Audience Loses First Brown/Whitman Debate

A viewing party of east L.A.County Democrats enjoyed watching former California governor Jerry Brown outmaneuver former eBay official Meg Whitman in the first California gubernatorial debate.

The gang at Russ Warner headquarters in Claremont got plenty of applause lines from Brown, who presented as smoother, better informed and -- in his peculiar, dry, pleasure-sucking way -- more energetic than Republican Whitman. (Warner, the host of this TV party, is running for Congressman in the Golden State's 26th district, a seat being defended by David Dreier.)

Whitman's best punch of the night came when she charged Brown with running away from his own record as the "education mayor" of Oakland. In the same flurry she also scored a glancing blow against Brown's opposition to Proposition 13, the state's landmark property tax limitation.

Other than that, it was Brown's night. It goes without saying that Jerry Brown is a zen fascist führer who will send the suede denim police to take away my uncool niece. And my inclination whenever a man and woman compete is to back the woman and find any excuse for her lousy performance. Finally, Whitman's general (very general) references to free market capitalism were just the song I was in the mood for. I even appreciated (without quite converting to) her economic case for the death penalty: that it's cheaper to fry the death row population than to keep them alive.

But I recognized Whitman tonight as a species I got to know all too well during my dotcom days: the dull, untutored powerpointillist with a genius for changing the subject the moment her talking points start to fail. The second time you're using the old Einstein's-definition-of-insanity chestnut in one night is twice too many.

Brown also undermined Whitman's credibility by noting that she cravenly excluded cops and firefighters -- who represent a fourth of the state's total pension liability and are well represented in pension "spiking" and related abuses -- from her plans for pension reform.

While Jerry Brown, like Sen. Barbara Boxer in her debate with Carly Fiorina, waged class warfare against Whitman, he didn't engage in Boxer's vapid and gushy condemnations of outsourcing or try to make an issue of Whitman's wealth. Instead, he described Whitman's contributor base strictly in terms of political quid pro quo. This may or may not have deflected Whitman's very important complaint that Brown is beholden to unions, but it demonstrated his familiarity with the practice of California politics. And in this debate it was Whitman, the career non-voter, who needed to prove her understanding of how government works.

In fact, while it was to be expected that Brown would try to get a few digs in against government employees in this era of Bob Rizzo and the pension buffet, he distanced himself from his union patrons repeatedly, with references to having said no to organized labor several times during his own career. (All of which I'm sure will turn out to be bullshit once somebody checks it out, but still!)

It's not clear whether the remote audience in Claremont (the actual debate was at UC Davis) even registered all that tough-on-unions baloney. My incomplete and informal canvas turned up no private-sector employees and little awareness that California even has a pension crisis that worries both Republicans and Democrats.

I did get a fairly decent level of libertarian recognition, though. One Brown supporter asked if libertarianism is "what Bill Maher is for," while another immediately recognized the "free minds and free markets" slogan as a libtertoid tell and ended our conversation. (Just more support for my campaign to change Reason's slogan to "Arbeit macht frei.")

Except for one query on the candidates' plans to address the state's perpetual water shortage, the questions were uniformly dull, and it was a pretty substanceless debate.

A month ago, if you'd asked me to build a scenario in which one Republican wins a prominent California race and another loses, I'd have picked the hail and well met Whitman as the winner and the weird, offputting Fiorina as the loser. One debate in, I think I might be ready to reverse that.

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  • Rudan||

    "It goes without saying that Jerry Brown is a zen fascist führer who will send the suede denim police to take away my uncool niece."

    Mellow out or you will pay!

    It's worth it just to make that song relevant again.

  • ryback's cook||

    When did it become irrelevant?

  • ß||

    Jedermann sein eigner testesschutz!

  • ah||

    "The second time you're using the old Einstein's-definition-of-insanity chestnut in one night is twice too many."

    Hell yeah. It's shallow near-nonsense and people continue to invoke it as though it is fact.

  • ||

    I dare you to say that again.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Hell yeah. It's shallow near-nonsense and people continue to invoke it as though it is fact.
    How is it nonsense?

    When you let go of something after holding it above the ground, it always falls down, not up .

    Do you think that on the one thousandth time, letting go of something will cause it to fall up?

  • ||

    If you let go of something after holding it above the ground an infinite number of times, it will fall up at least half of those times--i.e. an infinate number, likewise, it will fall down at least as often as it falls up.

    If one looks at the big(infinately enormous) picture, the thing is as likely to fall down as it is to sprout wings and swim off into a sky full of marshmallow engine parts.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    LOL

  • ah||

    I'm just sayin' - invoking the musings of a physicist to substantiate a rhetorical claim that some allegedly misguided behavior, generally having nothing to do with physical laws, is "insane" is a weak strategy, and I'm tired of hearing it.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Sure but it's not the definition of insanity. It's not even one of the most common behaviors among insane people. It's just a platitude you hear in a business meeting or church.

    I'm glad Webster got there before Einstein, that would have been a confusing and inaccurate dictionary.

  • ah||

    Thank you, Fiscal Meth.

  • The Thinking Man's NASCAR||

    "And my inclination whenever a man and woman compete is to back the woman and find any excuse for her lousy performance."

    The soft bigotry of low expectations?

  • ||

    The cold calculation that, should the woman win, there's always the chance for victory sex for supporters--or concilliatory sex if she loses.*


    *This rationale gets pushed to the back of the mind if one does not find the woman in question particularly attractive, but it's still there.

  • hmm||

    Can we sell California to Mexico yet?

    Maybe get some tacos and weed.

  • ||

    Fuck no. The tacos and weed are already in Mexico.

  • ||

    ack. Already in California I mean.

  • Max||

    Don't fucking reversed anything, Cavanaugh, you simpering hack. Change it completely to clear wins for Boxer and Brown. Down with libertoid wishful thinking.

  • ryback's cook||

    Down boy! Down! Max is in heat again...

  • Max's mom||

    Max! Am I going to have to wash those sheets AGAIN?

  • Old Mexican||

    Max, you forgot to take your medication. It's in the top cabinet, to the right.

  • ||

    This is interesting--

    while another immediately recognized the "free minds and free markets" slogan as a libertoid tell and ended our conversati

    when Max said--

    Down with libertoid wishful thinking

    interesting indeed.....

  • Max's Mom||

    Okay, young man... no pussy for you tonight.

  • alan||

    The second time you're using the old Einstein's-definition-of-insanity chestnut in one night is twice too many.

    Yeah, but at least Second Sky got a pretty decent tune out of that old chestnut.

  • ||

    Fine article title, Tim.

  • ||

    If Governor-fucking-Moonbeam won't stand up for legal weed then, really, he should just sink gracefully to the bottom of the Pacific.

  • BakedPenguin||

    None of those assholes will. Considering the measure is currently polling a slight majority, it's not like it would take (politically) suicidal bravery to say "yes, I think marijuana should be legal".

    All fucking politicians who support the WoD ought to be forced on a month long fact-finding tour of Cuidad Juarez with only Mexican cops to guard them.

  • ||

    Of course they don't support Prop 19--the 'individual liberty' angle that liberaltarians cling so desperately to was never real--it was just a convenient club to bash the right(whose stated goals lead to legalisation whether so-cons like it or not).

    The left wants nothing to interfere with the shaping of the New Progressive humanity. And escaping through drugs will interfere.

  • MNG||

    It's exactly because of this juvenile and stale "Governor Moonbeam" meme that Jerry Brown would get butchered in the press if were to come out for legalization. Can you imagine the headlines and editorials if the "Moonbeam" governor wanted to legalize TEH POT?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    True - look at how Gary Johnson gets treated for his stance on drug laws - but at least Johnson has the courage to stand up against them. Brown does not.

  • ||

    Good luck to California. Just don't expect us to pay your bills. No tenemos dinero.

  • Rich||

    It's going to get quite interesting when "Federal tax dollars" are to be used for bailing out *several* insolvent states. I suspect some folks might react more strongly than just uttering "buena suerte".

  • BeltwayLurker||

    Cavanaugh is the new Weigel.

  • MNG||

    To those who see the world through team Red Goggles perhaps...I mean really, work the ref much?

  • Rich||

    send the suede denim police to take away my uncool niece

    Returned for regrooving.

  • JoshINHB||

    Meg and Carly are running two of the worst campaigns that I've ever seen.

    It seems that they are both listening to the advice of political experts that are telling them to "moderate' their positions for the general election. The result is they are appealing to no one.

  • MNG||

    "It seems that they are both listening to the advice of political experts that are telling them to "moderate' their positions for the general election."

    Dude, it's California, moderation is the best strategy...

  • ||

    But this is the year to actually stand for something. As much as I would like to defend them, Josh is right. Neither one them seem to have a single independent thought or anything to say beyond meaningless talking points. Sadly, it makes sense. You don't get to be a CEO these days by having any balls.

    Sadly, California may be headed for third world status.

  • MNG||

    I thought you said her making CEO was THE GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT!!! Now you say such a thing only happens to the ball-less....

  • ||

    It is. And I said that the fact that Fiorina wasn't the greatest CEO in history doesn't disqualify her from being a Senator. Running a terrible campaign in contrast does. She still might win because Boxer might be the worst Senator in a hundred years or at the very least in the top 10. But, Fiorina's campaign is terrible. She should be killing Boxer.

  • MNG||

    I dunno John. I grant this is a conservative year, but California is still California, and you have to know your audience. Scott Brown did win Mass, but he didn't sound like Jeff Sessions...

    Boxer's a slippery, Protean witch who will clutch at any straw and twist to any position to save her throne. She's never been easy to write off...

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Scott Brown did win Mass, but he didn't sound like Jeff Sessions...


    It helped that he was running against Martha Coakley.

  • Geotpf||

    I personally believe that Coakley lost that race more than Brown won it.

  • cynical||

    Is that a reference to the fact that they don't have any balls?

  • hmm||

    Dude, it's California, moderation retardation is the best strategy...

    fixed for ya.

  • ||

    "And my inclination whenever a man and woman compete is to back the woman and find any excuse for her lousy performance."

    WTF? Is this Reason or Feministing?

  • MNG||

    Maybe he's just acknowledging his heterosexual bias?

  • ||

    Maybe. But I would qualify that as "my inclination whenever a man and an attractive woman...". And if he thinks Witman is attractive, he is worse off than I thought.

  • hmm||

  • ||

    That link is to Reason and not Tiger Beat as I thought.

  • MNG||

    "she cravenly excluded cops and firefighters -- who represent a fourth of the state's total pension liability and are well represented in pension "spiking" and related abuses -- from her plans for pension reform."

    Hey, that's the state level GOP equivalent of the national GOP: "we're going to cut government spending, right after we increase defense spending!"

    Spending on other people's pet projects is bad!

  • ||

    (Just more support for my campaign to change Reason's slogan to "Arbeit macht frei.")

    First, Katherine Mangu-Ward throws some hapless schoolteacher off a bridge, now this. No wonder people fear and despise libertarianism.

    Keep up the good work.

  • ||

    Every time I hear something about Jerry Brown I like, I remember that he's face down in the lap of the public service unions and recoil in disgust. It's like hearing your favorite author claim Dan Brown as the greatest writer mankind's ever known. Some opinions call your entire thought process into ill-repute.

  • MNG||

    "I remember that he's face down in the lap of the public service unions"

    Hmm, so that's what Linda Rondstadt saw in him...

  • ||

    All Linda was saying is that she wasn't ready for any person, place or thing to try and pull the reins in on her.

  • ||

    Meg Whitman looks like a representation of a human sculpted from mashed potatoes.

    I suspect nothing she says contradicts that impression.

  • Zeb||

    Did Einstein really say that stupid crap about the definition of insanity? I have a hard time believing that he did. For one thing, that is an example of insanity, not a definition.

  • ||

    I wonder that to. It reeks of urban myth.

  • ah||

    Well, often as not I've heard it repeated but attributed to no one. Apparently, there are a few frequent suspects.

    Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.

    * Rita Mae Brown, Sudden Death (Bantam Books, New York, 1983), p. 68 (attributed to Jane Fulton).
    * This and variations on it have also been variously attributed to Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and an old Chinese proverb.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Insanity

  • ||

    Brown could probably put this election away if he came out in favor of legalization. I doubt it will run off many of his current supporters, but it might give people who aren't motivated to vote a reason to go to the polls. Whitman's base are already motivated to vote, but I wonder if Brown's is.

  • Old Mexican||

    Whitman's general (very general) references to free market capitalism were just the song I was in the mood for[...]

    But I recognized Whitman tonight as a species I got to know all too well during my dotcom days: the dull, untutored powerpointillist with a genius for changing the subject the moment her talking points start to fail.

    So far, I do not believe a former CEO of a company that dances the dance with government, cheek-to-cheek, would have ANYTHING serious to say about free market economics.

    Jerry Brown is perfect for California, by the way - somebody ready and willing to give the state up to the unions. Next, he will have to build a fence around the whole state just to keep people from running to Texas . . . or Nevada.

  • djd562||

    The same old song and dance... State employees again are the targets of a political race. Rather than bash unions and their employees that seek representation from employer abuse, how 'bout we move to ensure MORE hard-working people in the private sector are protected from billionaire CEO's greed at their expense. Oh, and the "pension crisis" the state pension system has run a surplus for most of its existence. Since it is based on investments, it took a hit recently in the recent recession, LIKE EVERY OTHER INVESTMENT VEHICLE. The "pension crisis" will correct as the economy recovers. In fact the system saw a 17% return on investment in the last fiscal year. I think it's working pretty good, and will back to a surplus as it was prior to 2007. Check the FACTS people!!!

  • joe||

    ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF!!!

  • cynical||

    What do public sector unions have to do with billionaire CEOs or capitalist greed?

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Do not forget that as attorney general, Brown refuses to do his job, unlike his counterpart in Texas, Greg Abbott.

  • djd562||

    Finally... A someone actually said in a public forum that GOVERNMENT CANNOT BE RUN LIKE A BUSINESS. It cannot, never was intended to, and should NEVER be run like a business! A business exists to make money. A government exists to provide service to citizens. Imagine your local fire department run like a business. Your home is on fire? Ok, great, so how will putting out your fire improve the fire department's bottom line?

  • Adonisus||

    His aura smiles, and never frowns....

  • djd562||

    I can't believe Brown missed an opportunity at the beginning to rebut Whitman's desire to roll back regulation in California just like Texas. Did we all forget the worse environmental disaster in US history which just occured off the coast of Texas? Let's not forget that just like most other billionaire CEOs, Whitman would love to sell the Great State of California to anyone at ANY cost. Do we really desire to follow in the footsteps of Texas?? Really? BTW, ever rent a car in Texas? Taxes and fees almost DOUBLE the actual rental rates. No state has a free ride... you pay one way or another. Don't believe her bullsh*t!

  • ||

    As a Texas resident, I approve the above message...if only to keep the people who believe this out.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    djd is just another statist troll. Ignore him/her/it.

  • djd562||

    Hey... what happened with the Texas secession movement? Where can I contribute to this so they can leave and we can build a fence to keep them out of the US forever? Oh, to dream!

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm ready for djd563.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Semi-threadjack

    I'm looking to get out of evil fucked up California. I'm thinking of moving to Omaha, NE. Can anyone tell me how Omaha is as far as business restrictions and nanny laws? Is there a site that ranks these things by state or city?
    Thanks.

  • djd562||

    What are you waiting for? Oh, and please don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    I don't think you need to go through a door to leave but thanks for the warning. Have fun chasing all the productive people out of the state. Sweet dreams you compassionate progressive California dreamer you.

  • ||

    Business only gets in the way of teh pot.

  • ||

    Did we all forget the worse environmental disaster in US history which just occured off the coast of Texas?

    You are aware, that

    (1) Deepwater Horizon was off the coast of Louisiana, not Texas?

    (2) The federal government, not the states, regulates offshore drilling safety?

  • ||

    Leave him alone he is rolling. Did it really matter if it was the Germans who bombed Pearle Harbor? Didn't think so.

  • ||

    "references to having said no to organized labor several times during his own career. (All of which I'm sure will turn out to be bullshit once somebody checks it out"
    Jerry Brown laid off every engineering employee at Caltrans with less than ten years. He vetoed a raise for state employees while allowing one for welfare and had to be overridden.
    Maybe you should "check out" your own "bullshit".

  • ||

    Could it be that these two republican women are falling in the polls because they look better on paper than in real life or are people finding out who they real are? Lets face it Carly Fiorina was basically fired from HP, but not before she sent HP USA jobs overseas. California has already tried a so-called outsider Independent Republican, his name Arnold Schwarzenegger, we all know how that turned out. Meg Whitman, thinks she can buy the election, but what puzzles many is if she real cared and loved California then why not do your civic duty and vote, seems she is more rhetoric than anything (in good times we would give her a try but not in our disaster mode that we are in). She is finding out that California is not for sale and that you can’t buy everything! What a waste of money!

  • ||

    I can see spending some other guy's money to 'win' the Cali Governer's job but your own? Did anyone buy a ticket for the Titanic.....as it was sinking?

  • Dylboz||

    Why is a dude named Montana referring to California in the 1st person plural?

  • Ruth||

    FYI: there is an economic case AGAINST the death penalty, not for it. Yes, the costs of incarcerating an inmate for life is pretty high, but you are forgetting the cost of drawn out appeals, etc that actually end up costing the state more.

  • ||

    CLAWING BACK DEFERRED PAY: THE COLORADO GUIDE

    Obviously, legislators around the country are not quite as sophisticated as their counterparts in Colorado. It never occurred to them that they could just pass a bill stating “Oh, by the way, we are no longer bound by our contractual obligations.” Simplicity itself! This approach makes life much easier in difficult budgetary times, and takes the burden off of GASB, state and local governments, plan sponsors and the SEC!

    Under Colorado’s “contract breachin’ plan”. . . . . you simply seize vested, accrued, earned, contracted benefits from retirees and pension members (incredibly, with the help of your local union lobbyists) until your unfunded pension liabilities are sufficiently reduced to raise your funded ratio. This plan also improves the status of your bonded debt (keepin’ those SEC fellas happy).

    If you’re as brazen as we are in Colorado you claim that your goal is to achieve a 100 percent funded ratio, instead of the 80 percent level that is considered well-funded in the industry. May as well go for the full 100 percent, no one understands all this pension mumbo jumbo out here in the west.

    The 100 percent goal provides lots of wiggle room for unexpected investment shortfalls, or needed under-funding in the future. Also, here’s another ingenious provision that we invented. If it happens that God provides you with a lame pension investment staff, they consistently underperform their benchmarks (last year we underperformed by about a billion), and accordingly you have an investment loss for the year, no problemo, just state in the bill you enact that retiree contracted benefits will be further cut to accommodate the loss! My guess is that when pension investment staff around the country hear about this sweet no-accountability gig they are going to beat a path to Colorado PERA. Where can I get that kind of a job? To be fair, credit for finding this solution should go to the bright administrators at Colorado PERA. You can imagine how difficult it is psychologically to advocate a course of action that you yourself have earlier declared illegal, (see this excellent Denver Post article.) http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_11105271

    We know it's burdensome for busy pension administrators (particularly short timers) to have to tell elected officials that they really ought to make their annual required contributions . . . it’s much easier to just let those unfunded liabilities build up year after year after year, until you have a good pile, then wipe the slate clean with a good contract breachin’!

    Our Colorado pension administrators are straight shooters. They’ve been telling us for a couple years now, “We can’t invest our way out of this.” Now they’re keeping their word . . . by missing their investment performance benchmarks by wide margins.

    Meeting contractual obligations? Performing your fiduciary duty? Acting in a moral fashion? No need to fret about these things. We looked into it in Colorado and dang if they haven’t been optional all along. Hello state and local governments . . . round up those rascally debt problems and herd ‘em out west to us in Colorado, we’ll fix ‘em right good fer ya!
    (Visit saveperacola.com for more info.)

  • Nike Dunk High Women||

    thanks

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