In The History Channel special How They Won: 7 Secrets to Winning the Presidency, Mo Rocca exercises his knowledge of presidents past and present to access some of the factors it takes to wind up in the White House.
Scientific or not, the tongue-in-cheek analysis — which involves experts ranging from psychiatrist Dr. Joyce Brothers to folksinger Oscar Brand — provides at the very least interesting fodder the week before the nation opts for President Bush or Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).
According to Rocca, a former The Daily Show “reporter,” “the secrets to winning the job of commander in chief can be boiled down to seven factors: being the common man; having a poorly behaving younger sibling; sporting good hair; engaging in professional mudslinging; choosing a great campaign theme song; owning the right dog; and money. Lots of money.
The 2004 presidential candidates are swimming in money­ and Rocca analyzes the candidates’ attempts to overcome their blue-bloodedness. He also offers some suggestions for them to create an aura of ordinary guy-ness in order to relate to nine-to-fivers and minivan drivers, as well as NASCAR fanatics.
Rocca consults the American Kennel Club on the dog breeds of choice for the Bush and Kerry clans — a Scottish terrier and German shepherd, respectively. With three brief tests, Rocca shows how the dogs will perform under the pressure of the oval office. If his results are any indication, it’ll be a shaky four years in either case.
Rocca’s twist on the undeniably and increasingly important coif consideration includes a trip to Brooklyn where two expert “hair-part theorists,” who claim the side on which the hair is split emphasizes activity on that side of the brain. So forget the economy, health care, education, war records and debates. Just check the candidates’ parts.
Mud-slinging barely takes a back seat to follicle positioning in this comedic scientific presentation. Swift boat veterans and draft-dodging accusers couldn’t hold a candle to the election of 1828, when John Quincy Adams called Andrew Jackson’s mother a whore. Imagine the spin on that one.
Somewhat less illuminating are Rocca’s theories on money. Having lots of the green stuff isn’t much of a hindrance to White House residency, as nearly every president has been wealthy.
Rocca’s theories are entertaining and amusing. This light-hearted and semi-informative special is the right ticket for what figures to be another heavy election night a week later.
How They Won: 7 Secrets to Winning the Presidency premieres on The History Channel on Oct. 26 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.