There appears to be no clear breakout in the battle for California governor between the erstwhile Governor Moonbeam, Jerry Brown, and the New Tech eBayer, Meg Whitman. Polls at present show voters leaning slightly toward the Democrat.
Jerry Brown, as you know, was the Democratic governor once before, in his youth, so this is Brown 2.0--or by now, after a quarter century of iterations maybe about 9.0--and he's a little like Microsoft Word: a new version isn't always a better one.
Meg Whitman is a political novice, which in a year like this one with its anti-professional-politician mood, should work in her favor. And, she's a billionaire with a big war chest. But, in her present fight, with an experienced old pol like Brown, her shortage of canniness has hurt. She's a bit like the Queen Mary: her expensive machinery can keep her afloat, but she hasn't proved able to turn on a dime.
What we learned after Whitman's former (illegal Latina) housekeeper went on television in tears with her attorney--Democratic-friend-of-Jerry-and-high-profile-representative-of-weeping-women, Gloria Allred--were two important things: Allred wouldn't say who brought the lugubrious housekeeper to her, nor who is paying the legal bill.
So, we know all we need to know about that.
What Republican Meg Whitman was unable to do was to make use of this nasty trick, and turn it to her advantage. She should have said something like this:
"Since my former housekeeper has hired an attorney, I can't address this case directly. My family and I will be happy to answer any questions about this in court, rather than try this case, if it is a case, in the media." Then Whitman should have continued:
"But this is an illustration of the problems we all face with regard to illegal immigration. It's against the law to hire undocumented workers: but what are we to do with those who are here? Leave them to starve in the street? What is the right thing to do? The truth we must face is that they should not be here in the first place. Not because we don't like immigrants: we are a nation of immigrants."
"But they shouldn't be here because, while others are waiting in line for legal entry and citizenship, others have just jumped the line, crossed the border with the help of human traffickers, and entered our society secretly. This has caused problems for them, for our school systems, our health care systems, and our unions, among many others."
"Is there anyone in this room right now who has not had a native Spanish speaking person do some kind of work for them at their home or office this year? Have you asked each one to show you his or her visa and then called up INS to double check the information? Or were you concerned you might be guilty of profiling if you did that? Is this another case of Don't Ask Don't Tell? Why don't we set aside the political tricks and come up with solutions. That's what I did in business and that's what I can do as governor."
Now that would have been a productive touché. Turn the smear around. Because it is true: the real issue isn't Meg Whitman's housekeeper. The real issue is that we've lost control of our borders.
What goes around, comes around, though. After the "scandal" broke over Meg Whitman, someone in Jerry Brown's office was recorded in the background of a voicemail calling Meg Whitman a "whore." Rumor has it, it may have been Brown's wife, Anne Gust, the woman he married five years ago at age 68 after spending all his adult life as a bachelor. Gust is no Linda Ronstadt (who once followed Brown on his "learning tour" of Africa, much to the amusement of the Washington media) but then, Ronstadt is long past her expiration date, Brown-wise.
The son of former California governor, Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, Jerry Brown ran for his first office as a Trustee of the L.A. Community College system, in 1969, when he was 31. After winning that race, he served as California's Secretary of State, 1971-1975, and then was elected California governor, serving from from 1975-1983. But then his fortunes dimmed. He failed in his campaigns for president in 1976, 1980, and 1992, and for U.S. Senator in 1982.
During his years in the political wilderness, he never felt the call of private enterprise. He most famously served as mayor of Oakland, California, an unpleasant job in a crime-ridden city. More recently, he's been California's Attorney General, where he seems to have spent his time plotting another comeback. If he's done any work helping the INS track down and deport illegal aliens in California, it hasn't made the papers.
So, out here in the Golden State, in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, in a state with a GNP that is in the top ten in the world, we have a novice running against a retread to replace the Terminator. We can only hope for rescue in the last reel.