Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,

“I understand Governor Schwarzenegger dyes his hair and wears lifts in his
shoes. What do you think of a leader who seems to be so obsessed with his
personal appearance? I know that you were never overly concerned with your
personal image.”

–Fashion Police

Dear Fashion Police –

Whether we like it or not, politics has gone Hollywood.
Your governor comes from the land of glitz and glamour, a place where it
really doesn’t matter what’s inside the package if you can’t entice people
to open it in the first place. That’s why you’ve got to break out the glossy
wrapping paper, ribbon, hair dye and lifts on occasion. After all, it’s a
hard to be taken seriously if the best you can do is look a man in the
Adam’s apple.

Now, the governor isn’t the only one who is focused on his own personal
appearance. It seems to Big Daddy that politicians are spending more and
more time checking themselves out in the mirror than they are reading the
fantastic bills they’re authoring. I understand you folks live in the world
of 24-hour cable and Internet news, but really, how many monochromatic
suit-shirt-and-tie combinations does one assemblyman need? And am I the only
one who is concerned about these female senators who wear plants the size of Audrey II on their lapels?

We may not have had video bloggers and CNN when Big Daddy was orchestrating
things in the Capitol, but in those days, remember, local television
stations actually used to cover the place on a regular basis. Television
stations from San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego all had regular
bureaus and reporters here in Sacramento. As a result, you had quite a few
folks who spent a little extra time applying the Brylcreem in the morning.

Truth be told, Big Daddy was, from time to time, concerned about his
appearance. Hell, I had to be back in 1969 and 1970, when I was running for
governor against Mr. General Electric Theater himself, incumbent Governor
Ronald Reagan. Check out a few photos of me during that campaign. I do need
to point out here, because I’ve been asked about it so often, that former
Governor Gray Davis did not, to my knowledge, use my hair style from that
campaign as a model for his own perfect coif.

You can’t dismiss a man or a woman as lacking guts, grit, gumption and
brains solely because they look too pretty or their teeth are too white. You
also can’t assume a politician isn’t bright enough to find their own office
solely because they dress as if they’ve slept in their car for a week. No
one would ever accuse John Burton and John Vasconcellos of being light in
the gray-matter department, even though both are members of the Capitol’s
all-time, Most Likely to be Confused for a Reporter caucus because of their
lack of sartorial splendor.

I doubt the governor is nearly as obsessed with his appearance as much as
the media is obsessed with the governor’s appearance. If you want
politicians to put substance over style, it seems to me the media and the
voters have to first require it of themselves.

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