Or, Frankly, Ron Paul, or Tom Tancredo, or Carol Mosley Braun or any number of politicians who are, regardless of what you think of their politics, at some base level, qualified.
It's the same reason why someone as manifestly unqualified as Sarah Palin is still considered a legitimate national figure. Or why John Edwards or even the President himself, Barack Obama, was considered a legit contender after less than a single term at the national level in the senate.
I'm reminded of the very last episode of "The Practice", where Alan Shore was finalizing his relationship with Crane, Poole, & Schmidt, ultimately leading to 5 years of Emmy glory on "Boston Legal". As Shore introduced his assistant/paramour Tara to his new boss Denny Crane, Crane said to her in typical Denny fashion: "We only hire pretty people here. Are you a pretty girl, soldier?"
It's the same reason, apparently, that Kennedy beat Nixon, or why Reagan beat Mondale, or why Clinton beat Dole.
The camera loves them.
And when the cameras love them, the press love them.
More specifically, the advertisers love them.
Yes, there is substance to many of the debates, and, yes, I do truly believe that Obama is far and away the best person for the job. But if he looked like Al Sharpton, he'd never stand a chance.
The modern presidential election has bore more than a passing resemblance to American Idol for quite some time, but it's all behind the scenes, in media focus groups who decide who can best get the American public to keep tuning into 24/7 cable news outlets to drive advertising dollars to support the revenue streams of those networks.
And let's be honest, do you REALLY want to see Dennis Kucinich on your TV every night for 4 years?
I'm just sayin'.