Dick Cheney is one of the few politicians who appears to really not care what people think of him. While some accuse other politicians of doing “whatever it takes to get elected,” Cheney has shown a complete lack of interest in polls. He certainly has never made any attempt to be beloved or popular. He barely even uses rhetoric, preferring to growl his statements with barely concealed hostility. He looks like a hunched over little man, with a sideways smirk perpetually plastered on his face.
In other words, Cheney is not charismatic. He is, in fact, anti-charismatic. But, unlike Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore, and Martha Coakley, Dick Cheney knows he is anti-charismatic, and he has embraced it. He’s made it part of his image, to be the guy who doesn’t want to lead huge crowds, who doesn’t make big speeches, who prefers to be a lone, tough old bastard. He has worked his anti-charisma to its fullest, and has probably come further in understanding the nature of this phenomenon than any other anti-charismatic individual save Nixon. And Nixon’s success was, I think, more good luck than recognition of his own anti-charisma.
The worst thing you can do if you’re an anti-charismatic person is try to something exciting and awesome and sexy like charismatic people are always doing. Hillary Clinton tries to make grand speeches and gestures like Obama does, and it comes across as irritating. Dick Cheney never attempts soaring rhetoric, and it’s a good idea.
Make no mistake; even when you embrace anti-charisma, it’s still no way to stop a true charismatic person in an election. Barack Obama (or Sarah Palin) would utterly defeat Cheney in a political campaign. But what embracing his anti-charismatic nature does for Cheney is grant him a remarkable confidence. Whereas Mrs. Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore, Martha Coakley and even, to an extent, Nixon, were always making “gaffes” or being “boring” for reasons they could never figure out, Cheney seems to understand that he is never going to be personally appealing, and has simply said “To hell with this; I’ll be as unlikable as I can, and say what I want.”