Mark A. R. Kleiman has this to say about the politics of personality, in reference to recent speculation in the blogosphere over whether Bush dyes his hair:
As soon as Bush apologizes to Gore for the remark about hair-dye and the thousand other petty personal insults he and his minions spun into a "character issue," and has Karl Rove tell his tame media attack dogs to cool it on John Kerry's haircut, I'll be happy to say no more about Bush's petty vanity.
But Bush's whole political shtick is to be the Personally Decent Man, by contrast to Clinton. There are two things wrong with that claim: its irrelevance, and its falsity. If the other side will admit to the irrelevance, I'll be happy to shut up about the falsity. I'd much rather talk about how he cooks his budget numbers.
A year ago in his State of the Union he promised that deficits would be "small and temporary." Now we're headed for $300 billion worth of red ink next year, and, according to Bush's own OMB Director, deficits stretching into the next decade. Yet Bush never condescended to explain to us why last year's promise is now inoperative. That's the kind of dishonesty we ought to be talking about. The personal stuff is merely metaphor.