Monday, November 1, 2010

Californians aren't whores

I'm going to risk it. I know, it got the Chicago Tribune in trouble back in 1948, when they called the presidential election for Dewey over Truman (Dewey who?). But sometimes you have to step up, throw caution to the winds, and hope like hell the pollsters got this one right. If the Goddess of Democracy smiles on California, Meg Whitman will be a has-been by the end of the week. She'll be the candidate who dug herself the most expensive political grave in history.

Fox News was so proud last month to trumpet a garbled recording that proved somebody in the office of once-and-future governor Jerry Brown called his super-rich, opportunist opponent "a whore." In all the brouhaha, though, both the crass Brown campaign and the reactionary media got it backward. Meg Whitman's not a whore. If the concept applies at all, she's a john. The thing is, Meg Whitman's campaign -- into which she has poured $141 million of her personal wealth -- has been organized around the principle that California voters, as a group, are all whores. And that we're cheap whores at that: Meg's spent eight bucks and change on each of California's registered voters (figuring from the Secretary of State's stats as of 18 October). Even if she spent judiciously, targeting only the half plus one of Californians whose vote she's, um, soliciting -- we're still talking less than a Jackson.

Meg ... I'm sorry. Even in loose and licentious California you can't bid that low and expect to win the auction.

I'm generally pretty cynical about elections -- though eligible voters' absence at the polls prove more than 60% are more cynical than I am in midterm election years this far into the century, in that they don't even show up. Still, it would be nice to think that Meg Whitman's polling makes it safe to infer that there are limits to the insult that citizens will swallow.

No, Jerry Brown isn't many people's hero. Not by a long shot. But when some rich tyrant stirs from her lethargy as a citizen and attempts to buy her way into the CEO position of the 8th largest economy in the world, it's comforting to see that most people get that a lifelong politician, wrung out and flip-floppy as he may be, is going to be a lot more competent at actual governance than someone who couldn't be bothered to cast a vote for most of her adult life.

I voted by mail last week. But I'm looking forward to tomorrow night, when we all get to see what a $141 million concession speech looks like.

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the photo.

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