Reading about “thin slicing” in Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking reminds me of the only direct encounters I have had with political figures.
First there is Todd Spitzer who came to speak locally on a couple of occasions. I found his manner very matter-of-fact and his answers to questions very sensible. Some of his answers - while offered in the most constructive manner possible - were clearly not what the audience wanted. No pandering to our local audience at least. My impression formed from watching Todd was that here was someone who seemed both thoughtful and trustworthy. Admittedly a tenuous observation based on a purely subjective impression, but one I have since had no reason to change.
Todd Spitzer ended up on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and in that post he caused endless trouble by speaking out quite clearly whenever the county government was about to do something dumb or dubious (which was rather often). The fact that he survived politically was - frankly - a bit of a surprise.
Later he was elected to the California State Assembly and became Assemblyman Todd Spitzer. Unfortunately his present political territory does not include my community - by some clear intent I do not understand.
Ran into Spitzer at the Orange County Airport a couple weeks back while waiting in line for the security check. He said something about things “going in cycles” in response to my stating I missed seeing him in the local papers. Not sure what that meant…
At around the same time two candidates for county sheriff also came around and spoke locally.
One was a police chief in Santa Ana, who while not at all slick in his presentation seemed at least to be sincere and to possess and ability to solve problems. While not overly impressed, I did suspect he might be sincere and trustworthy.
The second was Michael S. Carona who was later elected and is currently the Orange County Sheriff. While I could not say exactly why, for some reason after hearing him speak, I just did not trust the man. Maybe he was just a little too slick. Maybe it was because he was a little too well funded.
Since then there have been no shortage of dubious stories involving the Sheriff and the then-new County District Attorney (who has a rather remarkable and dismaying history). While I might be fairly certain the County DA is a dubious character, about the County Sheriff the story does not seem nearly as clear. Still, I have not lost that first direct impression - I simply do not trust the man to any great extent.
Update 10/30/2007: Seems my mistrust of Carona was well-founded.