That's because the super-flat senators are the sartorial subjects of renowned paper doll artist Tom Tierney, who casts the candidates and their spouses as ready-to-dress paper people, each with about half a dozen wardrobe changes (Oddly, Barack Obama's daughters Malia and Natasha are included -- each with a single cold-weather outfit -- but John McCain's brood of seven is absent).
Despite the kitsch factor, the books stand on their own (as do the senators, with the proper folding and a drop of glue) as miniature style archives for both men, by depicting them in historically accurate garb. "History" going about as far back as their respective wedding days: McCain in white tie and black peak lapel tailcoat for his 1980 nuptials to Cindy Hensley, and Obama in a black tuxedo with satin peak lapels for his 1992 "I do" to Michelle Robinson. The books wind through looks from public appearances early this year, such as McCain's white-and-blue check button-front shirt, red baseball cap and khaki-colored bullet-proof vest for a visit to Baghdad in April, and Obama's "lightweight 'Western' suit and a regional hat" from a February whistle-stop in Texas.
Dover Publications has published 20 presidential paper doll books in the past, but President Chris Kuppig said these are the first of Tierney's more than 150 Dover titles to feature presumptive nominees.
The hard-core follower of fashion will appreciate Tierney's level of detail on the spousal side: Michelle Obama in a pink silk Azzedine Alaïa sheath, worn with pearls, pumps and a studded belt when Obama announced his delegate win, and the fitted, full-length black gown of arabesque-patterned net lace over flesh-toned silk with a dropped portrait neckline that Cindy McCain wore to a 2005 benefit gala.
In addition to color drawings of both men, their wives and wardrobes, the books include brief biographies as well as election-night score cards and the promise of an expanded inaugural edition for the eventual victor.
Just one word of caution: Be careful when cutting the candidates from their card stock; no one wants a hanging chad and a wardrobe malfunction.
McCain Paper Dolls and Obama Paper Dolls, each $7.99, available at www.amazon.com.