Posted: September 12, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Short, Fat, Bald, and Old: Choices for GOP voters

Politics is as much about physical presence as anything else. For as long as democracy has existed, citizens have been drawn to Charisma, which comes only partially from ideas or arguments, from the content of a politician’s rhetoric. The rest is made of physical gifts, face and body, movement and sound, stance and stride. Obama would not be president if he were ugly or ungainly.

Montana Democrats are lucky this cycle in this regard. We have a gubernatorial candidate, Steve Bullock, who looks, acts and talks in a way that citizens and voters will to respond to.

The GOP has a problem in this regard, as was made apparent by Matt Gouras’s piece in the IR this past Sunday (though I’ve linked to a non-Lee paper for those saving clicks) profiling the GOP field.

Their frontrunner is 64 year old Rick Hill. You don’t go into politics at that age. You retire. But Hill is chasing glory. Long in the tooth, stodgy, with failing eyesight and grayed hair and adultery in his past, Hill seems a poor contrast to Bullock, who is in his mid-forties, young and energetic, sharp, with a model family. How Hill’s 1976 affair, if it becomes an issue at all, will be affected by voters’ reception of Hill’s physical appearance is unclear. If Hill fails to explain thoroughly to voters that his affair is ancient history, then voters might settle on an image of a crusty old pervert, wearing boxers, an undershirt and knee-high dress socks, chasing a young waitress around a hotel room.

Nearest to Hill (in age and money) is Neil Livingstone, who is also 64, a follicly challenged, aloof but wealthy guy who hasn’t the slightest idea how to be a candidate or run a campaign or keep up appearances.  Aside from his shiny dome, Livingstone has defined himself, in what little press coverage he’s received, as someone who is from Washington DC, not Montana. Politics is a young man’s game. To wit, only someone from Livingstone’s generation would think it wise to spend campaign money on consultants who live in Peru. True, Livingstone has chosen a GOP rising star as his second, but it’s unlikely to be enough to keep the Livingstone ship afloat.

Corey Stapleton, the diminutive former state senator from Billings, is probably the most savvy and up-to-date of the field in terms of how modern races are won. A young man, he’s come of age in the internet era. But its not clear that he brings any distinguishing aspect to the race.  And he’s a recovering addict of some unknown substance problem, a fact which he made an oblique reference to on his Wikipedia page, and then deleted.

If looks and height alone were what mattered, Ken Miller might be the GOP’s man. Tall, dark hair, and not a bad looking fellow. But when he opens his mouth, he has a problem. His introductory video was widely derided across the internet as utterly comic, his delivery horrendous, his sentences vacuous.  He is like an SNL skit version of a politician.

Then there is Jeff Essmann, who has been a rotund presence in the rotunda since he filled John Bohlinger’s vacant senate seat, and who has now staked his political future on an anti-pot crusade. Essmann was caught off-guard on a radio show when he was asked whether he’d ever smoked pot. He seemed to fumble with his answer, as if trying to stall for time to make a quick but crucial decision. One commenter here has said Essmann at least looks like he often gets the munchies. I’ll reserve comment.  And as Gouras points out, Denny Rehberg’s team of goons seems to be quietly getting behind an Essmann candidacy. Why? Unclear. Perhaps Denny doesn’t like Rick Hill, because Hill probably detests Denny. After all, Denny chased Hill out of his congressional seat back in the 90s. So I guess Denny has to now pick a horse for governor other than Hill, and he’s settled on Essmann.

One thing is clear: the GOP primary ain’t no beauty contest.

30 comments

  1. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

    HEY, welcome to the COP, Crusty Old Perv Party! We need representation too! And really, I cut a fine figure in my boxers and knee high socks! Ya just never know when ya might have to rescue a mermaid at the Sip and Dip!

  2. Rimrock

    But Dustin Frost says Essman is hands down the best choice!

    The Frosts were/are friends of ours from back in the Kevin days, but I’m thinking Dustin did really suffer brain damage in that boat wreck.

  3. jed

    Given the successful contenders over Montana’s relatively brief history, it strikes me as rather odd to make candidate charisma an issue

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

      I think that Ggirl’s wrong on this one. I believe that some folks are finally READY for public service once the ol’ juices stop flowing. You see, Ghandi was not able to give up sex until late in life. It was just too darn hard. Maybe lil’ Rickie has gotten all the mermaids outta his system, and is now ready to be a faithful public servant! He could now be the next Montana Ghandi! He’s reached enlightenment!…or something.

  4. Farmboy

    The GOP atleast in Montana seems to have a contest every few years, who can annoy the voters the most, first prize is the top slot in the ticket. If you dont believe me lets have a little history lesson, 2002 Mike Taylor, now what was his campaign about? I cant remember a single idea the man had other then having a campaign staffer drive an old car around, that was built the same year his opponent Max Baucus got in the US Senate, other then that he basically banked on not being Max, being a Republican, and looking like Teddy Roosevelt, no substance at all. Judy Martz had no substance or brain power, case in point dare I mention laundry gate or “my husband has never beat me but then again I’ve never gave him any reason too”. Conrad Burns was really smart especially when it came to yelling at firefighters in the Billings airport, and tring to give away forest service lands, and being buddies with Jack Abromoff. Then in 2008 we had Roy Brown, he basically did nothing but cry about Governor Schwietzer being a bully then in 2010 the prime year of Republicanism and teabaggerism he managed to lose his State Senate Seat. And this is only a sample of the Republican party Ive mentioned, heck these guys have got people running that are nuts. Seriously dont they have a KKK grand wizard running from Great Falls?

  5. Publius II

    The ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse’ anybody? Rep. Zinke’s the BEST candidate, reasonable and wiser than all of these………

  6. Ilikewoods

    Pretty sad state of affairs when businesses are pouring money into GOP Puppetville! I would think they would be wary of hanging with such a motley group as the MTGOP! But puppet strings can be pulled when needed!

  7. Publius II

    I assume the ‘Four Horsemen’ would endorse that famous line “Are there no prisons, are there no workhouses” endorsement Scrooge wickedly laments in ‘Christmas Carol’ in order to decrease the ‘surplus population’ as we here today from the US Census Bureau that our poverty rates gone up, 1 in SIX, higher than comparative industrial nations – who we defend with the Blood and Treasure from our working class – and those other nations pay less and get more medical coverage, while our life expectancy rates continue to decline. Liberty and Justice for All?

        • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

          Jesus, I gotta tell ya that even someone as cynical as MYSELF watched that speech in its entirety! I can’t even REMEMBER the last time I watched a presidential speech let alone the entire frickin’ thing! But that’s where we’re at. We’ll take hint of hope that SOMEONE, ANYONE will stand up to these no good fascist bastards like the Kockh brothers and actually FIGHT BACK ONCE for the American people!

          Obama did his part. Now, it’s up to US to kick some corporate ass! But I don’t think that we’re up to it. We’ll see. Obama put the entire frickin’ ONUS on the Teatards and Pubbies. Now, let’em vote his jobs program down and let’s get this freakin’ revolution underway! The sooner the better! Hell, who DOESN’T need a job?! Who DOESN’T need a tax break?! Who DOESNT need medical/dental care??!!! The Big Kockhs got it. Let’s get it back!

        • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

          Speaking of health care, here’s a leetle factoid that BIT some moron in the azz who had the freakin’ AUDACITY to name his moronic son Rand, after Aynus Rant I assUme. Thanks Lynn. I mean, ONLY a brain dead dude would name his offspring Rand. (guess he COULD have name him Aynus instead) Or Trig. Was that after Roy Roger’s horse Trigger??

          http://blog.buzzflash.com/node/13007

    • rleeh

      free defense services…
      all they pay is unkie sham’s presence 700+ bases NOT in the u s…
      oh…
      that’s all we pay too along with all the human services, infrastructure etc etc.
      steal at twice the price.
      and that would be liberty and JUST US for the top 3%/

  8. Charity

    I always like reading people talk up Zinke… the California resident… as a potential “moderate” alternative candidate.

  9. Fire Dog

    Rick Hill is like a has-been boxer trying to win one more fight. Long past his prime, he doesnt have the stamina to go 9 rounds. His best years are behind him.

  10. Bob

    I don’t think it’ll matter.

    Last night the Democrat candidates went down in Nevada, and New York, as the voters took the opportunity to repuidiate Obama.

    The New York seat was Chuck Schumers, which is has been a reliable, safe democrat seat.

    It’s a prelude to 2012 in Montana, and there’s nothing Bullock can do about it.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

      Point well-taken, Bob. It DOES appear to be a rather rapid, inexorable descent straight into fascism, doesn’t it? And to think, ALL the corpos needed to seal the deal was the election of a black man do achieve it! As that Russian comic used to say about his adopted country of America, WHAT A COUNTRY! What a country of gullible freakin’ BUFFOONS! We’re gettin’ the murdoch and Big Kockh treatment, and no one is fighting back. We do not deserve democracy any longer. We’ll soon have the gubmint we deserve, and THEN we’ll get our hope, ’cause that’ll be all folks have left. A hope for better days, just like in the thirties! Think about it, Bobo. It’s comin’.

  11. Publius II

    Bob, the seat that went down was Anthony Weiner’s, who ‘dropped his pants’ unfortunately and a lot of voters didn’t turn out in a special election, and when Ed KOCH stumped for Turner, it’s a tought headwind for anybody, as the still popular – and liberal – Koch held sway
    over the pro-Israel folk still angry about Pres. Obama’s recent Palestine thoughts. Plus,
    Turner’s dramatic talent – he produced Jerry Springer, that deep intellectual stuff – played
    well for him, plus lots of money, and Dems spent big also I must admit. It’s good ‘bloody
    nose’ for Dems to wake ‘em up, and come out FIGHTING NOW, everyday, everyday, everyday.

  12. Jed

    The idea that a black man could be re-elected president in the USA is as far-fetched now is as it was in 1944. I am amazed that Mr. Obama was successful in 2008.
    As a matter of fact I was as flabbergasted as Jesse Jackson. I was so proud and happy to see that fellow–the essential American punching-bag–moving about in front of TV cameras–with his tear-stained face that night in 11/08, that I momentarily forgot my basic cynical caution and ignored Obama’s real interest for awhile. His real aim has been to make everybody aware of the firsts he could accumulate.
    He seemed to have little interest in establishing, or re-establishing a better life for sentient beings…