Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,
We’ve heard Brown, we’ve heard the Reeps, we’ve heard the touchy-feelies, we’ve heard the anti-taxers, we’ve even heard from Grover Norquist. So what happens now on the budget?
–Anxious in Anaheim

Dear Anxious,
Nothing now, a lot next month. Beware the Ides of March.

What this state really needs right now is a cadre of ballsy centrist Republicans who aren’t afraid to tell Norquist – not to mention John and Ken – to get lost.

If Norquist wants to fix California, let him run for office.  I ran for governor and lost; maybe Norquist can do better. I’ve still got my legacy, such as it is, but all he’s got is a track record stained by his relationship with Jack Abramoff. Why does any California Republican listen to this guy?

Political parties reinvent themselves every so often. The GOP that had the spirit of Maddy, Monagan and Reagan – all of whom could cut a deal with Democrats that left both sides smiling – is long gone. I’m long gone, too, but I’m still smiling, even though I got outfoxed by Reagan on UC tuition. But, as the barkeep said in Irma La Douce, that’s another story.

With almost every Reep signing the no-tax pledge, they have boxed themselves in and left little room to negotiate, even if they wanted to. And a half-dozen want to, I’m told privately.Very privately.

But getting Republicans to buck the no-tax wall would be like getting Democrats in L.A. – or anywhere for that matter – to buck the unions. It would take courage on both sides. And it would take courage by Brown, too, because if he smacks the unions, he smacks the people who got him elected.

Brown already has stuck his neck out: He offered a budget of cuts and taxes, and he immediately drew fire from just about everybody. When he demanded that Republicans put up their own plan, they refused. Bam! Brown won a big one there.

I always thought Brown, for all his cerebral polish, was a tap-dancing, finger-in-the-wind, expedient, corrosively ambitious, symbol-driven politician. A man after my own heart. And he’s getting better as he gets older.

And he’s not playing it safe. That’s the thing: He’s not playing it safe, which is exactly what the state needs right now.

He’s likely going to serve just one term, so he doesn’t have to play it safe. His successor is up in the air. One possibility: Treasurer Bill Lockyer who’s making sounds lately like he’s running for something.

I say go for it, Bill. I’d vote for you, even though I am dead. I’ve heard that sometimes the cemeteries provide voters’ names, so my ballot might get counted after all.

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