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The way you look

Your appearance can have a powerful effect on your audience. Politicians, perhaps more than anyone else, are very much aware of this. How many times have you seen a candidate appear on television in shirt sleeves, often with his collar unbuttoned and his tie loosened? President Jimmy Carter liked to wear a sweater when he spoke to the nation from the oval office. Ronald Reagan loved to be seen wearing boots, jeans, and a western-style hat. These modes of appearance are all calculated to give audiences certain impressions. If they seem too contrived they can backfire. Remember Michael Dukakis in the tanker's helmet?

I thought George Bush looked out of character in shirt sleeves. To me, he seems like a coat-and-tie man. Every time Jimmy Carter showed up on TV trying to look like my next-door neighbor, he surrendered some of the aura that surrounds a president. Reagan, on the other hand, always looked natural in his western hat, but I suppose that's because I had seen him in so many western movies.


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