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Tall stories and the height of ignorance in US election

Jay Mathews


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Trump recognises this unhappy truth: height is destiny. All too often, the taller candidate wins. Photo: Reuters/Leah Millis

Trump recognises this unhappy truth: height is destiny. All too often, the taller candidate wins. Photo: Reuters/Leah Millis

REUTERS

Trump recognises this unhappy truth: height is destiny. All too often, the taller candidate wins. Photo: Reuters/Leah Millis

I have to hand it to US President Donald Trump. Not only is he the rare politician to understand the most powerful, insidious but overlooked dynamic in American presidential politics, he has now become the first to fully weaponise it.

Hate? No. Height. And I feel like I'm to blame. For 32 years, I have been reporting about the effect of height on electoral success. No other journalist or political scientist ever seemed inclined to heed my research, but Trump recognises this unhappy truth: height is destiny. All too often, the taller candidate wins.

His fascination with stature has been on display over the past four years, as he has repeatedly tarred his antagonists - even those who aren't actually short - with unsubtle diminutives: "Little Marco" Rubio, "Little Katy" Tur, "Little Rocket Man" (Kim Jong-un), "Liddle Bob Corker", "Liddle Adam Schiff". (The House impeachment manager is reportedly 5ft 11in.)