Politics and people

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Reflection of the Church of the Heavenly Rest on 90th and Fifth Avenue. 5:00 PM. Photo: JH.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Yesterday was sunny with temps in the almost chilly low 50s, with sprinkles and moments of scattered rain and “excellent” air quality as I write this at 11 p.m.

Politics and people. Someone sent me a clip of Caitlyn Jenner being interviewed about her decision to run for governor in California. When I first heard about it I thought of Jenner the man who was always industrious and ambitious. That led to my imagination wondering if his/her whole “conversion” was perhaps an important career move. I don’t mean political career, but any career. 

I’m not a sports fan per se but I was aware of Jenner when he came on the national scene as an Olympics star. He had the stare qualities, and it was only natural that he’d end up living in the land of Hollywood. I off-handedly met him once back in the late 80s when he was married to Kris. We were all at a small gathering of friends that Sela Ward was hosting on a Sunday afternoon in Malibu. 

Bruce was a star amongst them. His world was that of the young Hollywood stars/producers/writers/agents. He and Kris were very much a part of that social scene. And highly respected because he had carved a business career out of those medals that he worked so hard and doggedly for. All-American boy.

Caitlyn Jenner celebrating her 70th birthday with a Kardashian-Jenner family dinner. Instagram.

I was surprised when his “change” was announced. The man I met that day at Sela Ward’s beach house was a real “guy’s guy” without a doubt.  Of course that was thirty years ago. The publicity part of the “change” process was predictable as he clearly was not only making a change but making a point. When his children and stepchildren formed The Kardashians and became the mogul-ettes of all Hollywood and the world of airmail marketing, it kind of put the man, the Star himself, in the background. Big time. Which is normal, generationally, although we’re talking about the citizens of Hollywood, that tough-as-nails, make-believe land of fame and fortune. 

So when I first read that he, now she, was thinking of throwing her hat into the gubernatorial race in California, I could only think “career, career” as she has always been honestly ambitious in the good ole American sense of “getting ahead.” And she’s entirely a pro. I wondered if Kanye West’s “campaign” gave her the idea.

First of all, these eyes are still getting used to her because although she’s a good looking woman, he was also a good looking man, and I’m still seeing that man’s face. With that in mind, I decided to watch the video if only to see what she’s doing this for.

I was surprised, but not really. I thought of Ronald Reagan instantly, because Jenner has that same middle-American California quality about his personal self. An average guy movie star; just the way a lot of us Amuricans like them. 

The interview was about “why” she had decided to throw her hat into the race. Her responses to the questions were common sensical. They weren’t political. The Jenner image we are all familiar with is still operating. Her poise, or ease in an interview, demonstrate the candidate’s strong public image. 

I was stunned by her presence on camera. It occurred to me that even in her previous incarnation, she/he might have run for governor at this time in his/her life and career. Ronald Reagan’s strength with the public came from a lifelong professional image, and not that of a politician, but rather a serious down-home kinda guy (who loved being a movie star).

President Ronald Reagan greeting Bruce Jenner with his then wife Linda Jenner and Margaret Heckler in the Oval Office in 1983.

Caitlyn has the same advantages as a public personality. She’s quite serious. We now live in a world that has opened up to all sorts of changes in our lives and those around us. Caitlyn Jenner, like Ronald Reagan, speaks the same “common sense” talk. She doesn’t have to be anything but herself to appeal to a public that is in need of a leader with a lot of practical Common Sense. And remember, she’s always been an Olympic star.

These thoughts do not reflect my personal political choices, and furthermore, I’m not a California voter. Although I was fascinated by The Winner Personality. She competes; that’s her nature, born with it. It’s a personality emblematic of her generation, my generation.

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