Some seek to preserve their dignity. Others to ensure that they seem like one of the people. However gregarious and easy they seem in public, Presidents are always highly self-consciously aware of how they appear in public and who is watching them. Those displaying this trait the least, however, have been Presidents thrust into office by fate, like Harry Truman who, as Vice President, inherited the job when Franklin D. Roosevelt died, or Gerald Ford, who did likewise when Richard Nixon resigned from office. Despite being Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces during World War II before being elected President in 1952, however, Dwight D. Eisenhower was perhaps the least self-consciousness when the cameras were around. Nowhere is this more evident than in Ike’s unabashed, unfiltered willingness to indulge his health appetite anywhere and anytime good food was around.
Among the hundreds of thousands of images of each President since the news cameras became ubiquitous by Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, relatively few show the men munching heartily away, be it at a picnic or a fundraiser.
John F. Kennedy was fanatical about never eating within the camera’s range, even during his presidential campaign – which is when most men who would become President are usually snapped with their mouths wide open.
Despite all the jokes during the early part of his presidency, Bill Clinton quickly grew conscious of this as well – and there are almost no such pictures of him eating during his second term.
But Ike? Well, Ike just kept munching away, not giving a damn who saw him. Even after his 1955 heart attack and adherence to a strictly regulated low-calorie regiment, President Eisenhower enjoyed his “lo-cal” favorite out in the open. It’s a matter of seemingly unimportant significance – yet it offers yet another human glimpse into these men too often marbleized as symbols.
- Monumental Mistake (humanevents.com)