≡ Menu
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, tells reporters that he will push for a vote in Congress to kick the Palestinian Liberation Organization out of its Washington offices and threaten to withhold U.S. financial assistance if the Palestinians seek to use enhanced U.N. status against Israel, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Lindsey Graham appears to have a southern accent in this photo but it might be just the lighting or the lens

The other day Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who is dropping hints he may join the Republican herd stampeding for the White House, said it’s high time for another president with an accent. That struck me as a odd, since it’s only been seven years since President George W. Bush drawled and cut brush mightily on his Texas ranch.

And it’s been an equally short a time since President Dick Cheney announced he was taking America into his dark bunker with an accent reminiscent of old black-and-white creature features.

Graham was really talking about was it being time for another southern president. And the South Carolinian was betraying yet another prejudice by asserting only Southerners have accents.

Well, everyone has an accent, even those smart-phone voices that tell us where we can buy killer chimichangas in the next town.

I’m a native Californian, and my parents were native Californians. I’m fairly certain I have a distinct California accent, seasoned slightly by growing up in Bakersfield and having a gang of childhood pals whose families accented Oklahoma at the dinner table. That’s why I have always used the word ain’t in my normal conversation, though I say it with a distinct California accent. I ain’t fooling, dude.

For over a year while living in Portland, Ore., I mumbled a lot to conceal my accent, for I had heard horror stories about what real Oregonians do to arrivistes from California. When confronted with the chilling prospects of pronouncing common Oregonian geographic words like Willamette, Wallowa and Tualatin, I would sneeze and curse my hay fever. 

Oregonians, a polite, pale and hip people by nature, would commiserate. For if it wasn’t raining in the “Willy Met Valley,” you could be sure the pollen count was in the stratosphere.

From movies and television, we all are familiar with Boston, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Fargo and Simpson Family accents, not to mention the Austro-Calliforniaye accent of former Gov. Terminator and Moon Unit Zappa‘s Valley Speak.

Is Graham pushing Schwarzenegger ( I am so glad I no longer have to spell this name in daily copy) to enter the race? The gentleman from South Carolina should be careful for what he wishes. Or do more research on accents.

Hillary Clinton spent several years in Arkansas, and she isn’t above dropping the g’s in her present participles when speakin’ to the good folks who like grits, gravy and floatin’ down the Whitewater River.

Why, Bill Clinton himself — no matter how much a citizen of the world he has become since leaving the White House — still delivers his $100,000 speeches with an Arkansas drawl. And Jimmy Carter, it must be recalled, spoke folksy Georgian when calling upon the nation to save energy by wearing his line of cardigan sweaters.
No one party, nor one part of the country, has a monopoly on accents.

And the true language of politics, as Sen. Graham should know, doesn’t speak anything but dollar signs, with the accent heavy on the dollars.


Which Rob Lowe? If the actor runs for Congress out of Santa Barbara, as some Republicans hope, he wouldn’t be the liberal Rob Lowe from The West Wing but instead would be the libertarian Rob Lowe from Montecito

Congressman Sam Farr, although he has made no noise about retiring, won’t be in Congress forever. And when he does exit, Central Coast residents can expect a crowded field of wannabe House members to throw their hats — though no one wears hats much any more — into the race.

There will be a throng, not unlike the two-round, special 1993 election that Farr won to succeed Leon Panetta, who left Congress to become President Clinton’s budget chief.

That year, Farr and 26 other candidates lined up in a wide-open primary field, which included 11 Democrats vying for their party nomination. Because of the district’s heavily Democratic makeup, Farr really won the seat by besting the 10 other Dems in the special primary.

Farr went on to beat Republican Bill McCampbell by 10 percentage points in the runoff election and has cruised to easy re-elections since. That likely will keep happening until Farr decides to hang it up — despite the flurry of publicity being enjoyed by first-term Pacific Grove Councilwoman Casey Lucius for merely thinking about taking on Farr under the GOP banner.

Central Coast residents can get a sense of how the political gusher will gush when Farr retires  — Jimmy Panneta, Bill Monning, how many others? — by looking down the coast toward Santa Barbara.

Longtime Democrat Rep. Lois Capps said this week she won’t run for re-election next year, and the number of possible candidates is already approaching the number of oil rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Capps’ 24th District is different than Farr’s 20th District. Democrats only hold a slight edge in the district that runs from Paso Robles to Santa Barbara. That makes the 2016 race even more wide open, for both Democrats and Republicans, than an open race in the 20th. Here’s an early take on what will be a very competitive race from Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee.

Absent from that list is one of the 24th’s most famous residents and current darling among some Republicans — actor Rob Lowe, who resides in Montecito. Though Lowe’s only political experience was as a fictional Democratic White House aide on the TV show “The West Wing,” some conservatives are hoping he runs next year for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Barbara Boxer.

If Lowe decides to be the latest actor-turned-politician  in California, Lowe shouldn’t suffer for lack of name recognition. Until this month, he and several inferior alter egos were featured in a curious series of elitist TV commercials for DirecTV.

Lowe makes his bones on the libertarian side of the Republican tent. He’s for individualism over big government, except for big-ticket items, presumably like Pentagon budgets.

But he may have to convince voters he isn’t the Rob Lowe who peaked, not in high school like in the TV ads, but as Sam Seaborn, urbane and liberal policy wonk on “The West Wing.”

And, of course, there was the notorious video of Lowe having sex with two young women he met in an Atlanta club on the eve of the 1988 Democratic National Convention. With today’s GOP electorate, the sex tape may not mean as much as what Lowe was doing at the DNC — campaigning for eventual Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis.