That guy’s a governor? You’re kidding, right?


One thing you’ve got to hand to Mark Sanford — he  looks like a governor, even though he has generally not acted like one. This is a key to his electoral success.

I remember back before he was elected — I guess it was about this time in 2001 — he sent out Christmas cards with pictures of himself with his family. As soon as he received his, Sen. John Courson said to me (and you’ve got to imagine that booming bullfrog voice of his saying it), “Faaahhhn lookin’ family! Kennedyesque…” and said that on the basis of that picture, he expected Sanford to be our next governor.

Anyway, I’m reminded of that today, having just seen a picture of Jon Corzine for the first time (this was on the front of the WSJ). As I previously noted, unlike the national media, I don’t pay attention to state elections in other states because they have nothing to do with me. People elect their governors for their own reasons (sometimes things as superficial as how they look, although of course that’s not the only reason South Carolinians went for Sanford in 2002), reasons that I cannot infer meaningfully from afar, so I don’t try to do so.

Anyway, my reaction on seeing this guy for the first time as he was on his way out (having lost yesterday, for those of you who pay even less attention than I do), was this: “What? This guy is the governor of an actual state? You’re kidding. He looks like a college professor, and maybe not even an American college professor at that. He looks more like Leon Trotsky than a guy who could get elected in this country.” And what’s that he’s got in the back in this picture? Is that a ducktail?

I realize that standards of political pulchritude vary from state to state, that we would elect people in South Carolina that New Jerseyites (or whatever you call them) would never take a second look at, and vice versa. But if I had tried to imagine somebody who could get elected up there and not down here, I would have pictured a guy who would have looked at home hanging around in front of Satriani’s Pork Store with Tony Soprano. Yeah, I realize such stereotypes are the bane of New Jerseyians, who deserve better, but that I could have believed in. Whereas this Corzine guy … if Tony had shown up for his first therapy session and his shrink had looked like this instead of like Lorraine Bracco (and that’s the only role I could imagine a guy who looks like this filling on that show about north Jersey), he would have turned around and walked out.

No wonder this Trotsky-looking character lost. That Christie looks like a regular guy, a guy you might actually imagine being in the, uh, sanitation business.

12 thoughts on “That guy’s a governor? You’re kidding, right?

  1. Greg Flowers

    I am still scratching my head that an obviously bright guys keeps saying: “I don’t pay attention to state elections in other states because they have nothing to do with me.” I find the choices people make, particularly in regards to who their leaders are fascinating. Do you have the same lack of interest in elections or other forms of leadership selections in nations other than this one? Does the reelection of Hugo Chavez or the prospect of a government change in Britain in a few months not register on your radar because its “none of your business?” For me, not having a dog in the fight and apathy as to the results are far different things. To an extent, state elections do mirror national trends and to that extent they do effect all of us. The 2008 election, at all levels,was a watershed and its results will influence all of us. We all give priority to certain things but for a person who has made his living covering government and politics to have never seen a picture of John Corzine is, well, surprising.

    Of course Corzine spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money isn his campeigns.

  2. Brad Warthen

    Burl, that Abercrombie guy looks like a slightly younger Corzine…

    Greg, I’m a federalist. How New Jersey governs itself isn’t properly my business (or the business of the POTUS, which is why I hated to see him campaign there) unless New Jersey is deciding something that has an impact on South Carolina or its interests.

    If, the next time I have to go up that way, I find an armed roadblock on the bridge across the Delaware River, I’ll start to get concerned about who is governing N.J. Such interference in interstate commerce would concern a federalist greatly.

    Hugo Chavez messes with U.S. interests, therefore we have a legitimate interest in his doings, and are quite right to wish someone else — someone who wasn’t a cartoonish Maoist — would replace him. I care about elections all over the world, because (much to bud’s chagrin) the U.S. is inevitably affected by what sort of leadership is in place in those countries.

    The recent botched election in Afghanistan was of much greater interest to me — legitimate interest, as a citizen of this country — than whether a Democrat or a Republican held office in New Jersey.

    And now we get to the crux of my indifference. The only reason — the ONLY reason, let me repeat — that the national media cared about the NJ race was to see whether a Democrat or a Republican (or that independent — there was an independent in it, wasn’t there?) wins. They wanted to know that as a surrogate contest for determining who was up and who was down in Washington — something totally unrelated to whether NJ is well governed, but that’s what they cared about.

    I would not pay a penny to know whether a Democrat or a Republican is the governor of New Jersey. I don’t care whether the next governor of SC is a Democrat or a Republican, just as long as it’s the right person. And knowing the players here in SC, I not only have a better chance of judging whether the right person is winning or not, but as a South Carolina resident, I also have a legitimate interest.

    Finally, as to knowing what Corzine looks like: Y’all know I don’t watch TV. I think you’d be surprised to what extent you know what people look like because of TV. Think about it — have you seen a lot of pictures of Corzine in the print stories about him? I certainly haven’t. Today was the first day his visage was deemed worthy of the front page of the WSJ — and then only because when they went to press with the edition I get, they didn’t know whether he would win or lose. I doubt he made later editions.

    So basically, I guess you could say that in writing this post, I was rather perversely boasting about two forms of willful ignorance — my refusal, as a federalist, to take an unwonted interest in the affairs of other states, and my refusal to watch TV “news.”

    Of course, ignorance is ignorance, isn’t it? And I sort of relish using the blog to display my flaws. I think on some level I imagine that readers will find it endearing or something…

  3. Burl Burlingame

    In a way you’re lucky. By far the worst thing about the outcome of these two goob races is having to hear puffed-up, self-congratulatory gas from folks like Limbaugh and Hannity.

  4. Kathryn Fenner

    Corzine made a big deal of the fact that his opponent was not svelte. Corzone runs a lot of marathons and makes a big deal out of it. I guess his appearance is fair game, but it makes you sound like bad Mo Dowd….

    We all can’t be adorably bow-tied….

  5. Greg Flowers

    Ok, so North Carolina water policy is none of our business?

    I also do not watch TV news but have known what John Corzine looked like for years. Go figure.

    An honest question: what differentiates a Maoist from a communist or at least from other types of communist and please don’t say its one who follows the teachings of Mao, a little more specificity please.

  6. Sherry @ EX Marks the Spot

    I thought the same thing when I saw the picture of Corzine the first time. Not that the way a candidate looks should matter, but, on occasion, it does. TV ads can really change a voter’s perception or impression of a candidate. Unfortunately.

  7. Brad Warthen

    KB, the guy could shave. I mean, I could go around looking like this, but I don’t — and wouldn’t, were I running for office.

    And Greg, NC water policy is about SC, because it’s our water they’re messing with. Or water that WOULD be ours, if they’d let it alone and allow it to flow down to us…

  8. Kathryn Fenner

    I’d say Maoism is more about completely subjugating the Self to the State. No individualism allowed.

    Communism at its most basic level is simply ownership of the means of production by the people — “community” is the root word, of course. In practice, that means socialism — government ownership(at world, national, state or local levels) ownership or “kibbutzism”– small collectives — “communes.” You still get to pick out your own clothes and paint your living space whatever color you like.

    So Kirkman can’t be Mayor.

  9. martin

    THAT’S why they didn’t re-elect him! He didn’t wear his seatbelt and, just like Mark, didn’t mind one little bit when his driver was going 80+. Rules are for the little guy, not former Goldman execs.

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