Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,
Meg Whitman is still avoiding debates with Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell. When will the mainstream media start focusing on this story? Meg Whitman is a fraud and a phony and trying to run away from voters until election day.

Outraged in Orinda

Hey Outraged,
There’s an old saying in politics. Actually, there isn’t, but there should be.  “Show me a candidate who is challenging his or her opponents to a debate, and I’ll show you a candidate who is at least 15 points back in the polls.”

It’s hard for me to think of a race that is more boring than the Republican gubernatorial primary. And I mean that only as a reflection on the candidates themselves. Between the two of them, Tom Campbell and Steve Poizner have the political wattage of a votive candle.

Sure, you read words like “nice” or “policy wonk” associated with the two, but here’s another newsflash: Neither of those attributes tend to get you very far in statewide elections.

Now, before you get your proverbial boxers in a bunch, Outraged, let me be clear. I’m not saying Meg Whitman is the great white hope for the California GOP. I’ll leave that to the Fox News pundits and Wall St. Journal editorial writers who seem to have fallen for Meg Whitman harder than your average Assemblyman falling in love with the sound of his own voice.

I’ve got real concerns about Whitman. She hasn’t demonstrated any great knowledge of policy details. She seems to be following the Arnold Schwarzenegger playbook to a tee. But there’s one small problem: Meg Whitman was never in “The Terminator”. She’s got no public image, no resevoir of public good will. You know what they call Arnold Schwarzenegger without Conan or the Terminator? Al Checchi.

(For those of you who missed 1998, check your local Wikipedia listings.)

OK, OK, Meg Whitman has better hair. As far as I know her hair is real. But so are some of her potential political problems. Already, there is a media narrative forming that the eBay marketing queen has the gravitas of a bluejay feather. And just because you pal around with Mitt Romney does not mean you’re qualified to be governor of California. Hell, if anything, that’s probably a strike against you in most respectable social circles.

So, Outraged, there’s plenty to be, er, outraged about. But debates? Really?  Does anybody really watch a political debate? The most important thing I learned in decades of watching these sideshows is that Al Gore sweats a lot and wears too much make-up. I’m not sure I’m any better for those particular pearls of wisdom.

If the press does their job (and that’s a big if), all of these candidates will get a proper vetting. But really, look at the voter registration in this state. Do you really think any of this matters?

I’m not saying that Jerry Brown redux is inevitable. But I think it’s going to take a lot more than a debate among the billions in net worth known as the GOP gubernatorial field to keep that from happening.

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