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Blog: I'll Vote Brown. No, Whitman. No, Coleman.

(originally written 9/29/10)

(Yes, I am aware that Gary Coleman is no longer alive, and by rule, ineligible to seek or accept nomination for Governor of California. I was simply making a joke. I do that. Though it would be cool to see such a small Arnold succeed such a large one.)

Tuesday evening’s debate amongst Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman was not meant to be a hard-hitting slugfest, and it wasn’t. It wasn’t meant to be a forum for either candidate to outline specific ideas and plans to “fix” California, and it wasn’t. It was meant as a chance for Californians who don’t live and breathe politics to absorb a little background on the person who will be running their state shortly—without the cloak of rehearsal. No ominous music, bad photos, and out-of-context quotes making anyone come off as Lucifer reincarnated.

I went into this debate unsure of whom to cast my vote for.
I left it the same way.

Whitman’s entire approach to winning votes, at least through her advertisements, is to make Brown appear dated, incompetent and dishonest. Which basically says voting Meg is voting by default (remember: Gary Coleman is ineligible due to his dead status). I could NOT imagine, after weeks of regular TV attacks, what they could have possibly said to one another as they shook hands upon introduction. “I won’t say anything about YOUR hair if you don’t say anything about MINE” is about all that makes any sense.

I don’t want to vote for someone just because the other guy sucks. I want to see what that candidate him/herself has to offer. I need to stand by my vote, and so do you, I’m sure.

Whitman wants to “reform” welfare. She wants to secure our borders. She wants to improve education. Well, finally, a gubernatorial candidate with new ideas. Why didn’t anybody ELSE think to improve education? So far, she doesn’t have my vote.

Jerry Brown’s approach against Meg Whitman is…wait until the very last second to run, and hope she doesn’t have the time or wherewithal to mount a decent attack. THAT sure worked. Brown was governor before, when I was but a young lad, and from what I’ve read and the people I’ve talked to, he wasn’t terrible. But this California is a lot different from the post-hippie California. 

When questioned about his focus and dedication to the job, Brown quipped that as a now-married man, he will not be able to “close the bars” anymore. Well, that’s exactly what I want in a candidate—a guy who either wants or NEEDS to stay out drinking away the stress of the job and will only stop to prevent his wife from nagging. So far, he doesn’t have my vote—I’m not impressed with either of them.

Whitman, throughout the debate, went out of her way to discredit and ridicule Brown—and seemed to enjoy it. She already comes off as a rich, pretentious snob whose nose is so high up in the air that the FAA monitors it. The debate did nothing to alter that image.  Her tactics were obviously meant to deflect away from her own weaknesses—namely her inexperience, indifference to voting herself in the past, and a growing belief she’s only running for office to pass the time.

Brown, early on, kept his composure when under Whitman’s attacks and even discredited a couple of them. He did rattle somewhat at times while strongly defending his time as Oakland’s mayor, but never sunk to Whitman’s level. Of course, that’s largely because Whitman has no political experience to criticize. He seemed all at once like the “everyman” who loves his state and wants to see it prosper, and the beaten-down politician desperately trying to score one last big payday before Father Time rears his ugly head.

I was pleased to see two of my biggest concerns raised at the debate: the death penalty and the prosperity of small businesses. Whitman expressed eagerness to “streamline” red tape involved in starting such businesses and took a firm stance FOR the death penalty. Whitman also stated her desire to accelerate the appeal process for those on death row. I can’t understand WHY such appeals drag on for decades to save my life (pun intended). If she still wants to do that upon election, and is successful, I will be quite pleased.

Brown, OTOH, waffled on his death penalty stance. Most everyone knows he’s basically against it, but he seemed all but afraid to come out and say so. Instead, he said he wanted to guarantee first-class legal representation for convicts on death row. I am well aware, and long ago accepted, that all inmates and convicts have rights under the Constitution. That said, in this economy, I can think of about a zillion programs I’d want to see my tax dollars spent than on a lawyer for some beast who raped and killed a kid. Yes, some death row inmates are falsely convicted. But a high percentage of them are deservedly convicted. 

Momentarily, I’m swayed toward Whitman, which is no small feat, as I have voted Democrat in every state and national election since gaining the right (although I did support the recall of Gray Davis—that was mostly because of the outrageous $1.50/gallon price of gas. But I'm not here to talk about the past.)

Just then, Brown redeemed himself. When Whitman, as is her M.O., hammered Brown with what she thinks is ineffective crime reduction as Oakland mayor—besides don a mask and cape at night, what could ANY one man do to stop the mayhem in that city—he mentioned his unanimous support from the California Police Chiefs Association and the fact that should he be elected, his own inflated pension would be deferred for years. Whitman wants to raise the retirement age of public servants to 65. That’s all I need—I’m trapped in a burning building, but the firefighters are too busy giving each other CPR to pull my ass out. 

Plus, when Whitman accused him of likely ending up indebted to special interests (whereas she funded her own campaign), Brown retorted that our current Governator didn’t owe anybody, either—a thinly-veiled shot at Schwarznegger’s unremarkable tenure that left Whitman searching.

So, 2/3 of the way through the debate, I’m right back at square one—I don’t fully endorse either candidate. Am I gonna pull a Meg and not vote at all? Not when there’s millions of people wanting to vote who can’t. I have to vote for ONE of them and live with it. Whitman did herself no favors with the illegal maid revelation the day after making a decisive pledge to secure the border. It’s not that she hired an illegal; it’s that she misrepresented herself (a politician doing THAT?). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to catch the final 20 minutes or so, as Josie decides on a whim that the glass in our building needs breaking, and her voice is just the tool to do it.

They say in politics that a candidate is sunk if one of the following is found in his bed: a dead girl, or a live boy. Has there ever been a better time for such a scandal to unfold? It would sure make Decision 2010 a HELL of a lot easier for me, that’s for sure…

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