Zero hour is approaching, leaving Whitman and Brown with no choice but to take off the gloves; they are also throwing low blows, elbows, and head butting in an effort to gain the upper hand. Both camps in the running for Governor of California have deteriorated from ads and speeches outlining what the can do for you to underhanded tactics of what the other candidate is willing to do to you. Whether it is inadvertent name calling, smear ads, or even the occasional cross-dressing bassist, both parties have been savvy in waiting until the summer to paint each other with brushes that should be reserved for undercard cock fight promoters and dog fighters.
Public debates have been held recently, the last of which was mediated by Tom Brokaw Tuesday Oct. 12, and so far the candidates have spent more time defending their respective scandals and gnashing teeth than speaking about serious issues and constructive plans; or at least that is what is grabbing the headlines. Debates have been mired by uncomfortable admissions, defense of past actions (or inactions), and apologies to one another or the California public for “unfortunate” or “inexcusable” choices. One of my favorite things about these debates is watching to grown adults dig at one another with thinly veiled backhanded insults, while rarely looking at each other as if their opponent is not 25 feet from them on a televised debate.
Whitman has probably had more of her own scandal than Brown. Whitman’s first hurdle was the explanation of her complete lack of a voting record coupled with the fact that she was not a registered republican until very recently. She did a very poor job of defending this saying she was too busy, moved around a lot, and remembers voting at one point, though proof of this was not forthcoming. Whitman then had to try and defend her ridiculous amount of personal expenses and contributions to her campaign, now in excess of 140 million dollars (a record for personal campaign donations), leading me to believe she cannot garner the public favor she needs in the form of donations, or she is simply not even trying to appeal to the public. Then there is the bad hyperlink in a twitter message from her campaign on the 18th this month that linked readers to a mildly traumatic youtube video of what appears to be a cross-dressing man playing a bass guitar to some Asian pop song; http://bit.ly/bNCAV, wow Meg, epic fail.
Until after the primaries Brown was almost completely inactive in his campaigning like some meditating monk biding his time. He had little funding, had not officially filed the paperwork to run for Governor and seemed to not even know what was happening while people like Campbell, Poizner, and Newsom came and went. Jerry did have the incident of secretly recording a conversation with a reporter, which a staff member copped to and stepped down in an act of deflection and contrition. Brown spent the early part of the race not doing anything, since he had no real opponent on the democratic side, outside the self-destructive philanderer Gavin Newsom, and just watched as Whitman defiled Poizner every chance she got going in to the Primaries on radio, TV, and junk mail campaigns. He has been totally Ninja in waiting for the right moment to conjure up his arsenal of weapons and overwhelm Whitman in the final months, leaving her well-paid staff to scramble for a shred of ground to stand on.
More recently the bar has been lowered with awful and degrading TV campaign ads with each candidate chopping the legs out from under one another. One accused of raising taxes, the other wanting to destroy the central delta, and another basically accusing Meg of selling out our kids for eliminating capital gains tax for the rich. What more it is not even intelligent rhetoric or BS. All the ads are color coded and designed to leave you with little information but carefully crafted words which out of context mean almost nothing. Ads throw a ton of information at you and even if it may be wildly misleading they are almost all within the legal rights of the candidate despite being inexcusable and unconscionable. Gurus whip up quick and flashy ads with appropriate toning and music accompaniment. Think I am off? Watch any ad on youtube and you will find dark colors, black and white pictures, and foreboding during the accusations, but when it cuts to the ads sponsor the lights come up, everyone is smiling and even fonts may change to show more eloquence and humanity in an ad; like the candidate lives in a warming filter with baskets full of kitties and their opponent eats babies in the night to keep poll numbers high in the rural counties.
Brown’s camp took the morally gray area lead by dropping the bomb of the illegal immigrant that worked for Whitman for nine years; this has rocked her camp, being that she has taken no prisoners with her position on immigration. Enter the charming Gloria Allred, a professional phlyarologist known for salacious and shocking defense of some of pop culture’s most questionable characters. Known for her association with cases like OJ, Michael Jackson, Robert Blake, Scott Peterson, and not to mention the Catholic Church sexual abuse cases; Gloria has made a name for exploiting her pulpit as much as defending the almost indefensible. The moment she stepped up and put her client of television to point her out as an illegal alien with no thought to her possibly getting deported or jailed, Gloria stamped this circus with her seal of “ridiculous.” I am convinced that deep inside Allred is a greasy, portly ambulance chaser from Brooklyn ornately decorated in gold jewelry and an ill-fitting suit with a law degree from a fly-by-night online University, trying to break out; think Danny DeVito in The Rainmaker.
Brown stumbled in to another classless move after the immigrant fiasco in the form of another private conversation caught on tape. After leaving a voicemail for a union representative Brown and his advisors thought the call had ended…it had not, and during a private conversation an as not yet revealed campaign member suggested that Whitman was a “whore” in reference to her willingness to do anything for a union endorsement. Brown was heard saying he was willing to go along with calling her that. (would that make the Governor’s Mansion “The Best Little Whorehouse in Sacramento” if she wins, and her Dolly Parton in this scenario?) If Whitman were a male candidate this would have been laughed off without a second thought, being that she is a “she” he apologized for his comment at the most recent debate which fell on deaf ears. Whitman took the opportunity to skewer Brown saying that it was not about her, it was that the California people deserved better than name calling and slurs. Her campaign issued a statement when the recording was turned over to Whitman’s team by the union rep, saying that the word and context was an affront to not only Whitman but all California women; what this comment had to do with housewives in Temecula I will never know. Despite this egregious, albeit cathartic foible, Brown is somehow leading Whitman in a very recent Rasmussen poll 50% to 44% of likely voters; either “whore” hasn’t retained its hutzpah in our age or all too many of you agree with the sentiment.
I don’t take an issue with this comment and have no problem with the Brown camp calling her a whore in a private conversation. I would not have a problem if Whitman called Brown an asshole or a mean old fucker, privately. Why does this not matter? They are private conversations amongst team members and vilifying the enemy is an act of bonding for a cause. I am sure the candidates think things much worse than what we hear. When I was coming up as a little tike I played little league baseball and we had one opponent that was sponsored by Fuddrucker’s Restaurant. Amongst our pre-pubescent teammates we called them “Ruddfucker’s” as a way to laugh, emasculate them, and bolster our confidence. Am I equating these politicians with 11 year old children or vis-a-versa? No, but it’s a convenient correlation is it not?
Political campaigns all start out the same with civility and never directly addressing one candidate or another, but they quickly degrade in to English duels with one candidate walking up, slapping them with a glove, and challenging them to a match of pistols in the form of late round debates. But what we are seeing here in California, and to a greater extent across America in so many races, is a race that has degraded in to an illegal bare-knuckle fight in an abandoned parking garage, or maybe it’s more of a bum fight in a urine stained Skid Row alley over a porterhouse. From campaign start to finish candidates today seem to be devolving from upright walking homo-sapiens to the level of poo-chucking apes; I would go even further and suggest that if you look hard enough at a mid-term election circa September humanity will discover the long sought “missing link” with a American flag pin in its lapel.
What does this say about us? Well, we love a good show, shocking moments and sub-human behavior; look no further than our fascination with Jersey Shore. In these closing weeks all over the country campaigns are firing off both barrels to sabotage their opponents. Pundits are criticizing and scrutinizing for the good of their party, and Obama is doing all he can to save the party majority…though we are only one band away from relegating this majority to the past tense (and maybe it’s for the best). With Whitman and Brown it is just another race, but this one is for the 8th largest international economy and the most populous state in the union at a pivotal time; you think they would keep the name calling to a minimum given the gravity. Either way you go, with liberal Jerry Brown or the newly minted conservative Whitman, someone is going to have some buyer’s remorse, but as time dwindles down and the candidates get desperate the show is nothing more than a couple of people hamming it up, wild-eyed grins on their sweat soaked faces doing a frantic version of the shuffle in stolen tap shoes.