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.
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