Presidential historian in the Washington Times

Politics is definitely a guest at the American holiday table this year, a Fox 5/The Washington Times/Rasmussen Reports survey finds. An argumentative 15 percent plan to discuss politics "with a passion" at upcoming family gatherings, while 58 percent say they expect occasional chitchat about the political news of the day. A sedate quarter of the respondents vow they will "avoid political discussions like the plague." There is some wisdom in that. Weather not politics and religion makes an ideal topic when the gang has gathered near the Christmas tree, said etiquette mavens Peggy and Peter Post, both descendants of Emily Post. The survey found that passions were more tepid when respondents were asked which presidential candidate seemed the most worthy of the White House. No one led the pack: A third were not sure which Republican candidate "seems most presidential," while, in a separate question, 29 percent could not decide on the most presidential Democrat. "The one term which consistently comes up as presidential is 'gravitas.' This implies that someone projects a level of seriousness, competence, trustworthiness and maturity. A person with gravitas is a figure not to be trifled with," said Bruce Buchanan, a presidential historian at the University of Texas at Austin. "It is interesting but understandable that respondents were not overwhelmed by presidential qualities here. None of these candidates has ever been president before. The public is still road testing them as potential occupants of the White House," Mr. Buchanan said.

Washington Times
Holiday Dinners Get Servings of Politics
(Dec. 11)