Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jerry Brown surprises pundits with humor/relaxation

I watched the debate tonight between (former) Governor Jerry Brown and (former eBay CEO) Meg Whitman held at UC Davis. My husband Bill Magavern was in the front row as a guest of and surrogate for Brown. I sat at home tweeting to my 15 followers (literally) and commenting on various live chats and websites. From young to old, conservative to progressive, the pundits almost uniformly were surprised by Brown's relaxing style, great humor, poise and vigor.

When Brown answered the question about why we should trust that he's going to focus on the business of governing rather than running for President, Brown answered "age and marriage." Basically, at 72, after 8 years in the Governor's non-existent mansion he'd be way too old to run for president (otherwise, he confessed, he would) and he's married now, he won't be out carousing in the bars, he'll be home with his wife and better able to focus.

Humor and charm notwithstanding, he was often substantive and displayed a depth of knowledge of the issues. Whitman did nothing to embarrass herself, just completely failed to distinguish herself in anyway. My 15 year old wondered, "shouldn't there be a limit on the number of times you can use the word, 'streamline'?" He has now forbidden me to use it (also "paradigm shift" and "apropos").

Brown also engaged in good old-fashioned class warfare, going after Queen Meg for her billionaire buyouts and proposed tax breaks for millionaires.

And it worked. At least for my mom. You'll remember my mother, she's a retired teacher in San Diego, registered Democrat. I consider her the bellwether for mainstream Dems in California. And judging from my mother, the base in energized for Brown now, even where it wasn't a week or two ago. For months my mother has been complaining about Brown, threatening to vote for Whitman. Tonight, with the combination of Whitman's recent attacks on teachers unions and Brown's charisma in the debate, she is all in for Brown. No antipathy, no ambiguity, all out, "we've got to elect this guy!" And that's what's needed.

Full disclosure: I am now employed as a consultant in an effort to help get out the messages of consumer, labor and environmental groups that support Brown.

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