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It is a phenomenon on which I have commented before, that of the strange fetish American politicians have for exposing themselves in public.  However, unlike the hilarious Weiner I mean, more shirtless than willie waggling budgie smuggler.

The picture above came from Wonkette, an excellently gossipy Washington political blog site.  It shows Ron Paul enjoying time out with his grandchild.  Of course it has been released to boost his campaign, designed to show a caring kindly grandfatherly image, but one equally crafted to emphasise that despite the years ol’ Ron still has some of what it takes, and that he has the strength to finish the race.

I was reminded of the 1980 campaign, where much was being made of Ronnie Reagan’s advanced age, implying that good as he might be, he might not have the physical strength to endure the rigors of office.  The slurs were beginning to have an effect until some still shots of Ronnie, taken on a short break, were “leaked” to the press.  These showed him at his ranch wielding an axe chopping wood.  He looked way younger than his 69 years and in a moment the doubters were silenced.  And in later years Ronnie and Nancy showed off again, frolicking in the surf to possibly less effect.

Ronnie and Nancy

But Ronnie was hardly alone in aiming to show the body beautiful, the political sound mind in the athlete’s sound body, the firm rippling flesh, as a veritable temple, all together being the epitome of the iron man of the Frontier.  Here is just a swift selection, and some, I am sure you might agree were more successful than others


Strange for a man so very private and cerebral.

Clinton.  It’s not a good look, for either of them really.

Kennedy.  A classic shot.

And another Kennedy who really should have used that gym.

And whilst it will probably not catch on in Britain, where political flesh exposed to the sun once a year has the look and consistency of ripe stilton, there are other countries where the all American outdoors frontier look is still a vote winner.  I leave you with Mr Putin, also running in 2012.

Copyright David Macadam 2011