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Tall and Short

From left, Moscow-appointed head of Kherson Region Vladimir Saldo, Moscow-appointed head of Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Denis Pushilin, leader of self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Leonid Pasechnik, leader of self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic pose for a photo during a ceremony to sign the treaties for four regions of Ukraine to join Russia, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. The signing of the treaties making the four regions part of Russia follows the completion of the Kremlin-orchestrated referendums.” (Dmitry Astakhov, Sputnik, Government Pool Photo via AP)

Why is it no surprise to me that Vladimir Putin is so much shorter than his political lieutenants? Actually, he is 5 feet 7 inches (170 cm), which is only an inch shorter than the mean height of men around the world. (For the record, I myself am 5 feet 8 inches, the average height.)

Well, that isn’t very short after all. But then look at the height of all the U.S. Presidents and presidential candidates since FDR:

2020Joe Biden5 ft 11+1⁄2 in182 cmDonald Trump6 ft 3 in191 cm3+1⁄2 in9 cm
2016Donald Trump6 ft 3 in191 cmHillary Clinton5 ft 5 in165 cm10 in25 cm
2012Barack Obama6 ft 1+1⁄2 in187 cmMitt Romney6 ft 1+1⁄2 in187 cm0 in0 cm
2008Barack Obama6 ft 1+1⁄2 in187 cmJohn McCain5 ft 9 in175 cm4+1⁄2 in11 cm
2004George W. Bush5 ft 11+1⁄2 in182 cmJohn Kerry6 ft 4 in193 cm4+1⁄2 in11 cm
2000George W. Bush5 ft 11+1⁄2 in182 cmAl Gore6 ft 1 in185 cm1+1⁄2 in4 cm
1996Bill Clinton6 ft 2+1⁄2 in189 cmBob Dole6 ft 1+1⁄2 in187 cm1 in3 cm
1992Bill Clinton6 ft 2+1⁄2 in189 cmGeorge H. W. Bush6 ft 2 in188 cm1⁄2 in1 cm
1988George H. W. Bush6 ft 2 in188 cmMichael Dukakis5 ft 8 in173 cm6 in15 cm
1984Ronald Reagan6 ft 1 in185 cmWalter Mondale5 ft 11 in180 cm2 in5 cm
1980Ronald Reagan6 ft 1 in185 cmJimmy Carter5 ft 9+1⁄2 in177 cm3+1⁄2 in9 cm
1976Jimmy Carter5 ft 9+1⁄2 in177 cmGerald Ford6 ft 0 in183 cm2+1⁄2 in6 cm
1972Richard Nixon5 ft 11+1⁄2 in182 cmGeorge McGovern6 ft 1 in185 cm1+1⁄2 in4 cm
1968Richard Nixon5 ft 11+1⁄2 in182 cmHubert Humphrey5 ft 11 in180 cm1⁄2 in1 cm
1964Lyndon B. Johnson6 ft 3+1⁄2 in192 cmBarry Goldwater5 ft 11 in180 cm4+1⁄2 in11 cm
1960John F. Kennedy6 ft 1 in185 cmRichard Nixon5 ft 11+1⁄2 in182 cm1+1⁄2 in4 cm
1956Dwight D. Eisenhower5 ft 10+1⁄2 in179 cmAdlai Stevenson II5 ft 10 in178 cm1⁄2 in1 cm
1952Dwight D. Eisenhower5 ft 10+1⁄2 in179 cmAdlai Stevenson II5 ft 10 in178 cm1⁄2 in1 cm
1948Harry S. Truman5 ft 9 in175 cmThomas Dewey5 ft 8 in173 cm1 in3 cm
1944Franklin D. Roosevelt6 ft 2 in188 cmThomas Dewey5 ft 8 in173 cm6 in15 cm

I was shocked to find that the only times in recent history that the shorter candidate won was when Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford; George W. Bush beat John Kerry and Al Gore; and Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump.

Americans seem to vote for the taller candidate. Why is that? Do we think that taller candidates are more imposing? Is that, perhaps, why we have never had a woman in the White House? Perhaps one of the reasons Hillary Clinton lost to the man from Mar-a-Lardo is that she is a full ten inches shorter than him.

The only candidate who was my height was Michael Dukakis, who was trounced by George H. W. Bush. And that was a pretty ignominious defeat, so you can bet that I’m not tempted to run for anything. (Though there are not a few things I would run from.)