Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Moonbeam" & the "MegHead"

image:: Linda Ronstadt & Jerry Brown, Newsweek cover, April 1979

Crossposted on ThickCulture

Meg Whitman may have more more money than good sense, despite hiring a cadre of political consultants, but then again she's in a tough bind. She was challenged to a three-way bipartisan gubernatorial debate before the California primaries by Democrat Jerry Brown. The debate would include Brown, Meg Whitman and her fellow Republican challenger and Steve Poizner. Her response went from maybe to no, no meaning not until Jerry has a debate with his longshot Democratic challenger. All the while, Jerry has received a ton of press with his challenge.

Whitman {a billionaire} and Poizner {a multi-millionaire} have plenty of cash to spend and they're going to burn through it trying to get the Republican nomination. Brown's warchest is light, but he hasn't been spending. Meg was avoiding debating Steve, but finally succumbed last month. Poizner's approach has been to paint Whitman as not conservative enough, while Whitman tries to allow for more shades of grey on issues. In the long run, Whitman's strategy is what's needed to win the blue state of California, as Republican numbers favour Democrats and moderates need to be courted to win. A debate with both Poizner and Brown would be very risky for Whitman. From what I've seen, she's not quick on her feet and talks like a corporate executive who spends 15 minutes answering a question with, "it depends." A three-way debate would mean attacks from her right and her left. She would have to come across as a strong moderate that would enough appeal to more conservative Republicans and I'm not convinced she has the platform or the rhetorical chops to pull that off.

Love him or hate him, Jerry Brown is an interesting guy. When I was a kid, I remember him running for Governor in 1978, handily defeating his Republican challenger Evelle Younger. I also remember his nickname, Governor Moonbeam. He was dating Linda Rondstadt and I recall this corny political joke, "Linda Ronstadt started dating Jerry Brown when she realized she wasn't getting any Younger." Anyway.

Jerry made a bid for the presidency in 1976, 1980, and 1992. He was a credible threat to Bill Clinton in the primaries with grassroots campaigning and a toll-free contribution line. He also isn't afraid to get rough. Here he is going after Clinton by making Whitewater allegations::

I think he would give Poizner and Whitman a run for their money and having been in politics in the state since forever, he knows the beat.

Twitterversion:: Jerry Brown throws down gauntlet debate proposal vs. the millionaire & the billionaire. Shrewd PR move. #ThickCulture @Prof_K

Song:: Linda Ronstadt-'Blue Bayou'

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