14 January 2010

Kremlinology 14: Dead Caterpillars

Brian Tobin did it.

Roger Grimes did it.

Well, yes both served their political party as leader and served the province as Premier.

jerome-kennedyBut before they became premier, they took the rather obvious step of shaving off a moustache they’d sported for years before.

There’s no coincidence.  As the groomers and other hangers-on start to gather around prospective political leaders, one of the first things they suggest is that the ‘stache has to go.

And go it does if the pol has leadership aspirations.  In countries following the British parliamentary tradition, facial hair on politicians generally – but especially on first ministers – has been out of fashion for a century.

After the fashion changed, along came the rationalisation that people don’t trust their first ministers to have beards or moustaches. There’s probably no empirical evidence to support that but it is there all the same.

And you can be guaranteed the advice will come to a politician who wants to lead anywhere:  shave it off.

It doesn’t matter if the thing works aesthetically.  Take a Gander at Jerome!’s official mug shot. The moustache is neat and well trimmed.  It’s also a natural colour, something St. John’s municipal politicians could notice. The ‘stache also gives him the appearance of having a mouth sized in proportion to his face.

He looks pretty good.

So the only reason he would dump the dead caterpillar – short of some sudden, previously undiagnosed skin condition – is political.

stacheless Here’s the new Jerome!, incidentally, in a screen cap from a recent CBC television interview.

The difference is quite striking.

Striking yes, but in some respects a difference brought on by the same limited, unimaginative thinking that wanted to take Trevor Taylor and put him through an Eliza Doolittle kind of sanitizer merely to get rid of his accent.

In Trevor’s case, his accent was not impenetrable and his tendency to use colourful language reinforced his core strength:  he spoke sincerely, honestly and straightforwardly.

In Jerome!’s case, the moustache didn’t really serve as a distraction. What had been working against him was his tendency to speak rapidly and  - when he got excited - to have his voice head for a pitch heard only by dogs. 

Jerome! has evidently been working on speaking more calmly and speaking in the lower part of his range.  All that has helped him immensely and his recent performance in the new portfolio has been extremely good.

But getting rid of the moustache?  That’s probably the least of his worries.

The only thing Jerome and his handlers have done is sent an unmistakeable signal that he wants to be Premier.

Oh yes.

Mustn’t forget.

And that he might get a chance at the job sooner than people think.