You Could Do Worse!

Frontrunners beware—perennial presidential challenger Alfred E. Neuman is looking good
Is this Alfred E. Neuman's year?

We’re talking the next President of the United States. It’s the ‘Grand Flip Flopper’ versus the ‘Guy Who Was All About Change’ who’s slow to change.

Come November—and November’s coming right up—what’s a voter to do?

Are you looking for a bright young face with a sturdy smile? A candidate who’s beholden to no one—not even himself? Someone who really will get things done—perhaps for good?

Then consider that longtime contender Alfred E. Neuman.

Neuman’s first presidential run, of many, came in 1956 against a far more formidable foe than the pair of relative lightweights in the current contest—General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Alfred E.’s campaign slogan? “You could do worse…and always have!”

It’s a joke, right? Sure, he’s appeared on virtually ever cover of Mad magazine since 1955. But does that qualify him for the Oval Office?

Perhaps so. Consider how often his name gets bandied about by politicos.

“It's often been said,” Barack Obama observed at a dinner honoring longtime New York governor and sometime presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith, “that I share the politics of Alfred E. Smith and the ears of Alfred E. Neuman.”

Presidential endorsement, July 1960.

OK, so Neuman’s got the looks to be president. But can he talk the talk?

“America is still a land of promise,” he announced, in one of his sound bite-like quotations that opens every issue of Mad, “especially during a political campaign.”

“Politicians,” he warned, “are people who get sworn in and cursed out!”

On the issues, he is to the point.

Homelessness? “Thanks to the new welfare bill, the question ‘Paper or plastic?’ now refers to many Americans’ sleeping arrangements!”

Foreign affairs? “The U.N. is a place where governments opposed to free speech demand to be heard!”

Crime? “These days, the problem with many neighborhoods is that there’re more hoods than neighbors!”

Alfred E. is a moralist as well, and a deep one. “Everyone knows the difference between right and wrong…it’s just that some people can’t make a decision!”

Alfred E. may never have served in elective office—but he knows his way around Washington.

Back in 1960, one Mad cover showed Dick Nixon, John F. Kennedy, LBJ, and Nelson Rockefeller marching behind Neuman’s presidential banner.

Neuman for Pres

Alfred E. was the first to congratulate ‘Tricky Dick’ for defeating JFK in 1960, used a magic marker to give Jimmy Carter a gap-toothed smile to match his own, and rolled out the red carpet for Reagan—except he rolled it on top of Reagan. He even pasted an ‘Alfred E. Neuman for President’ bumper sticker on Barbara Bush’s behind.

But Alfred E. Neuman is no mere inside-the-Beltway kind of guy. He’s worked in the real world in a variety of professions, as a scarecrow and a weathervane, a lion tamer and a porpoise in an aquatic park. He even worked for Batman as a substitute Robin.

Sure, some gaffes could come back to haunt him. How will the Christian right react during his current presidential bid when it gets out that Neuman once served on the executive board of experts of the ‘Wife of the Month Club’? Or when a long-ago image of Neuman as ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ complete with devil’s horns, goes viral?

But once all the smoke clears, this just could be Alfred E.’s year.