A long-time commenter on my own blog points out that NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio (born Warren Wilhelm) claims to be 6'5", but looks taller. That raises an old question about how many extremely tall men there really are. The fame of basketball stars inures us to how unusual 7-footers are, until you see a famous basketball player in a civilian setting.
Here's a random list, using heights that I have one source for. Of course, sources disagree, and there are inevitable questions about height in shoes or barefoot, at prime age or in old age, etc.
Here's an 1866 list of the height of U.S. Senators. The tallest were Edgar Cowan and Charles Sumner at a little over 6'3". Abraham Lincoln, another victim of wounded Southern amour propre, is usually said to have been 6'4".
|Bush and Fox|
Here's a graph of Presidential heights. And here's a table of winners v. losers in Presidential elections. It's not at all true that the taller candidate always wins (for example, the tallest candidate listed is Gen. Winfield Scott, loser in 1852, at 6'5"), but it's clear that men of below average height have trouble getting nominated.
Heightism is like anti-sinisterism (bias against lefthanders)—it's one of those things that people tsk-tsk about, but there's little organized opposition that fights discrimination against the short because height, like left-handedness, is distributed somewhat randomly around the population.
|Bush and Gutierrez|
This makes it harder to organize around than more powerful identity politics traits such as race, ethnicity, language, religion, sex, and sexuality.
Even where shortness is concentrated, such as among Mexican-Americans, there's no organized anti-heightist effort. Instead, tall Cubans like Carlos Gutierrez step forward to tell their fellow Republican what short Mexicans want.