Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,
What did you think of the Jerry Brown – Bill Clinton episode?
–Watching in Wasco

Dear Watching,
The video from that 1992 debate is entertaining: Brown, pointing at Clinton, alleging improprieties to help Hillary; Clinton, jabs right back, angrily accusing Brown of “jumping on his wife” (interesting choice of words, that). Both came off looking angry and out of control. I even saw Clinton flinch, like he wanted to slug Brown.

A good politician can get angry, but should never, ever appear out of control. Voters don’t like anybody who looks out of control. Especially not bald guys. It brings back too many bad memories involving Yul Brynner in the King and I. Or maybe that’s just me. Why, suddenly, do I feel like I’m on the verge of revealing too much personal information here?

But there’s been a lot of water under the bridge in 18 years, and that verbal exchange seemed to be consigned to the dustbin of history, or at least the archive of interesting debate moments, such as, “You’re no Jack Kennedy” and “There are no Russians in Eastern Europe” and “What’s my name and why am I here?” Again, is it wrong to make a “water under the bridge” reference and a Kennedy reference in the same paragraph? Ah, hell. Teddy’s gone. And since I supported Bobby in ’68, I’m allowed a little poetic license, right?

But this is age of digital and archived video. A politician’s words don’t fade away, they linger in a digital limbo until snapped up by a rival.

That’s too bad, because sometimes snippets of words are used to define a politician’s life, and that’s unfair.

Believe me, I said a lot more than “Money is the mother’s milk of politics” or “If you can’t eat their food, drink their booze, screw their women and then vote against them, you have no business being up here.”

I remember when I said, “The grasshopper moves at midnight into the valley of the third moon.”  Now that’s a quote. Or how about, “I’d love running for governor if they made it an appointed office.”  Or, “Bring me the head of Dick Bergholz.”

But nobody cares about those gems.

What I liked about that fracas from the ’92 debate was the energy of Clinton and Brown: Two sharks in prime form swimming in the same tank. Of course, one of those sharks had a bad comb-over at the time, but that’s besides the point.

Or is it? The common thread here is that it’s hard to hide from voters, even in this day and age. For better or worse, the real Jerry Brown is going to come shining through. Or at least buzzing through like a mosquito before buzzing off to the next shiny object. As for Meg Whitman? Hey, maybe $150 million is enough to keep a fortress around your personality. But then you’re left wondering whether or not she has a personality, and that’s no good either.

I’m glad we’ve had this time to talk, gentle reader. In this space, I’ve been able to exorcise my Yul Brynner demons, we’ve hit high points like comb-overs and Dick Bergholz. And I even found the time to make a distasteful Mary Jo Kopechne joke. And that’s what we’re talking about, isn’t it? You’ve got to stay on message.

Let’s see if our two gubernatorial candidates can manage the same.


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