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Looking the part

By Guernsey Le Pelley / November 18, 1986



OH, where are the great-looking people of yesteryear? I mean people high in the echelons of government who look as if they belonged in their job. America didn't have this trouble back in 1776. Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill is the only person in the United States today who has the looks to go with his office. And he's retiring! Will this leave America wallowing in a sea of powerful nondescripts who can be identified only by a sign on their desk?

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Take William Rehnquist. When the Senate was trying to approve him for chief justice of the United States, I said to myself, ``This guy's problem is that he doesn't look like a chief justice.'' John Jay looked like a chief justice. John Marshall looked like a chief justice. And William Howard Taft looked like a chief justice, but alas, Rehnquist resembles the fellow who is in charge of the vegetable section in our local supermarket. I try to imagine him in a black robe, but it always comes out a white apron.

It is much the same thing with Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court's new justice. He looks to me like the owner of the pizza parlor down at the end of our street.

And what about George Bush? If you passed him on the street would you say, ``Now there's someone who looks like a vice-president of the United States''? Well, I have my doubts. It is not his fault, but he looks like a friend of mine who plays a cornet in a local band.

This business of not looking the part could develop into some sort of national crisis for a great nation like the United States.

Even President Reagan is no exception. As he goes nodding and bobbing along to the helicopter, pleasantly waving his arms, he presents the genial looks of the salesman I bought my car from.

Shouldn't he look and walk more like George Washington?

When President Reagan and Speaker O'Neill were seen together in a newspaper photo, it did not seem as if any great matter of state was being discussed. It looked as if Tip was buying a Buick.

Anyone who has a solution to this problem had better come forward before it's too late.