Mark Shields: Which politicians look like their home state?
West Virginia — which, between 2015 and 2016, was the only state to see both more deaths than births and more citizens move out than move in — could understandably be expected to be somewhat unwelcoming to the recent arrival who seeks public office.
The Mountain State’s last surviving Democrat in its congressional delegation, Sen. Joe Manchin, was born in Farmington and went to West Virginia University on a football scholarship. Manchin’s November GOP opponent will be Patrick Morrisey, who grew up in New Jersey, where he went to the Garden State’s public university and law school and lost a congressional race in 2000. He also spent 11 years as a lawyer-lobbyist in Washington, D.C., before moving to West Virginia in 2006 and becoming, six years later, the first Republican in 80 years to be elected attorney general of the state.
Fallon, a veteran political sage whom I have learned to heed, argues that Manchin, despite being the underdog in a state that Donald Trump carried by a 42-point margin, will prevail. Asked to explain why, Fallon simply says: “Manchin looks like West Virginia.” And Morrisey? “He looks like D.C.’s Georgetown, not W.Va.’s Morgantown.”
This raises today’s question: Which elected public officials really do look like the people and the places that have elected them?
President Trump, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (even more so than his late father, Gov. Mario Cuomo), Sen. Chuck Schumer and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani all look a lot like New York.
Even though he was born and raised in Illinois, former President Ronald Reagan, especially when he was clearing brush at his Santa Barbara ranch, looked completely California. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is as stylish as her adopted San Francisco but still bears a strong resemblance to her native Maryland. From his appearance and personality, you would not know that California’s longest-serving governor ever, Jerry Brown, has been a lifetime resident of the Golden State.
Former President Gerald Ford did look very much like Grand Rapids and the whole state of Michigan but did not much at all look like Palm Springs, California, where he moved.
Nobody ever looked more like Texas than the completely confident John Connally, the state’s former silver-haired governor and a former treasury secretary. Sen. Ted Cruz, a native of Canada, does have a 10-gallon vocabulary but is not to be confused with the Lone Star State. However, the other member of Texas’ Senate delegation, John Cornyn, the majority whip (which is not a leather bar in the Bay Area), looks strikingly like Texas. Former President George H.W. Bush, who was born in Massachusetts, looks more New England than Texas, more Kennebunkport than Houston.
Republican Sen. Tim Scott and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, their state’s former governor, both look very much like South
Former President Barack Obama had a good line after an ugly Rudy Giuliani charge that Obama doesn’t love America.
Obama’s perfect comeback: “If I did not love America, I wouldn’t have moved here from Kenya.”
The late Richard J. Daley, six times elected mayor of Chicago, looked exactly like the Windy City. The current mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has a definite Second City look to him, but Obama never really looked that much like the City of the Broad Shoulders. Abraham Lincoln did look like Illinois — and completely like America, as well.