Login | Signup

Is a picture worth a thousand votes?

03.21.06 06:07 PM – Andy McDonald
In the congressional district where I grew up, there was a guy on the local political scene who was playing a couple of jokers short of a full deck. But everybody needs a hobby and this guys’ was running for the United States House of Representatives.

This perennial candidate (we’ll call him PC) inspired a black rage in the hearts of Democrats in our district. That’s because his name was just one letter different from that of a prominent congressman from our state.

PC tooled around town in a battered frigate of a station wagon. Large clapboard signs bearing his name were strapped perilously to the side panels of his car.

I spoke to PC once, but it was enough to determine that he was a disciple of Lyndon LaRouche – the guy who asserted, among other things, that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles were operatives in a nefarious plot to traffic narcotics. When talking to PC it soon became apparent that the lights were on, but nobody was home.

Still, in crowded fields, PC’s vaguely familiar name won him the Democratic nomination for the house a stunning two times in a row, sending many a loyal Democrat to the brink of emotional collapse.

One of PC’s favorite campaign tactics was the ambush photo opportunity, whereby he would go to public events, meet a famous political figure, then insist on having his photo taken with them.

One photo, which was employed in PC’s campaign ads, featured a puzzled Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was pictured staring quizzically at PC as if to say, “What is this guys' trip?” PC was shown craning his neck in a tortured fashion, looking back at the camera in a desperate attempt to document his link to the storied Camelot dynasty.

You’ll see a lot of photos in local media as we approach election time, like Congressmen Ben Chandler posing with local officials, all of them grinning as they hold a faux check roughly the size of a beach towel.

We’ve seen photos of Ed Worley and Harry Moberly, Jr. posing with citizens to announce the disbursement of funds to some local group or non-profit. It’s a not-so-subtle message to citizens in the district: When money is being doled out, we’re working to get your share for you. Fair enough, I say. Somebody’s got to sit through those mind-numbing appropriations meetings in the legislature, so they might as well get credit for having done it.

But there’s an important distinction between the way PC used his photos and the way guys like Worley and Chandler use them. The latter two are demonstrating that they’ve done something for their constituents. PC’s objective was more self-centered – instead of proving that he’d accomplished something for someone else, he wanted to prove that he was somebody.

PC’s third bid for Congress failed after he tried to convert his home into the John F. Kennedy/Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Animal Shelter. He filled his residence with an unfortunate menagerie of animals he’d managed to capture, but the stench eventually became so bad that sheriff’s deputies and animal control officers raided his home wearing gas masks.

After that, Democrats in my district finally learned their lesson the third time. No matter how many pictures PC published of himself posing with the Kennedy’s, voters decided the images weren’t a testament to PC’s fitness for public office. Too bad the lesson was learned two elections too late.
Advertise with us by calling 979-3690