First of all, it makes you look like an idiot. Ask Michael Dukakis.
Dressing up might seem like fun, but those pictures never go away. Ask Rudy Guiliani. Here's a tip for candidates trying to pursue the conservative base. Unless you're thinking of understudying for Travolta in Hairspray, don't wear a dress. Conservatives want to be wooed, not cruised.
You want to tell us that you're a critter-shottin', gun-totin', pro-life, regular-type guy, fine. Just make sure you don't have a trail of country-club memberships and pro-choice donations tucked under you huntin' hat. What do think, Mitt Romney?
And when did hypocrisy become an attractive trait in a candidate? You can't tell us you're against the war and then vote to fund it. Even if your name is Joe Biden.
You can't say you're incorruptible then suck up to who you said was an "agent of intolerance," no matter how many votes the late Jerry Falwell could have delivered to John McCain.
And no matter how many ex-presidents you're married to, please, talk like you talk, not like how you would like to sound depending on the crowd.
Mr. And Mrs Potential President, voters want to know who you are, not who you would like us to believe who you are. No costume, no speech, no campaign photo-op with Bill Gates is going to make you a different person. Taking your picture with smart people doesn't make you smarter any more than Richard Nixon taking a picture with a Percodan-loaded Elvis Presley made Tricky-Dick a hip-swinging singer.
In fact, pictures with intelligent people only makes you look dumber. It's like going out with a fat friend to make you look thinner and thinking that the guy you end up going home with won't notice that, no matter how much your friend fatter than you, you're still a chub. Except in this case, you're the fat friend. See, it's all an illusion, Just like thinking that making a speech standing in front of a bunch of soldiers makes you look like you're a military guy or clearing brush makes you look like John Wayne, or wearing a jet fighter uniform on the deck of an aircraft carrier makes you look like you actually flew a plane in combat, or standing behind a podium with a presidential seal makes you look presidential. You can't look presidential unless you act presidential, not when you hide behind a costume or a catchphrase or my pet goat ... or even a book called "My Pet Goat."
Campaigning should not be about misleading the public, say like George Bush did when he said he wanted to be President, then when he got elected, let Dick Cheney run the country. Campaigns must be about telling the voter who you really are. Otherwise, it's all a lie. Time-honored politics, but a lie just the same. And that type of deception is patently wrong, that is, unless it's your way of preparing the American public for your administration. Say like the Cheney Administration. Of course if President Bush and Dick Cheney wanted to use costumes, pictures and props to show the American people what really could have expected from their presidency, they could have sent around a picture of them dressed in a coffin with an American flag across it. Problem is, that's a picture we're not allowed to see. Not only because President Bush won't let us take pictures of the horrific damage his election has dealt this country, but because it would have been the truth. For if George Bush had told the truth during his campaign, he would have never been elected. Sadly, that's why, despite what every candidate will tell you, we'll probably never hear the whole truth from any candidate running for President. Which means, there's always a chance another George Bush will get himself elected. And no matter how strong the founding fathers constructed the Constitution, I don't think it can take four more years of being mutilated by false patriots before it finally falls apart completely.
Steve Young is author of"Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" www.greatfailure.com