Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,
This week, we lost a pop culture icon. Do you have any favorite Michael Jackson memories?
Nancy in Neverland

Hey Nancy,
You may find this hard to believe, but pop culture is not my forte. Give me a rerun of the Lawrence Welk show and a glass of JWR, and I’ve got myself a pretty eventful Saturday evening.

In fact, when you mentioned the passing of a pop culture icon, my first thought was that you were going to ask me about Ed McMahon. Shows you what my typical point of reference is.

But what’s striking to me is how closely the life and death of Michael Jackson parallels that of Elvis. You’ve got Young Michael and weird, physically altered older Michael, just like young Elvis and fat Elvis. And toward the end, of course they were both so cracked out on pills they made Paula Abdul look sober.

Although I realize Michael Jackson’s death probably had more real-world impact than what’s been going on in Sacramento this week, I, unfortunately, have been unable to escape the latter. So, could there possibly be some sort of lesson, some cautionary tale, or at least some parallels in the life and death of Michael Jackson and the machinations of the state budget process?

Hmmm, I wonder….
Well, like Michael Jackson, the budget is often misunderstood, maligned and misinterpreted. From a distance, both look freakish and odd – something best kept at a safe distance.

But there is a danger when a person, or a political process becomes too abstract, too out of reach. It begins to take on a life of its own, and develops a series of strange habits, odd quirks, and does things that don’t seem either safe or sane.

In that respect, what we just lived through this week in the Capitol would be the equivalent of taking on Bubbles the Chimp. Or perhaps a better analogy is that we’ve just gone through the proverbial dangling of a baby off a penthouse balcony.

The failure of the Legislature to prevent the state from needing IOUs amounts to some serious bad parenting, in Jacksonian terms. Whether you want to blame Gov. Schwarzenegger for refusing to go along with the program, or Democrats for refusing to make any substantive, lasting budget cuts is up to you. But one thing is clear – like Michael Jackson, we are in some serious need of adult supervision.

So who do we turn to? The voters? California Forward? Diana Ross?

Heck, I have no idea. But I can’t help but think that 30 years after Proposition 13, and 20 years after Proposition 98, we’ve gotten ourselves exactly the government that we deserve.

So, before we go about trying to blow the entire thing up, perhaps all of us should check in with that Man in the Mirror and think about how we got in to this mess, and more importantly, how we might begin to find a way to get out of it, before we, like Michael Jackson, head to a dangerous and premature end.

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