Big state, weak candidates.

In California’s primary races for the state’s two top positions — governor and senator — four cringe-worthy candidates won the party nominations.

On the Democratic side, Barbara “How-Dare-You-Call-Me-Ma’am” Boxer easily maintained her steely grip on the senatorial seat, while 17-time former governor Jerry Brown reappeared like an acid flashback from a bygone era to audition again for his old gig.

Meanwhile, over in the Republican camp, two insanely rich corporate CEOs essentially bought the nominations.

What did we Californians do to deserve this? In a state with 37 million people, these are the best four we’ve got?

Is This a Monster Movie or a Political Campaign?

Both Boxer and Brown are veritable dinosaurs, clambering out of the Political Tar Pits to lord over the landscape for another eon or two. Boxer has been in politics for 38 years, and has been a member of Congress for 28 years. In all that time her political positions have not evolved one bit. She is still running on the Vietnam-war era anti-military far-left populism which has fueled her career from the start. I can easily imagine her becoming the Helen Thomas of politicians, refusing to retire or go away well into her 90s as she dodders up and down the hallways of power spouting off mean-spirited tirades.

And as for Jerry Brown, I’m awestruck by his audacity. Like, dude, you’ve already been governor. Twice. And your freakin’ father was governor before that. Also twice. Between 1959 and 1983, there was only a brief interlude when somebody not named Brown was governor.

I think we need to stage an intervention. Jerry Brown is obviously addicted to politics. He’s been at it so long (41 years) he makes Boxer look like a madamoiselle, not a ma’am. Not only was he governor twice starting 35 years ago, but he’s also been California Secretary of State, Chairman of the California Democratic Party, Attorney General of California, candidate for Senate, three-time candidate for President of the United States, and when he ran out of high-profile offices to run for, he scraped the residue out of the bottom of his political bong and ran for Mayor of Oakland. I mean, nobody wants to be Mayor of Oakland. It’s what you settle for when you have the DTs and can’t get anything decent, like drinking cough syrup.

It’s time for some tough love with Jerry. Stop enabling him. He needs a trip to the Betty Ford Clinic, not the Governor’s mansion.

With these two embarrassments on the Democratic side, you’d think the Republicans would have a golden opportunity. But no. Instead, we get two clichés straight out of Central Casting, two nearly interchangeable zillionaires who decided it would be amusing to spend some pocket change — $70 million, $80 million, I lost track already — to dabble in politics and buy the governorship and a seat in the senate.

This was supposed to be the year of the grassroots candidate, the little guy, someone whose popularity is based on political ideals — not the financial might to buy 100% of available television airtime for political attack ads which broadcast night and day for months on end.

Jerry’s opponent for governor, Meg Whitman is, literally, a billionaire, but unfortunately when she gives a speech she sounds like one of those insincere financial advisors on a late-night PBS infomercial: Manage Your Wealth with Meg! All politicians use teleprompters or notes these days, but Meg is one of the few who foolishly imagines she can pretend she isn’t, her eyes desperately darting to the side between sentences, looking for her next cue while acknowledging the perfunctory applause. A populist she is not.

Carly Fiorina is facing off against Boxer for Senator, and she’s one of the few people who can make Boxer seem almost human. Fiorina has that icy stare of the kind of boss that makes hapless underlings yelp “Everybody look busy!” when she strides into the office. Her penchant for producing brutal below-the-belt attack ads only fuels the impression that she is not someone you want to meet in a dark alley.

But What About Ideology?

So far, I’ve only touched on the public’s shallow impression of these candidates; I haven’t really talked about what they stand for, or what their political positions are. In truth, voters generally base their opinions on candidates’ personas, not their ideologies. People such as Reagan and Obama won because each put forth an uplifting persona; their political agendas were less important to those naive swing voters, who usually pull the lever based on a candidate’s likeability factor.

Having said all this: Who will I vote for?

Between Whitman and Brown, I’d have to choose Whitman. Although I am somewhat repulsed by the notion of a billionaire like Whitman spending her way to victory, it’s patently obvious Jerry Brown has no plan whatsoever to save California from bankruptcy. He’s just running for office because he has no other job skills and doesn’t know what else to do with his life. He’s not a bad person, but he’s still locked into an antiquated old-school tax-and-spend mode and is a slave to partisan politics. And when he gave his acceptance speech last night, standing next to him was Gray Davis, the previous Democratic governor who got us into this financial mess in the first place, and who was so unpopular he was actually recalled from office. If you’re so out of touch that you’d put Gray Davis next to you on stage to endorse your run for governor, then it’s time to retire. Seriously. Whitman on the other hand has spelled out fiscally responsible measures to potentially get the state back on its feet. Like or her not personally, I cannot deny that she’d probably be better for the state as a whole.

The Boxer-Fiorina race is an easier choice. Barbara Boxer no longer feels like a Senator, she feels like a bone stuck in our collective throat. She’s obstructionist, underhanded, nasty and (needless to say) an unrelenting bulldog for each and every far-left political fantasy. I briefly thought she was hip, but that was decades ago when I was young and very foolish. Now she just seems like a member of the Politburo. While I don’t agree with everything Fiorina says, she did take time out to defend Israel in last night’s acceptance speech, which was as surprising as it was welcomed. She generally opposes most of the liberal boondoggles Boxer supports, which is good enough for me. But most of all I want to ensure that Obama doesn’t get another rubber-stamp Senate to ram through his agenda for the next two years, so for that reason alone I’d vote for practically anybody who wasn’t Boxer.

Yet I worry that none of these issues will matter to the general electorate, who will instead vote based on uninformed surface impressions of the candidates. And since all four of the nominees are vaguely nauseating, the race in November will come down to which candidates one dislikes the least. Who do you want representing you: power-hungry dinosaurs or out-of-touch zillionaires? A depressing prospect indeed.


(Cross-posted at PJM.)

21 Responses to “Dinosaurs vs. Zillionaires: Four Depressing Candidates Win in California”

  1. 1Ron L on Jun 9, 2010 at 5:17 pm:

    You say Brown ‘isn’t a bad person’, and for all I know that might be true. But what we’re asking for here isn’t a ‘good person’, it’s an administrator of some skill.
    If I’m not wrong, Brown was instrumental in legalizing union representation among public ‘servants’. If this doesn’t qaulify as the worst idea since ‘social security’, I’m not sure what would.

  2. 2Ringo the Gringo on Jun 9, 2010 at 5:27 pm:

    “Who do you want representing you: power-hungry dinosaurs or out-of-touch zillionaires?”

    I’ll take the zillionaires. In fact, compared to Boxer and Brown, Fiorina and Whitman look downright attractive to me.

  3. 3GuyAverage on Jun 9, 2010 at 6:50 pm:

    It’s what you settle for when you have the DTs and can’t get anything decent, like drinking cough syrup.

    hahahaha…classic!

  4. 4Joe on Jun 9, 2010 at 7:05 pm:

    Yeah, what a snoozer. I’m not too familiar with Whitman other than she seemed to do okay running eBay, completely unlike Fiorina with HP.

  5. 5CattusMagnus on Jun 9, 2010 at 7:06 pm:

    when he ran out of high-profile offices to run for, he scraped the residue out of the bottom of his political bong and ran for Mayor of Oakland. I mean, nobody wants to be Mayor of Oakland. It’s what you settle for when you have the DTs and can’t get anything decent, like drinking cough syrup.

    LOL!

  6. 6Christina on Jun 10, 2010 at 3:33 am:

    “Who do you want representing you: power-hungry dinosaurs or out-of-touch zillionaires?”

    I wish I could find the P.J. O’Rourke quote that boiled down to “When Republicans crush the poor and destroy the environment, they’re doing it to make a buck. Democrats do it for fun.”

    So I’ll settle for another excellent O’Rourke quote:

    “The American political system is like a gigantic Mexican Christmas fiesta. Each political party is a huge pinata — a papier-mache donkey, for example. The donkey is filled with full employment, low interest rates, affordable housing, comprehensive medical benefits, a balanced budge and other goodies. The American voter is blindfoled and given a stick. The voter then swings the stick wildly in every direction, trying to hit a political candidate on the head and knock some sense into the silly bastard.” – P.J. O’Rourke,”Parliament of Whores”

  7. 7Starless on Jun 11, 2010 at 6:29 am:

    In RE: Fiorina. Just remember one of her biggest moves at HP was to merge with Compaq. Here’s an idea: let’s take the shittiest part of our business and make it bigger! Duh?

  8. 8Scott on Jun 11, 2010 at 5:26 pm:

    Zombie, I feel your pain. Here in Delaware, the only chance we had to get rid of Joe Biden was to have someone pull him into an administration. And sadly, now the rest of the country has to suffer with Joe Biden as a “leader”. I’m pretty sure that in 1972 “Delaware’s Joe Biden” got his seat because of the tragedy that befell his first wife and oldest children. He remained a fixture for 36 years. Mongo Jerry needs to hang it up as does Babs, but I think these folks you point to are examples of what is wrong with politics in general today. It is no longer noble to serve your country in political office, as was originally conceived when the country was born, but rather a great way to control other people. That is what these old hacks love about Congress. They can dictate our lives! And, unfortunately, only the rich have a shot at controlling the masses, since they have the ability to throw away millions on campaigning.

  9. 9Stone K on Jun 12, 2010 at 6:14 am:

    While I agree with you on many levels, I can not stand the Idea of Boxer or Brown representing this state anymore. The way I figure it, the enemy of my enemy is the one I am going to vote for lol.

  10. 10realwest on Jun 12, 2010 at 9:58 am:

    Great post as always Zombie, but it seems to me to be a true No-brainer – let’s get rid of the career no-brainer politicians and put in two no-brainer newbies.
    Crap, they can’t do WORSE than Boxer and Brown and just might show some administrative and excutive type skills that will help California.

  11. 11phoenixgirl on Jun 13, 2010 at 1:50 pm:

    glad i don’t live in california anymore…….carly and meg don’t see like traditional conservatives…..i don’t care about the amount of money they have…they earned it…and how people with money spend it is no ones business….if nothing else, i hope that as gov. meg fixes the states finances following christi’s blueprint….and that carly gives us one more R and USES IT to stop the madness of the current administration……

  12. 12MikalM on Jun 13, 2010 at 6:29 pm:

    Excellent piece, Z. It pretty much sums up my own feelings about the choices.

  13. 13SPayne on Jun 14, 2010 at 5:51 pm:

    I registered REPUB last Tuesday for no other reason than to help the push for Bob Vanderplaats for IA gov’ner, among other “conservative”-type leaders. But Iowa repubs just wanted the wishy-washy Branstad (Ex-gov, ’83-’99), who has no chance against jackass-incumbant Culver. I’m returning to “no party” thanks.

  14. 14doug on Sep 19, 2010 at 11:50 pm:

    for anyone actually considering voting for meg, just ask ebay users about how well she ran ebay…into the gorund….buying into an already successful company and slowly but surely ruining it…most ebay sellers HATE her, and her constant fees, loopholes, rules, etc that she made while sending almost half the jobs she claimed she created overseas, and then laying off thousands…all while lining her pockets to do this campaign….she lied our faces at ebay conventions when confronted, and shes doing it now on the constant bs advertising thats on….its not voting FOR brown…its voting against this monster….something most people involved wit ebay will be doing as well

  15. 15شات كتابي on Sep 27, 2010 at 11:53 am:

    I registered REPUB last Tuesday for no other reason than to help the push for Bob Vanderplaats for IA gov’ner, among other “conservative”-type leaders. But Iowa repubs just wanted the wishy-washy Branstad (Ex-gov, ‘83-’99), who has no chance against jackass-incumbant Culver. I’m returning to “no party” thanks.

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