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At Least His Hair Doesn't Look Like It Was Colored With Crayola Burnt Orange Crayons

So the New York Times Sunday magazine did a big story on our very own Mark Warner and there the ex-guv was, smiling rather too Botoxically on the cover, with way too much tooth showing. But the saving grace was that his skin somehow seemed more orange than his hair, which I guess is a step in the right direction. So either Warner has finally got his chemicals working better in the hair department, or the Times is having some unusual color registration issues over in what my grandparents used to call the rotogravure department.

Anyway, the piece, engagingly written by Matt Bai, was headlined "The Anti-HIllary?" and the whole thing centered around how Warner is better positioned than any other Democrat to be the one the party turns to in the event that they come to their senses and realize that Hillary Clinton is one of the most widely loathed Americans and is therefore about as likely to be elected president as Vincent Orange.

But the bottom line of the lengthy piece is that the Dems have constructed their primary process to make it almost impossible for an outsider--that is, for someone other than the party elite's favorite--to knock off the presumptive nominee. And while Warner is better equipped than the other challengers to raise money and to appeal to the vast body of centrist Americans who would never, ever cast a ballot for Mrs. Clinton, he basically has no chance against the senator "from" New York because she's got 91 trillion dollars in her campaign accounts and she's put the fear of a wrathful, scorned wife into lots of the Democratic moneybags types, and the voters who come out in primaries are generally the true believer hard core, who haven't the foggiest notion just how wacky the rest of America thinks they are.

Warner comes off in the story as smart, authentically centrist, genuinely committed to working with the other party, dedicated to his winning formula of pro-guns, neither here nor there on abortion, and comfortable with people of faith, even as he is also Mr. High Tech and a friend of big business. It's the classic, John McCain-ish tale of the guy who could do exceedingly well in the general election, but is unlikely to get past the zealots who tend to be most active in the primaries.

If you'll recall, Mr. John Kerry was chosen as the candidate last time around on the always-odd theory that he was the electable one. (Ah, right, that great middle American passion for extremely rich, emotionally detached patrician ex-antiwar protestors from Massachusetts.) Warner, however, is culturally bilingual; as much as we in the clueless media derided Warner for sucking up to the NASCAR crowd during his gubernatorial campaign, it worked, not merely because he sponsored a car at the races, but because he had spent years in rural Virginia, actually arranging for jobs and job training, actually delivering to people in need.

Sure, he's really a Connecticut Yankee and a kid who went to GW and fell in love with politics, but he adopted Virginia and did so without the phoniness that usually accompanies such a move.

Now, if he can only get over the transparently overcautious way he answers questions and relates to reporters. Bai is reporter #478 in the series of campaign correspondents who gets all hung up on the way Warner takes questions, which is to say he listens intently, then goes full stop and lets you see the gears cranking away inside his head as he mulls the potential damage a particular answer might cause, and then he formulates the perfect bit of phrasing that fails to satisfy the questioner. This has a corrosive effect on any writer's--or any person's--ability to view Warner as authentic. Contrast with the McCain approach, or even the Howard Dean, or even the Joe Biden, for goodness' sake.

Anyway, there he is, Mark Warner, your new Anti-Hillary. Now with less orange.

By Marc Fisher |  March 13, 2006; 7:32 AM ET
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Comments

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Hair color is so important these days when it comes to US politics where form trumphs over substance.

I would prefer a bald palate with some good sense, a respect for civil liberties and the Constitution, an ability to know and speak the truth, and a working brain rather then a fine head of hair.

One Man's Opinion

Richard Katz

Posted by: Richard Katz | March 13, 2006 8:52 AM

Young George was very widely loathed by the last election, didn't hurt him any. I think you're exaggerating Hillary's unelectability. I do agree she's probably not their most electable candidate.
A lot of people think the Republicans are wacky and extreme too.

Posted by: mike g | March 13, 2006 8:52 AM

Just a caution - if you don't like Hillary, PLEASE don't go looking for an anti-Hillary just to vote against her! Yep - couldn't agree more that many people just can't stand the woman and not necessarily because of her politics. Personally, although I think she is very smart and has some great ideas, she is going about this posturing for the prez nomination thing all wrong. She's being way too middle-of-the-road. I'm not a frequent enough vistor to this site to know which way the readership leans but I'd be really interested in hearing if anyone supports another Edwards run at it? Good ideas, seemingly genuine motives - and he's spent his off time trying to really make a difference to the impoverished. What about an Edwards-Obama ticket??

Posted by: maggie | March 13, 2006 8:55 AM

But I have to agree with the Times Article about the current process being used by our political parties to determine who we get to vote for at the poles.

We need a polticial process that proves better qualified candidates from both parties to choose from on election day.

Posted by: Richard Katz | March 13, 2006 8:58 AM

The problem with Edwards is the same problem that Bush's VP Potatoe Head had.

He is just to fluffy for me.

Golly gee wiss.

Posted by: Richard Katz | March 13, 2006 9:00 AM

It seems the prospective way-in-advance front-runner almost always is a disappointment. Dukakis, Clinton and Kerry were virtually invisible in the two years before their respective primary battles in '88, '92 and '04. Anyone remember the presumptive nominees in those years before the voters actually hit the ballot boxes? I don't. It's true that in '88 and '92 we didn't have instant news delivered right to your desktop. But we did in '04, and no one saw Kerry's New Hampshire win coming.

Posted by: Phil | March 13, 2006 9:04 AM

Not everyone thinks Hilary's unelectable. Given what a "fabulous" job men have been doing in the Presidential position lo these many years, Hilary seems a very good candidate indeed. Now, while I may not agree with the little I know about her personally, I do believe she will do better than the men have done, and she's got Bill to host the parties, so that's a whole other level of interest for the American people. Just think of what Bill could do for the events at the White House!
(But I wouldn't vote for Condeleeza just because she's a woman - too Bushie for my tastes.)
And I have nothing in particular against Warner, although he is quite botoxy. As for the orange, remember, color doesn't really matter, unless your gray or green or blue, and then you have bigger problems than just color.
In response to the Obama suggestion, I could go for that too.
Let's all just keep an open mind folks!

Posted by: Denise Thompson | March 13, 2006 9:21 AM

I say let Obama get a couple of senate terms, then let him run as his own man in 2016.

Posted by: Eric | March 13, 2006 9:35 AM

I wouldn't have thought it was possible, but the clear loathing the elite media has for Hillary Clinton almost makes me want her to win. Remember how the country drove Sally Quinn and the rest of the Posties insane with rage when we refused to embrace well-bred Washington social pillar Kenneth Starr and instead gravitated toward the white-trash upstart Bill Clinton? Good times, in retrospect.

Posted by: cminus | March 13, 2006 9:51 AM

No Hillary. Simple reason. Do we really want to enter our third decade of two family rule? Maybe we can have Jeb succeed her?

We laugh at third world countries for that kind of dynasticism. Peronistas anyone?

Posted by: Unh | March 13, 2006 9:57 AM

You/another reporter criticize Warner because "he listens intently, then goes full stop and lets you see the gears cranking away inside his head as he mulls the potential damage a particular answer might cause, and then he formulates the perfect bit of phrasing that fails to satisfy the questioner. This has a corrosive effect on any writer's--or any person's--ability to view Warner as authentic. Contrast with the McCain approach, or even the Howard Dean, or even the Joe Biden, for goodness' sake."

Geez, the shoot-first-aim-later verbal attitude of McCain and Dean has really served them well, hasn't it? McCain is still sucking up to Bush 6 years later and Dean is gone after his Scream. D'oh!

And I'd much rather have a President who thinks rather than one who fumblingly tries to remember what his handlers have told him, fails completely and gives a totally irrelevant answer as does GWB. You desperately need to spend some time watching clips of Warner and Bush side-by-side answering questions before you characterize Warner's response as a "perfect bit of phrasing that fails to satisfy the questioner." You can characterize the typical Bush response as a mangled conglomeration of third-grade English that totally avoids the question. Warner is worse?

And Bush is authentic? Authentic in the sense that he's not fit to govern and is merely a puppet of the power-mad yahoos around him, yes.

This criticism of Warner definitely falls into the "spurious ramblings" component of this column. And who the heck is Bai reporter #478? For whom does he work? The WSJ? Hey, I know call me "Nguyen reporter #8012" and quote what I said above for your next column!

Finally, money talks but so do primaries. Let's be a little less eager to crown HRC 2 years early.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | March 13, 2006 10:02 AM

I did my own research: Matt Bai has a NYT column at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/12/magazine/312bwarner.html?ei=5070&en=26000c1450100c41&ex=1142398800&pagewanted=all

This is an excellent article that says a lot more about Warner v. HRC than all of today's WaPo articles put together. It also defines Warner both good and bad.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | March 13, 2006 10:20 AM


One would hope that with the blatant hubris that is attempting to run our land and everyone else's, a 'journalist' could take the high road and write, whatever side, without stupid comments about Mark Warner's appearance. Since our culture is obsessed with looks, couldn't you have given us an article devoid of mockery?

Posted by: Shirley Venard | March 13, 2006 10:41 AM


PS---Being unfamiliar with your column, I NOW realize you author "columns you wouldn't dare print". Sorry, I thought you were a journalist. No wonder statesmen (if there are any left) choose not to run knowing jokesters are going to attack their morning toilet time.

Posted by: shirley Venard | March 13, 2006 10:45 AM

"So the New York Times Sunday magazine did a big story on our very own Mark Warner" Gosh, Marc, I didn't know you had moved to Virginia. Welcome to the Old Dominion! You've pointed out the problems and deficiencies of our state so often that I felt sure you would no more consider living in Virginia than you would sending your kids to public school in D.C.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 13, 2006 10:51 AM

This WashPost reader gained the impression through 4 years that Gov Mark Warner was a a indefatigable and relentlessly positive negotiator. His end-of-term popularity was due to his ability to generate genuine improvments in VA. He was able to return to the table from setbacks because he dissed neither competitors nor his Republican opponents. Hokey, corny, and the same message as delivered by his protege, Gov Kaine in HIS response to W's State of the Union address. Stick-to-itiveness needn't be blind stubborneess. Intelligence and the goals do matter.

(Of course, massive post 9/11 Federal military and security-related spending in VA didn't hurt Warner's success, either.)

Posted by: Harry Travis | March 13, 2006 11:28 AM

After making it through that deep analysis of Warner's skin and hair coloring issues, I would disagree with the central point of the article:

"...[that] the vast body of centrist Americans who would never, ever cast a ballot for Mrs. Clinton."

As a registered Rebublican (and someone who has actually voted for Bush three times--twice as governor and once for President) I am not at all predisposed to hating Hilary. In fact, I see her as a reasonable continuation of the centrist Democratic tradition in the vein of both Bill Clinton and Joe Lieberman (who is in my mind one of the most consistently underrated politicians in Washington--at least in terms of overall reasonableness).

So, in a nutshell, don't forget that it's 2006. Hilary is as viable as anyone. The new President won't take office for a little less than 3 years.

Like the long-term economic forecasts by the CBO, long-term Presidential Politics Punditry is a dicey proposition and usually only characterized by the simple fact that you know it will be wrong.

Posted by: AW | March 13, 2006 11:31 AM

For years we have heard the Republicans bleating about Hillary, Hillary, Hillary, like a broken record (remember those?). Now, Dems are assumed to be just as tunnel-visioned about her. Where is the evidence?

Posted by: Merriam Brown | March 13, 2006 11:59 AM

I never thought I'd see the day when someone such as Warner would be labeled "pro-gun". He was, at best, neutral on guns, only because he knew he would never get any traction in the GA for any of his anti-gun proposals and didn't want to expend political capital on a losing issue.

Posted by: Stick | March 13, 2006 12:38 PM

I get this sudden, unexplainable urge to snicker when I here the name Hillary Clinton and the word President in the same sentence. I can hear her campaign slogan now, "I'll do for America what I did to New York!" It looks like another season of Whitewater and Monica in the headlines cannot be avoided.

Posted by: Pat | March 13, 2006 12:50 PM

I'd hardly call the proposals to keep guns out of recreation centers and bars (where somebody might not be thinking rationally) as being "anti-gun." Those are more like pro-sanity efforts. Most of what Warner did to achieve his level of popularity was only what the majority of the state consider to be just simple common sense.

I'm not a Hillary fan, but what is it that she "...did to New York"? NY doesn't seem any better or worse off than before her. Unless you want to blame the WTC disaster on her.

Posted by: Vienna Voter | March 13, 2006 1:20 PM

I'd be fine w/ a Warner candidacy (and presidency), but I'm not so sure that Hillary should be regarded as the anti-Christ. I agree that she has some problems as a campaigner (she can sound like a schoolmarm or, worse, a nag), but so much is up the air. We seem to be in the midst of a very volatile period. Lots depends on what happens w/ regard to Iraq and other issues between now and then. If Iraq has become an even worse disaster and/or the Bush administration keeps screwing up in other ways, any Democrat is going to look pretty good.

Posted by: TR | March 13, 2006 1:28 PM

I often hear that Hillary has been popular in New York--that she has won over the upstate voters least likely to be inclined to vote for her and she is almost certain to be re-elected. I'm interested, too, in what she "has done to New York."

Posted by: TR | March 13, 2006 1:30 PM

That's just it... What did she do for New Yorkers? I've actually gained respect for her for not attempting to use the WTC incident to bolster her image.

Posted by: Pat | March 13, 2006 1:37 PM

Let me get this straight.

Hillary is odds on favorite to get the Democratic '08 presidential nomination (today.

Hillary is the odds on favorite to get reelected as one of New York's senators to the point that the republican's have not been able to find anyone legitimate to run against her. (Those of us in Chicago's 19th ward know that our own lifetime Republican political "sacrificial lamb" Ray Wardingly is not availabe this year because dysfunctional Illinois Republicans have him running against some invincible Democratic candidate...and he is not a New York resident)

Hillary and John McCain are always mentioned as being the only candidates viable to run in '08 if Pat Fitzgerald manages to indict the Vice President and enough of the Republican congressional leadership.

Hillary is so formidable that Karl Rove started a "slam Hillary campaign" that continually slips negative images into the press and got published a RNC coordinated book about her- right after the last presidential and the Republicans only had the "seven dwarfs" available to run in 2008. What other Democrat get's that level of attention

Yet this opinion piece asserts that that "Hillary Clinton is one of the most widely loathed Americans and is therefore about as likely to be elected president as Vincent Orange."


I am no Hillary chearleader, but there is a big disconnect here. Or is the author part of the aforementioned "slam Hillary" campaign. With the overwhelming level of incompetence in the White House, I am so sick of Republican PR orchestration.

Posted by: zippy | March 13, 2006 1:50 PM

Now Zippy don't blame Marc.

He is dehydrated.

Marc:
With the Republicans in charge of all our Gov'ts, best stock up on more bottled water.


Just having Fun now,
Richard Katz

Posted by: Richard Katz | March 13, 2006 2:10 PM

Public service is not a Republican strong point lately.

Posted by: Richard Katz | March 13, 2006 2:22 PM

The Republicans are servicing the public.
If you know what I mean.


Just One Man's Opinion
Anyone agree?

Posted by: Richard Katz | March 13, 2006 2:25 PM

I'd like to know what Hillary "did to NY", too...as a long time NY resident who was there when she got elected, I know many allegedly staunch Republican wives who quietly voted for Hillary and didn't necessarily let their hubbies know of their choice - it was great fun hearing those stories! And I have not heard any Hillary bashing from these people. (Although they wouldn't dare go as far as endorsing her for Prez...would they??)

Posted by: maggie | March 13, 2006 2:38 PM

"...the whole thing centered around how Warner is better positioned than any other Democrat to be the one the party turns to in the event that they come to their senses..."

It's either "centered on" or "revolved around," Marc. Sorry, but this is my least favorite solecism now.

Posted by: Lindemann | March 13, 2006 2:43 PM

cminus said: I wouldn't have thought it was possible, but the clear loathing the elite media has for Hillary Clinton almost makes me want her to win.


Statements like this crack me up because the right-wingers (especially bloggers) say exactly the opposite---that Hillary is the darling of the MSM. And, according to them, she shares that honor w/ pretty much all Democrats.

It's funny how many people seem to think that whatever appears in the press should be consistent w/ their views and that anything that isn't reflects bias.

Posted by: TR | March 13, 2006 2:47 PM

"the voters who come out in primaries are generally the true believer hard core, who haven't the foggiest notion just how wacky the rest of America thinks they are."

Wacky? Compared to what? Inside-the-beltway asshole elitist journalists like Marc Fisher?

Posted by: Billmon | March 13, 2006 3:32 PM

Living in Northern Virginia since 1991, and formerly living in NYC for 37 years, and so somewhat familiar with NY politics and Virginia politics, I would suggest the following be considered: Senators make terrible Presential candidates, Governors make excellent Presidential candidates - especially Governors that were successful in a state where his/her party was the minority by a significant margin.

Warner was able to persuade a very conservative Virginia General Assembly that new sources of funding were needed for health, education and safety priorities. He was able, for example, to get the General Assembly to raise cigarette taxes from the absurdly low 2.5 cents per pack to (first) 20 cents per pack and now 30 cents per pack - still quite low by any states' standards, but not an easy accomplishment in a tobacco state, especially one where your party is a significant minority.

And Warner also got the Virginia General Assembly to cap the huge state budget burden imposed by former (Republican) Governor Gilmore's "repeal" of Virginia's car tax, which wasn't actually repealed by Gilmore but which instead was just a switch by Gilmore of the source of the funding "bucket" - so now, local Virginia counties (who actually collect the car tax for county use/needs) get the part of the car tax not paid directly by individuals from the State Treasury. And that was running close to $1 BILLION per fiscal year in new state obligations created by Gilmore, two years ago. So, Warner persuaded the General Assembly to cap this "repeal" at about $950 Million per Fiscal Year, along with creating enough new funding sources that Virginia's $1.2 Billion deficit inherited by Warner from Gilmore is now a surplus of more than $400 Million for the current fiscal year. And THAT is being an executive, a leader.

So, let HRC remain a Senator, where she has shown herself to be quite capable as a law-maker. But let's push for a capable, proven executive to become President, someone like Mark Warner.

Posted by: NicktheGreek | March 13, 2006 3:38 PM

Mark Warner isn't the anti-Hillary. He's the other Hillary.

They are both DLC moderates positioned specifically to keep the Democratic Party voters from selecting a candidate who actually cares about them.

Posted by: Matt | March 13, 2006 3:38 PM


Statements like this crack me up because the right-wingers (especially bloggers) say exactly the opposite---that Hillary is the darling of the MSM.


Well, if "one of the most widely loathed Americans" is Marc Fisher-speak for "darling," let's just say it's a damn good thing he's not married to me. It sounds pretty clear to me what he thinks of her, even though I can't claim to ascend to the lofty status of a right-wing blogger.

Posted by: cminus | March 13, 2006 3:41 PM

Damn, can't italicize. Silly primitive interface.

The opening paragraph in the preceeding comment was a quote from TR; presumably not the President.

Posted by: cminus | March 13, 2006 3:43 PM

To Cminus:

Fisher isn't a right-wing blogger. He's just a bumbling pothole reporter.

He's out of his depth in politics, as the hair comment clearly shows.

Posted by: Matt | March 13, 2006 3:44 PM

Bilmon, only uneducated people need to resort to crass name-calling. Try to keep the profane remarks to a minimum, or else stop commenting if you can't be civilized.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2006 3:44 PM

But making fun of people's hair color is fair game...

Fisher should be restricted to local issues.

Posted by: Matt | March 13, 2006 3:48 PM

The photo seems to have been shot with a wide-angle lens from pretty close up, unless Warner's honker and teeth are really that big!

Hillary might make a good VP to Edwards or Warner or Daschel, but she's not Bill when it comes to affability and will drive away moderates who blindly lean toward 'the guy next door' type (Dubya, frinstance, as inane as that concept truly is...).

Posted by: Lea | March 13, 2006 4:27 PM

NickTheGreek says Senators don't make good Presidents - but one must remember that HRC is no run of the mill Senator; she spent valuable time in the WH. She probably learned a lot from Bill...who despite his foolish adulterous behavior seems to have a magnficent brain. (Then there are those Hillary lovers who believe that she was doing a lot of the thinking during the WH years.)

Posted by: maggie | March 13, 2006 4:39 PM

Richard Katz:

Can't tell about bottled water either. The republicans probably lowered the standards for that by redefining things as "pure". You know from unadulterated to "able to sort of see through and with mercury levels somehwere around the mean 1992 tuna mercury content.

And we may need to figure out how to use water as fuel anyway. Once we (or our surrogate Israel) bomb Iran, oil will be at $500 per barrel!

Just gives the Administration justification to declare martial law ans shut down left wing news outlets like the NY times, the Washington Post and PBS!

Posted by: zippy | March 13, 2006 4:47 PM

Zippy:

Convention wisdom dictates that we all vote for Democrats regardless of who they nominate so there is some balance in Washington to restrain our slide towards dictatorship as noted by the Honorable and Esteemed but Now Retired Sandra Day O'Connor, a true American Hero.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/3/10/82512/7603

Just One Man's Opinion.
Richard Katz

Posted by: Richard Katz | March 13, 2006 6:06 PM

I saw Mark Warner on meet the press with Joe Biden last night. Mark came off as a mouthpeice for the Bush administration. Joe Bidan had a lot of inciteful information about the state of our nation and the Iraq war debacle. Mark Warner kept mouthing the same program over and over. I could almost see the receiver antenna coming out of the top of his head. from that interview, Mark Warner seems to have no substance, no personality and no mind of his own. It's scarey to think people actualy support this guy.

As for Hillary Clinton, what has she done that is bad for New York? I keep hearing that she is this terrible person but I don't know what for? I think the far right is fearful of women having power. I think women who don't want to be housewives scare most ultra-conservatives. I think they are afraid that they may be considered useless, which for the most part they are.

Posted by: Jon Adam | March 13, 2006 6:13 PM

Interesting reading.

Posted by: Kansas | March 13, 2006 7:54 PM

As a Democrat, I'd simply for once like to have a president from our party who DIDN'T attend a damn Ivy League school.

Posted by: Vincent | March 13, 2006 9:40 PM

"Contrast with the McCain approach, or even the Howard Dean, or even the Joe Biden, for goodness' sake."

Yep, and look what the media did to them for talking straight. Turned Dean into a loon and Biden into a side-talker afraid of his shadow.
McCain, well, who knows? The media loves his straight talk even when it comes from both sides of his mouth and he's laying a hug on the man whose handlers called his daughter illegitimate.

Posted by: raybear | March 14, 2006 8:46 PM

"I saw Mark Warner on meet the press with Joe Biden last night. Mark came off as a mouthpeice for the Bush administration. [...] from that interview, Mark Warner seems to have no substance, no personality and no mind of his own. It's scarey to think people actualy support this guy."

You are confused. The guests that joined Biden on Meet the Press were George Allen, Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor. I suspect that it's George Allen who you judge to be "a mouthpeice for the Bush administration" and have "no substance, no personality and no mind of his own." I'd be inclined to agree with that assessment.

Posted by: Waldo Jaquith | March 15, 2006 1:38 PM

Well, if Warner has issues with hair coloring, he'd be well advised to stop in at the http://www.HairTrap.com for some corrective color work and perhaps a new style.

If a candidate doesn't have great hair, they won't be going far.

Posted by: Gino Styles | April 19, 2006 5:08 PM

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