Capitol View

By Richard Borreca

Wednesday, June 4, 1997


The governor goes
from grump to groom

YOU have to admit it -- Ben Cayetano and Vicky Liu make a smashing couple. Watching their celebration on television this weekend, you feel honestly glad that they found each other.

After hearing a genuinely emotional governor talk of spending four lonely years, separated from his first wife, Lorraine, and now look so affectionately at his new wife and see her beam back, everyone must be wishing them good luck.

Already Cayetano's friends are talking of the changed governor. He is so much more warm and open, they say.

For Cayetano, whose public persona goes from disagreeable to mildly tolerant, the change is both amazing and welcome.

"A lot of things came together for him," one political observer said.

Cayetano's new wife, an accomplished business woman with a sparkling personality, has already captured hearts.

"The governor has a new family. They are a large, very warm and talented family," one supporter said.

"This gave him a new sense of being. He is warm and open. The whole thing is a big plus," said the observer, who asked to remain anonymous.

The transformation from Grinch to groom is so remarkablely pleasant that you wonder why we should even bother with an election next year. Just give Cayetano another four years and bask in the newly found bliss.

But is this just self-induced romanticism? Does one marriage make a new governor?

Cayetano, who has already said he was going to get married whatever the political fallout, benefited first just by the act.

There is no more talk about whom the governor was dating, whether he would bring a date to an official ceremony. Now it is Governor Cayetano and the first lady.

"When they move around as a family, she is a tremendous asset," one observer from the neighbor islands said.

"Also she has a sensitivity to small business. That adds to the team. Look what she can bring to the table."

Another observer called it a complete "win-win situation."

"He married a Republican and a small-business person who can sing and add numbers. What more does anyone want? Her story should be made into a TV-movie," he said.

Another political consultant recalled how his own first marriage broke up.

"You experience everything new. All the old pain evaporated. I can see that in the governor; the guy is getting a second chance and that is terrific," he said.

As the consultant, who has advised several political winners, said, "We all become nicer when we fall in love."

ANOTHER consultant tried out a little arm-chair psychology on the governor: "Remember how everyone said Cayetano was such a cold, grumpy person? Now we understand. He was lonely.

"I can identify with the change. Now he just glows."

Before the town goes off into a Cayetano-induced June swoon, another observer noted that the Honolulu news media have been particularly soft on the Cayetano wedding.

"They have been serving up kiddie stuff, so it is an obvious benefit to Cayetano," he said.

In the end, he said, the condition of the state's economy, not the governor's marital status, will determine our next governor.

But for now, congratulations!



Richard Borreca reports on Hawaii's politics every Wednesday.
He can be reached by e-mail at rborreca@pixi.com




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