Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,
Call me a frustrated Obama voter. Tax cuts for the rich? Are you serious? Who should Democrats turn to in 2012?
–Bob in Chico

Dear Bob,

Fighting a sitting president of your own party in a primary takes chutzpah, balls of brass, a tinge of mental instability and a lot of arrogance. Naturally, I thought of Jerry Brown.

I know, he’s just been elected governor, so why would he run for president?

But isn’t that what California governors do? Especially ones named Jerry Brown.

He did it in 1976, the year after he took office, and he did it in 1980, a year after he started his second term – and he challenged fellow Democrat Jimmy Carter. Remember him?

Party labels mean far less to Brown than power – in fact, that’s true of most politicians – so the spectacle of Brown running for president in 2012 is by no means out of the question. Before this year’s gubernatorial election, if somebody had told me that an eBay billionaire would run for governor and get thrashed by the peripatetic Brown after a $200 million-plus campaign, I wouldn’t have believed it.

But if that same person said, ‘You watch: If Brown is elected governor, he’ll run for president in 2012,’ I would have no problem believing it. I’ve seen this movie before.

Now, granted, there are a million reasons why it won’t happen. For one thing, it would be suicidal for the party. You think Dems had a bad time this fall? Wait ‘til an election where African American folks stay away like it’s a Lawrence Welk concert. Mark my words: Obama is the only Dem with a chance to be elected president in two years. If that bums you out, just close your eyes and picture the first Wednesday in November, 2004.

But back to Jerry: Just dream with me for a moment…

Jerry, Anne and Dharma in the snows of New Hampshire? Even if there’s not a snowball chance in Fresno that it will happen, we Californians are entitled to imagine that it might.

But I know, the Geritol factor is not insignificant. Ronald Reagan was 69 when he was elected president; Jerry Brown is 72 now. If by chance he was elected president, he’d be 74 when he took office and would turn 75 three months later. That’s pretty old, and in a second term it’s a lot older. I mean, that’s end-game-in-the-sunset, getting-gaga, dribbling old.

Perhaps the real story here is that this is a different Jerry Brown. You’ve seen the bumper sticker “Too old to die.” Perhaps, finally, Jerry Brown is too old to run. But if that’s true, what’s he doing here? Does he intend to actually try to govern?

Say it ain’t so, Jerry. Say it ain’t so.

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