The JFK wannabes know the centrality of image to Kennedy's magic. Between Kerry's expensive haircuts and Edwards' hair-sprayed bangs, my guess is that no presidential ticket in the history of the planet has cared so much about personal grooming. When the ticketmates travel together, there will probably be stiff competition for the mirror and hair products. Teresa herself has gotten into the act, recently pronouncing herself "sexy" -- an odd boast for someone auditioning for a job that usually involves reading to schoolchildren.
The Camelot image at the time depended on the media's willingness to suspend its disbelief, which has never quite occurred since. By picking media darling Edwards, Kerry is saying "Bring it on" -- the press adulation, that is. He is hoping callow will play much better in the case of Edwards than it did with Dan Quayle, whose youth, inexperience and looks were used against him. Suddenly those same qualities will be transformed into "freshness" and "glamour" for much of the press corps.
But it is a more complicated media age than the early 1960s. It won't so easily be forgotten that Kerry just yesterday said readiness to be president was his chief criterion for his VP selection -- which would rank Edwards well behind Dick Gephardt. Nor will all of Edwards' fulsome rhetoric about his absolute commitment to positive campaigning during the primaries be forgotten when he becomes Kerry's attack dog. As Kerry and Edwards strain toward a new Camelot, too much of the ambition and phoniness might show for them to achieve that exalted state.
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