Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,
A herd of demon sheep is thundering across the political landscape. What’s it all mean, Big Daddy?
–Curious in Coloma

Ah, welcome to California politics, where the men are men and the sheep are worried. Even the demon sheep. Those glowing, sinister eyes tell it all, but exactly what they tell is beyond me.

Presumably, all those good sheep are being led astray by the bad sheep, aka Tom Campbell.  But it’s hard to imagine the exquisitely polite, courtly Campbell – the epitome of the dutiful son that every parent dreams of – as anything approaching demon status. Then again, there’s nothing like politics to make ugly out of a man.

It’s never been difficult, however, to imagine Republicans as sheep. At least for me. I counted them frequently during many restless nights and they always put me to sleep – even on the Assembly floor during debates.

I wonder if the Republican rank-and-file like being characterized as sheep. Lions and tigers and bears – oh, sure. And elephants, of course.

But sheep?

One of my loyal readers – I have nine, and two can write – thinks the ad backfired on Carly Fiorina. Whenever rational thought and erudition poke up their ugly heads, I usually try to stamp it out, but this time I passed. I quote:
“The image of sheep implies those who cannot think for themselves but witlessly fall in line behind the demagogue du jour – not exactly the portrait all those conservative tea party-ites likely would paint for themselves.”

I like words such as “witlessly” and “demagogue du jour,” especially when they’re employed correctly, and I intend to use them now every chance I get. (They’re not my favorite words, however: That distinction belongs to “gangrene” and “bologna” and “Ursus Californicus.”)

In this day and age, who knows? In this world of reality TV and non-stop shouting passing for political debate, can anyone say there’s such a thing as bad publicity. Let’s put it this way – three years ago, if you would have been allowed to listen to a phone call between Eliot Spitzer and his she-pimp, and I was going to tell you that only one person on that call would be running for governor in 2010, would you have guessed the madame? It just goes to show ya…

But one thing perplexes me. Why is the demon sheep ad capturing so much attention? It’s like people have never seen a grown man in a stuffed animal costume before. Perhaps this is giving away a bit too much information, but where I come from, let’s just say I’ve seen a lot worse. And I’d still venture to say a sighting of Ronald Reagan, may he rest in piece, is still greater cause for alarm than some overgrown bunny rabbit who looks like he was photographed with a cheap digital camera.

Of course, the sheep has transcended political discourse and become media phenomenon. So, what does it all mean? Like all political stories, the definitive meaning will be told breathlessly and unequivocally after the election is over. If Tom Campbell is the nominee, the ad will have been a disaster. If Carly pulls it out, we may be seeing a lot more ads like the demon sheep spot. And really, would that be so bad? I’d rather watch the mischievous mutton than have to listen to any of those candidates talk any day of the week.

Want to see more stories like this? Sign up for The Roundup, the free daily newsletter about California politics from the editors of Capitol Weekly. Stay up to date on the news you need to know.

Sign up below, then look for a confirmation email in your inbox.


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: