Dear Big Daddy,
Hey, during the debate Jerry Brown took a shot at you for your rap on him for the “obscene surplus.” So what’s with that?
–Larry in Los Banos
Hey L.B. Larry,
Well, he’s a wild and crazy guy and you never know what he’s going to do. I’ll tell you this: He was a pain in the neck when he was governor, and he’ll be a pain in the neck if he gets elected. But like him or not, I always felt I knew him, even when I had to remove a shiv from my back, which was often.
Truth is, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and I wasn’t exactly a fan of Brown Sr., either. I feuded with Pat Brown often. In fact, their dislike of me may have been about the only thing that Pat and Jerry had in common, but that’s another story.
Knifing people in the back and flip-flopping are valuable skills, of course, in life as well as politics, and the “obscene surplus” that helped fuel Proposition 13 is a good example. It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when the state had billions of dollars in reserve, but we did then, even after a major recession.
But Howard Jarvis turned that into a great sin of a voracious state, and people believed him. Amazing. And then Jerry, seeing the public’s mood, switched gears faster than a jackrabbit on a date and hooked up with Jarvis, and they made the oddest couple of all time.
When Jerry puts on his dancing shoes, nobody moves faster. I like that. I was never very light footed myself, and I always admired his deft foot work.
He also never looks back, and is a shameless self-reinventor. I think Bill Clinton told me that. But that, apparently was long ago. As people climb in the political world, they forget the people who helped get them there and who offered their loyalty. This selective amnesia is known as the “Gray Davis Syndrome.”
By the way, speaking of syndromes, how about Gloria Allred and the Latina maid who worked for Whitman and then got fired? Gloria, of course, knows how to get headlines and TV coverage. It just goes to show you what people care about these days. Forget the budget, forget the unemployment. We want to know about your nanny.
Does this kind of political theater move votes? Maybe. But it just may not move votes in the direction that some Democrats think. I’m not sure this changes the minds of any voters who already picked their candidate, but the stench surrounding this entire affair is unsavory. On all sides.
Even as political theater goes, this one feels tired. And regardless of the truth, it’s hard not to feel bad for Nicky Diaz. Will we all feel just as bad if and when she’s eventually deported, now that she’s admitted she lied about her immigration status and falsified federal immigration reforms? Of course not. By the time the story of this race is written, she’ll be another footnote in what has been an entirely uninspiring and disappointing campaign.