John McCaslin

Forget Iowa and New Hampshire, ignore South Carolina and Florida yesterday, and pay no mind to Super Tuesday. In fact, why not skip the increasingly pointless Democratic and Republican national conventions?

It's become apparent nine months before Election Day that the 2008 presidential election will pit Democrat Barack Obama against Republican Mitt Romney. How so?

We've just finished reading Los Angeles lawyer/syndicated columnist Ben Shapiro's new book, "Project President: Bad Hair & Botox on the Road to the White House," which examines what it really takes — the right image — to win the White House.

In the chapter "The Long and Short of It," Mr. Shapiro writes that size does matter. He reveals why the taller candidate, from the beginning of American history, has almost always won the presidency. Taller people have a wide variety of advantages in politics, something to do with the fact that being tall breeds high self-esteem and leadership qualities.

Take George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Two of this country's greatest presidents were a good head taller than the average American patriot and Union soldier — the latter barely 5 feet, 8 inches tall.

As for today, Mr. Obama of Illinois stands at almost 6 feet, 2 inches. And Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is exactly 6-feet-2. Consider, at the same time, that Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton measures 5-feet-6, while Republican John McCain is 5-feet-7.

As for Jimmy Carter, Mr. Shapiro says he "got lucky in 1976. For the first time since William McKinley in 1896, Carter won the presidency as the shorter, nonincumbent candidate."

And finally, regarding George W. Bush defeating Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 — 6-feet-1 and 6-feet-4, respectively — now you know why the president wears cowboy boots.

Hold still, Smokey

Democratic National Committee blogger Michael Link got a kick out of Republican presidential candidate John McCain saying he is "humbled" by the recent endorsement from former Montana Sen. Conrad Burns.

After all, it was the Arizona senator who took to the Senate floor "to mercilessly ridicule" his fellow Republican for tucking a $1 million earmark into a spending bill to study the DNA of Montana's bears.

"One can only imagine and conjure up an idea as to how this might be used," mocked Mr. McCain. "Approach a bear: 'That bear cub over there claims that you're his father and we need to take your DNA.' Approach another bear: 'Two hikers had their food stolen by a bear, and we think it is you. We have to get the DNA.' "

For the record

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

Be the first to read John McCaslin's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.