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Jerry Brown And Meg Whitman Debate, At Times Speak In Complete Sentences

Hillel Aron |
September 28, 2010 | 9:31 p.m. PDT


Tuesday night’s gubernatorial debate was a study in contrast.

That’s what people say about these things, right?

On the right (our right): Meg Whitman, her face frozen permanently in a wincing smile. You could tell she's been practicing for a while--almost every answer included the phrase, “I have a plan…” followed, at times, by an actual plan.

On the left (our left): Jerry Brown, looking like he’d wandered in from a bus station, sounding like an overcaffeinated gym coach, at pains to talk in complete sentences. 

In fact, neither candidate was particularly articulate. We were treated to such turns of phrases as “That’s the kettle calling the pot black” (Brown) and “You can’t boil the ocean” (Whitman). At times, 90 seconds actually seemed like too much time for an answer.

Brown presented himself as a tough guy who won’t take no crap from nobody, extending his index finger out for emphasis. This approach was successful in that the panel of questioners looked genuinely terrified of him. Whitman tried to present herself as humane and personable. This approach largely failed. 

And what of the substance? Well, Whitman wants to cut taxes in order to raise tax revenue. No, seriously! This, of course, is Ronald Reagan’s supply-side/trickle-down/voodoo economics, I suppose I'm not gonna disprove that one in a 400-word semi-humorous piece of commentary. Whitman would also raise the retirement age for public sector workers (but not, according to Brown, police and firefighters) and reforming welfare–-both seemingly good ideas, if I do say so myself.

Aside from just being an all-around jerk, Jerry Brown wants to create green jobs. And…well…I think that’s it. I could’ve missed something…

Then again, I’m beginning to think that this election isn’t about policy at all. With the economy as bad as it is for as long as it’s been, voters (perhaps) just see a big mess. They don’t care how it gets cleaned up. They just want it clean. They’re flying blind, going off of instinct. They’re leaning away from career-politicians, which would favor Whitman. 

On the other hand, Brown’s “I don’t take no shit” persona ("I have an index finger and I'm not afraid to use it!") may be the kind of thing voters are looking for.

It’s also worth noting that Brown was funnier than Whitman. He made a number of jokes about his age and even made a reference to his hard drinking past. Sure, half of what he said was incomprehensible. But he seemed more like a human being. And that might make all the difference.

I’m just glad this thing only lasted an hour.

To reach Hillel Aron, click here.

Follow him on Twitter: @hillelaron

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