ALL POLITICS ARE LOCO
Is the title of an amusing piece by Michael Lewis in the NYT Magazine. It is the story of a neighbor of California Governor Gray Davis who eagerly donated $2000 toward the recall effort:
Charlotte Goland is 79, elderly without being old. She’s tall and straight, and she laughs enough for two. She apologizes for the bathrobe — she has just had a pacemaker installed. It had never occurred to her to get involved in politics. She doesn’t care all that much about the state’s $38 billion budget deficit, for instance, though she agreed it would be nice if it didn’t exist. In 79 years, she tells me, she has never once given money or put up signs or passed out literature or encouraged politicians in any way.
But that morning in May, when she opened the form letter asking her to sign a petition to recall Gray Davis, she felt a little shiver of delight. Unlike most everyone else in California, she took the time to read the fine print at the top, along with Davis’s rebuttal at the bottom, the stuff about how this was the work of right-wingers and was going to cost the taxpayer millions of dollars. She signed it instantly, and then she wrote out the check for $2,000 and slipped it in the return envelope. She didn’t tell anyone about it — not even Claudia, her daughter, who lives next door.
Charlotte cannot quite put her finger on why she so despises Gray Davis. She met him in 1999 when he moved into the governor’s house. The Lake Wilhaggin association gave a welcoming party for Davis just as it had for his predecessors. Charlotte tried to make small talk with the governor at the party but finally gave up. ”He’s a cold cookie. . . . Wooooo-eeee,” she says. ”Never changes his expression. Deadpan-like.”
The piece is amusing, mainly because of anecdote after anecdote about how detached Davis is from the ordinary life around him. There’s nothing here to indicate Davis is a bad fellow; but he’s certainly not a “regular guy” even by wealthy politico standards. It is also rather enlightening as a window into how most people vote. Even bright, educated people are more likely to vote with their gut than their head. It is rather amazing Davis got elected in the first place. Had virtually anyone other than Bill Simon been his opponent last November, he certainly wouldn’t have been reelected.