While glued to the coverage, both riveting and chilling, of the Senate trial of former President Donald J. Trump, and watching the House prosecutors and the Senate jurors, I kept wondering how much — or how little — our elected representatives look like the people and the places they are elected to represent.
For example, Sen. Jon Tester, with his trademark flat-top haircut and as a career farmer raising wheat, barley, alfalfa and hay, looks exactly like the state of Montana that has elected him to three six-year terms.
Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn, Texas-born and reared, with service as a Texas Supreme Court judge and a full head of white hair, strongly resembles his native Lone Star State. Cornyn’s Senate colleague, Ted Cruz, born in Canada and — with the possible exception of Missouri’s Josh Hawley — the most relentlessly, and annoyingly, hyperambitious member of the Senate, looks nothing at all like Fort Worth or Nacogdoches. In fact, Cruz looks more like the big-city lawyer who is telling the elderly, cash-strapped widow that, unfortunately, the fine print agreement she signed when contracting for a new roof means — because of her two late payments — he will, reluctantly, have to foreclose on her home.
House impeachment manager Rep. Ted Lieu, the California Democrat who represents an affluent Los Angeles district, was born in Taiwan, graduated from Stanford and then Georgetown Law School, has served on Air Force active duty and in the reserves for 25 years, rising to the rank of colonel — and looks very much like California.
Utah Sen. and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, along with Sam Houston of Tennessee and Texas, is one of very few Americans to be elected governor of one state and senator of another. The trim, clean-cut, clean-living Romney, who was born in Michigan, most closely resembles Utah.
Former Vice President Mike Pence looks very much like Indiana and the small-town American Midwest. Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, too, looks like the Midwest but more like the blue-collar towns and cities.
How about Stacey Plaskett, the striking mother of five, Brooklyn-born and Georgetown-educated, who was an assistant district attorney in the Bronx before being elected delegate from the Virgin Islands? She evokes the self-confidence of New York and the charm of the islands. Speaking of the Empire State, who looks more like the Big Apple than former Mayor Rudy Giuliani or Sen. Chuck Schumer or Gov. Andrew Cuomo? Maybe Donald J. Trump, who may no longer qualify after he — in pursuit of a state with no personal income tax — traded his Manhattan address for Palm Beach, Florida. And while we’re at it, who looks more Vermont than Sen. Bernie Sanders?
President Joe Biden — as long as he doesn’t sport those unbecoming aviator sunglasses — does look like working-class Scranton.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham — who was one of John McCain’s most devoted acolytes and who, in 2016, branded Trump a “kook” and “unfit for office” but subsequently became one of Trump’s most loyally uncritical apologists — looks less like a geographical place and more like a fictional character, radio and television’s faithful and unquestioning sidekick, Tonto to the Lone Ranger.
House impeachment manager Rep. Joe Neguse, whose parents fled their native and war-torn Eritrea in East Africa and were granted asylum by the U.S., graduated from the University of Colorado and its law school before winning the House district, which includes Boulder. Neguse doesn’t look like the crunchy-granola, ski-bumming Coloradan of popular lore, but, happily, he does look very much like America.
To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.