The Pacific Northwest's Chameleon Candidate

Paul Shlichta
An election year is like a traveling circus.  One gets to see all sorts of grotesque sideshow freaks, such as chameleons, contortionists, snake-charmers, and phoenixes.

This year, in the race for commissioner of the Port of Olympia, Washington, one of the candidates, Sue Gunn, is a truly beautiful specimen of chameleon.  With the ease of a virtuoso, she can turn Republican red, Democrat blue, or environmentalist green, depending on which faction of the electorate she's wooing.

In January 2012, Sue was deep blue, advocating ultraliberal ideas such as unrestricted abortion, drastic downsizing of our armed forces, compelling corporations to refrain from political contributions, and same-day voter registration.  But by mid-summer, while running for Congress, she faded to a neutral purple and coyly refused to reveal her positions on any controversial issues, thereby flunking VoteSmart's Political Courage Test.

This year, Red Sue is a hardheaded fiscal conservative, preoccupied with lowering taxes and running the Port of Olympia at a profit -- or so she says in Works in Progress and on her campaign website.

But on an environmentalist website, she's Green Sue, claiming that she'll refuse all timber and fracking proppant contracts because they're bad for the environment -- thus depriving the port of two of its most lucrative sources of revenue.  This would cost quite a few jobs and increase our taxes, the very thing Red Sue deplores.  But not to worry: Green Sue also proposes to close down the marine terminal entirely and turn it into a park.

This dazzling display, which rivals the NBC peacock, makes me wonder what Orange Sue and Yellow Sue would be like.

Perhaps you have a chameleon nominee of your own, or a pet contortionist or mega-ego.  Therefore, I have included the following table as a preliminary attempt to classify political freaks.  I welcome any corrections, additions, or examples.


DESCRIPTION

POLITICAL EXAMPLES

Mega-egos and Narcissists

A confident belief in one's omniscience, plus a strong desire for adulation

Obama, Montgomery, Gailbraith, Vidal, Nader, Perot

Giga-egos

Mega-egotism combined with genuine malevolent genius

William O. Douglas , Soros

Phoobs

The ability to change ones image so as to resemble one's audience

Gore tried it once ("I'm a tobacco man...")

Chameleons

The ability to change ones image and/or views to suit different audiences

L. Johnson, W. Clinton, H. Clinton

Contortionists and Jugglers

Verbal wriggling and evasion to cover up inconsistencies or conceal true position

Kerry, McCain (?)

Phoenixes

Political rebirth in a new and different form after defeat

H. Clinton, Gore (?)

Snake Charmers

The mystic ability to mesmerize crowds into loyal and unquestioning followers

Hitler, Sinatra, Obama, Paul (?)

An election year is like a traveling circus.  One gets to see all sorts of grotesque sideshow freaks, such as chameleons, contortionists, snake-charmers, and phoenixes.

This year, in the race for commissioner of the Port of Olympia, Washington, one of the candidates, Sue Gunn, is a truly beautiful specimen of chameleon.  With the ease of a virtuoso, she can turn Republican red, Democrat blue, or environmentalist green, depending on which faction of the electorate she's wooing.

In January 2012, Sue was deep blue, advocating ultraliberal ideas such as unrestricted abortion, drastic downsizing of our armed forces, compelling corporations to refrain from political contributions, and same-day voter registration.  But by mid-summer, while running for Congress, she faded to a neutral purple and coyly refused to reveal her positions on any controversial issues, thereby flunking VoteSmart's Political Courage Test.

This year, Red Sue is a hardheaded fiscal conservative, preoccupied with lowering taxes and running the Port of Olympia at a profit -- or so she says in Works in Progress and on her campaign website.

But on an environmentalist website, she's Green Sue, claiming that she'll refuse all timber and fracking proppant contracts because they're bad for the environment -- thus depriving the port of two of its most lucrative sources of revenue.  This would cost quite a few jobs and increase our taxes, the very thing Red Sue deplores.  But not to worry: Green Sue also proposes to close down the marine terminal entirely and turn it into a park.

This dazzling display, which rivals the NBC peacock, makes me wonder what Orange Sue and Yellow Sue would be like.

Perhaps you have a chameleon nominee of your own, or a pet contortionist or mega-ego.  Therefore, I have included the following table as a preliminary attempt to classify political freaks.  I welcome any corrections, additions, or examples.


DESCRIPTION

POLITICAL EXAMPLES

Mega-egos and Narcissists

A confident belief in one's omniscience, plus a strong desire for adulation

Obama, Montgomery, Gailbraith, Vidal, Nader, Perot

Giga-egos

Mega-egotism combined with genuine malevolent genius

William O. Douglas , Soros

Phoobs

The ability to change ones image so as to resemble one's audience

Gore tried it once ("I'm a tobacco man...")

Chameleons

The ability to change ones image and/or views to suit different audiences

L. Johnson, W. Clinton, H. Clinton

Contortionists and Jugglers

Verbal wriggling and evasion to cover up inconsistencies or conceal true position

Kerry, McCain (?)

Phoenixes

Political rebirth in a new and different form after defeat

H. Clinton, Gore (?)

Snake Charmers

The mystic ability to mesmerize crowds into loyal and unquestioning followers

Hitler, Sinatra, Obama, Paul (?)