Slim Whitman Chances?
I haven’t been to California since 2008, and barring some sudden speaking engagement, I won’t be heading to the Golden State anytime soon, more by circumstance than choice. But it’s easy for us outsiders to have a slight sense of relief with the ominous anxiety that the embattled leading state might be about to take a tough turn for the worse. Mostly it’s relief that we don’t have to live with their mistakes.
It’s rather odd, NBC has promoting the heck out of their new spin-off series, “Law and Order: Los Angeles,” and all of the commercials include all of the classic California images –palm trees, the Hollywood sign, cops in fancy suits and sunglasses, Tupac’ California Love on the soundtrack. They’re promoting a glamorous, idealized image that probably took root when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved out there and perhaps peaked in the 1980s.
But pick up one of the California newspapers, and you’ll get a different story. In fact, you’ll probably get a special collector’s edition as the print edition of that California newspaper ceases production. The state seems to be coming part at the seams: 12.4 percent unemployment, nine cities with unemployment above 15 percent, a budget crisis that makes Washington look thrifty, crime rates on the rise, social divisions that make the Balkans look like a big kumbaya campfire jamboree, and now, the worst outbreak of Whooping Cough in 55 years. It’s not hard to find eye-popping stories like, “In Sacramento, beset by California’s financial woes, homicides are up 43 percent this year, assaults on police are up 13 percent, and Chief Rick Braziel said he had to eliminate his vice unit.”
All of this is a roundabout way of asking whether Californians really will decide their next governor based on the allegations of an angry former housekeeper of Republican candidate Meg Whitman. Perhaps they will, but the idea of Governor Jerry Brown has felt like the largest televised practical joke ever…
But we’re a month out. “Go groom better candidates” is always good advice but you can’t just run out and pick up some more at Price Club. The next governor of California is either going to be Whitman or Jerry Brown. Either Republicans make their peace with whatever bad calls Whitman made or they sentence California to four years of a guy who effectively defined tax-and-spend liberalism, casually compared Whitman to Goebbels and was buddies with the Rev. Jim Jones.