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Politics

July 1, 2008

And Lefties Shall Inherit the Earth

Good news for Ned Flanders (and ten percent of the population)—both Barack Obama and John McCain are lefties. That's unlikely, obviously, but what struck us as even more strange is the fact that four of the past six presidents have been left-handed. Yes, Clinton, Reagan, Bush 41 and Ford all were all southpaws. So were a number of other figures in recent presidential politics, such as Al Gore, Bob Dole, John Edwards, Bill Bradley, Ross Perot and Mike Bloomberg.

Leftorium
What's going on here? Has an elaborate plot for lefty dominance been hatched in the back room of Flanders's Leftorium? Perhaps, but a New York Sun piece on the phenomenon offers another explanation: bilateral brain function, which allows lefties to "visualize problems more broadly and with more complexity." The piece notes that such ability "could relate to the social and interactive skills needed to be successful in politics."

It also seems that visualizing complex problems is a helpful skill for a President, which may explain a particularly embarrassing fact for right-handed people (full disclosure: this writer included)—the two most recent righty presidents are Dubya and Carter, widely considered to be the least successful of the post-Watergate administrations (though, in fairness, it might be too soon to make that call on Bush 43). Maybe lefties are really some kind of neurological aristocracy, and we're all just starting to realize it.

Or maybe the preponderance of presidential southpaws is just a case of regression to the mean. Only two presidents, Garfield and Truman, were known to be left-handed prior to 1974. That's two of 37, which is considerably less than ten percent. A comeback may be in store for northpaws yet.







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