Wednesday, April 21, 2010

eMeg vs Moonbeam

"""The second GOP candidate, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, is running far ahead of Poizner, floating her campaign on an extraordinary sea of early money. Three months before the June primary, and eight months before the general election, Whitman (or eMeg, as local political journalists often call her) has already spent $46 million, mostly from personal funds on her campaign, and has threatened to spend up to $150 million if necessary.

EMeg’s strategy is to buy the election with her almost limitless personal fortune.

Whitman’s ads mainly convey, with numbing repetition, her claim to offer a fresh start for the state, delivered by a rock-star business executive committed to cuts in spending, tax cuts, and education reform.

And how is this to be accomplished in a state in which the population routinely says no to spending cuts and taxes?

She’s also bought herself grief by refusing, until very recently, to answer press questions or elaborate beyond the happy talk of her biographical ads about her positions on various issues. All in all, she’s in danger of earning the reputation of being something of a robo-pol like her political mentor, Mitt Romney.

So far there are no ideas coming from EMeg and no experience in government either. That sounds like “Governator” redux to me.

On the other side of the aisle we have Jerry Brown, known as “Governor Moonbeam” 30 years ago for his unorthodox style. He has experience in spades:

…Brown was first elected to statewide office 40—yes, 40—years ago. After a term as secretary of state, he was governor for eight years, and later state party chair, mayor of Oakland, and currently attorney general of California. He also ran unsuccessfully, and somewhat fecklessly, for the U.S. Senate once and for president three times.

But, although the anti-politician sentiment is raging, Brown may not be handicapped by it.


Indeed, over four decades of engagement in public life, Jerry Brown has developed a remarkable knack for displaying a sense of his own—and government’s—limits. He began his gubernatorial first term in 1975 with an off-the-cuff “address” that ran seven minutes; replaced the traditional inaugural ball with an informal dinner at a Chinese restaurant; traded in his gubernatorial limo for a 1974 Plymouth from the state car pool; rented a small apartment instead of living in the governor’s mansion; and reportedly slept on a mattress on the floor. (As governor, Brown was far more fiscally conservative than his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, who raised taxes and spending several times. His austerity, which created vast budget surpluses, prompted one Reagan aide to joke that the Gipper “thinks Jerry Brown has gone too far to the right.”)

And it’s not as though Jerry Brown is likely to present Whitman with an unmoving target. As protean as California itself and as wily as any other 40-year veteran of political wars, Brown nicely defined himself in an interview with Calbuzz just after officially announcing his candidacy: “Adaptation is the essence of evolution,” he explained. “And those who don’t adapt go extinct.”

Indeed, such adaptivity may be the only thing that can serve California’s needs right now.

I don’t know who will win. Californians have proven that they are willing to elect a wealthy, empty suit with a big mouth to run the state.

But one way or another, our next governor is likely to be a clown.""""""

a mediocre corporate-bureaucratic clown at that.

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