As always, I have forgotten the source and the actual quote, but the meaning is true. "In the tropics [or perhaps it's 'in the Caribbean'], the one thing you can't be is pesado", says a character in a Cuban movie. Now, when Cubans say "the tropics" or "the Caribbean", we usually mean Cuba, for we consider ourselves metonymic, paradigmatic, exemplary. But we use that very false modesty in order to avoid being pesado.
The word means heavy, but in a figurative sense very different than "whew, that's heavy", which in Mexican countercultural Spanish was grueso (thick), or how Colombians use pesado to mean anything between uncomfortable to dangerous. In Cuban, er, tropical/Caribbean Spanish it means the opposite of simpatico -- charming, which is what one is supposed to be in the world. If you're pesado you're worse than a bore. You're a drag. You're not cool. You don't get with the program. You're square. Ay, no seas pesado, we say. Get with it.
And in politics that's important. Who's pesado and who's not. Whoever is not heavy has charisma. Barrack Obama has it in . . . I almost wrote an unintentional racist pun. Obama has charisma -- his opponents both right and left claim that's all he has. George W. Bush didn't have a lot of it but his first opponent, Gore, was definitely pesado. And the President many, myself included, admire, Jimmy Carter, was unfortunately pesado. I mean, let's turn off the lights for the sake of ecology: no seas pesado. Indeed, the whole ecology movement is cursed with being pesado. And nothing is more pesado than political correctness.
Of the current candidates, the New Jersey big guy is the most pesado in the literal sense; in the figurative, he may have a thuggish charm. Trump has the advantage of being himself and not giving a fuck, which makes him a clown, makes him as ridiculous as any popster, but spares him from being pesado. After all, he's amusing. Of the two Cubans running (alarming, ain't it?), Cruz strikes me as pesado, though others may differ, and Rubio as trying too hard to be serious, which is somewhat pesado. Establishment favorite Jeb Bush seems short on charisma. Others in the long list don't light up bright enough.
Democrats have a history of nominating pesados, one that was broken by their current frontrunner's husband, whose irresistible charm was as strong as his lack of resistance to feminine charms. Hillary is many things needed in a President. Alas, she is also pesada. And that is a big liability in an election.
Of course, this is the U.S. not "the tropics", so maybe being pesado doesn't have that much, er, weight. In my home country, the leadership ran a long time on charisma or something like it, though the current Castro, Raul, is no charmer. I used to think American celebrity worship showed the strength of the system. The division between harmless idols in entertainment and dullards in politics kept the country safe from demagoguery. But the Trump phenom pushes the envelope. Whatever else he is, he's a celeb. He entertains. And he runs for President quite nicely, thank you. Uh oh.
Most lkely, two pesados will run. (Apologies to Sanders enthusiasts, the guy is not pesado.) And maybe that's a good thing.