wilder, more populist, ethos. Reagan wore them.
As TheArtofManliness.com observes: “The Western-style riding boot is somewhere between folk art, pop culture, and functional clothing. Actors have worn them, and so have Presidents — and for that matter, so have actors who became Presidents.”
Cowboy boots bespeak a kind of frontier, can-do, go-it-alone ethos fully consistent both with Sen. Paul, who recently defied the Establishment to curb the snooping of the NSA and restore some integrity to the Fourth Amendment, and to Sen. Cruz, who led the charge to shut down the entire federal government.
Message: Who was that masked man? I don’t know, but he left this silver bullet.
By footwear the GOP’s top contenders appear divided between the Eastern Establishment and the Frontiersmen.
The contrast between the parties becomes quite vivid when we pivot to the Democratic contenders. In a 2008 campaign photo Hillary Clinton was wearing what StyleBistro called “brown kitten heels… conservative but attractive.”
Footwearnews.com observes: “The upcoming campaign trail is indeed a pivotal time for politicians to dress their best. Clinton’s signature styles includes sensible heels — often kitten-heel styles in solid leathers.” And goes on to recommend: “Paul Andrew’s hand-woven brocade pumps offer a punchy touch of color in saturated pink. Houndstooth-print pumps from Lucy Choi London would also add a bit of kick to the conservative pantsuits she often favors. More classic footwear options might include slingback pumps from Oscar de la Renta and Jimmy Choo, in solid patent and metallic colorways.”
Hillary Clinton’s sensible yet stylish footwear shows her to belong to the Eastern Establishment.
Bernie Sanders appears to be wearing black loafers, a perfect man-of-the-people fashion statement. As Sanders said to CNBC: “You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country.”
Martin O’Malley takes us back to black lace-up dress shoes. This, however, denotes less about him than it does about others. Gov. O’Malley may be, with the possible exception of Sen. Paul, the most fashion-forward of the candidates. O’Malley often is pictured Springsteen-esque, playing in his Irish band. He has been photographed bare-chested almost as often as Vladimir Putin.
In a statement furnished for this column Gov. Chafee stated: “I have put shoes on thousands of horses but when I wear them they are from Allen Edmonds.” Edmonds purveys classic men’s dress shoes. Gov. Chafee derives from Purebred Establishment stock.
Yet look deeper. NPR points out:
After attending exclusive prep schools, including Phillips Academy (known as Andover) — where he was a schoolmate of Jeb Bush — and majoring in classics at Brown University, Chafee went to Montana State University in Bozeman. There, he learned the art and craft of a farrier — a master of horse shoeing. He then spent seven years working at harness racetracks around North America. His time as a farrier earned him a mention in Hoofcare & Lameness: The Journal of Equine Foot Science.
The choice to pursue a career of farrier, an unconventional, likely unique, choice for a graduate of Andover and Brown, must be taken into account in assessing Lincoln Chafee. No other candidate claims a mention in Hoofcare & Lameness. Those who believe that presidential politics has become painfully lame would do well to give consideration to a master farrier.
In The Wizard of Oz, that parable of 19th century populist politics, the silver (in the book) slippers worn by Dorothy stood as a metaphor for Cowardly Lion William Jennings Bryan’s call for the “free coinage of silver.” (The yellow brick road, the other element of the bimetallic monetary system of the day, stands in for gold.) Those shoes were the object of desire of the Wicked Witch of the West. As Glenda later pointed out all Dorothy needed to do was click her heels together three times and they would take her wherever she desired to go.
Shoes contain mysterious powers.
The leading Republican contenders appear split between wearing the footwear of the Eastern Business Establishment, the “Leading Contenders,” and the cowboy boots of their chief rivals, the “Outsiders.” The Democratic contenders are more diverse, with the dominant (if fragile) favorite being shod in stylish but conservative Eastern Establishment fashion and her rivals’ hinting at man-of-the-people status or at a mixture of the conservative and the slightly offbeat (akin to what has been called, bobo, short for “bourgeois bohemian”). There we have it.
Want to know what the candidates really stand for?
Look no further than what they stand in.
Ignore the talking heads. Follow the shoes.
Originating at Forbes.com.
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