June 3, 2010

The official portrait of Jerry Brown (from his old governor days).

Interesting, no? I ran across that at Wikipedia as I was looking up some things this morning. I wasn't checking up on his new campaign for governor. I was trying to remember what had happened in the 1992 Democratic primaries. We'd been talking about Bill and Hillary Clinton. (Would we be better off now if Hillary were President?) And I remembered that back in 1992, early on in the primary season when there were a lot of candidates, my shorthand reason for rejecting Bill Clinton was: He's a Republican. Then I was trying to remember who I voted for in the Wisconsin primary, which I knew was late, after many of those candidates had dropped out. Who was the last man standing in the 1992 Democratic primaries challenging Bill Clinton? It was Jerry Brown. Did you remember that?
As the press now focused on the primaries in New York and Wisconsin, which were both to be held on the same day, Brown, who had taken the lead in polls in both states, made a serious gaffe: he announced to an audience of various leaders of New York City's Jewish community that, if nominated, he would consider the Reverend Jesse Jackson as a vice-presidential candidate. Jackson, who had made a pair of anti-Semitic comments about Jews in general and New York City's Jews in particular while running for president in 1984, was still a widely hated figure in that community and Brown's polling numbers suffered. On April 7, he lost narrowly to Bill Clinton in Wisconsin (37–34), and dramatically in New York (41–26).
Here's a New York Times report, from just before the primary:
Mr. Clinton yesterday appeared to be straddling the divisions between the two groups [blacks and Jews], at once putting an advertisement on black radio stations touting his civil rights record and accusing Mr. Brown of pandering to blacks by saying he would choose the Rev. Jesse Jackson as his running mate.

"I think that we should not play politics with the Vice Presidency, even though it can be a vote-getter," Mr. Clinton said....

At a meeting with a Jewish group on Thursday, Mr. Brown was repeatedly asked how he could expect to win the Jewish vote after embracing Mr. Jackson, who referred to New York City as "Hymietown" in the 1984 Presidential campaign.

For his part, Mr. Brown has tried to appeal to appeal to black and Jewish voters alike with a television advertisement that criticizes Mr. Clinton for playing golf at an all-white country club. Yesterday, Mr. Clinton attacked Mr. Brown for the commercial, which he said distorted his record on civil rights.

"Let me tell you something," Mr. Clinton said. "A few years ago Jerry Brown said the real solution to racial problems was for the white boys to teach black boys how to read and for black boys to teach white boys how to fight. Now, I could have run an ad on that and made him look like a bigot."
Ha ha. I could have run an ad on that and made him look like a bigot. He just said it and got it quoted as if he were refraining from using it. Hilarious. I cannot remember if, in the end, I voted for Clinton or Brown. Probably Brown. What an amazing career that man has had. Astounding that after all these years, he's worked his way back to the California governorship.

And, for an unusual guy, an unusual official portrait, by Don Barchardy.


El Pollo Real said...

After the primaries, Whitman will beat Brown handily in the polls.

MadisonMan said...

Jerry Brown is one of those politicians who I think is dead, but then I find out he's alive 'cause he runs for office.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't mean to look as though I'm predicting Brown will win this time.

I have no idea.

Oso Negro said...

What a rich post!

1) We would probably be better off if Hillary were president.

2) Bill Clinton was and is (hard to use "is" in the same sentence without reflecting) a slick fellow.

3) If California goes for Jerry Brown again expect marvels in every sense of the word.

AllenS said...

Anybody running for the California governorship at this time in history is insane.

Triangle Man said...

Anybody running for the California governorship at this time in history is insane.

I agree with AllenS. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins based on the "hell, if he wants it, let's give it to him" vote.

Big Mike said...

Astounding that after all these years, he's worked his way back to the California governorship.

Amazing that voters don't have enough sense to remember what a great job Brown did starting California down the greasy slope to being Greece.

Jay said...

I was born and raised in California - and whatever else Jerry Brown is 0- and he has had a LOT of paths in his life - he does not lack for courage - the official portrait is just one of those signs that tells us so.

Clinton is as gifted a politician as I have ever seen in history, and Jerry is a visionary worker bee - and NEVER count him out - the guy has had more comebacks than Haley's Comet - and he just may win the Governor's seat again - but without a huge and very unlikely turnover in the "Bread and Circuses" legislature there no one can fix that train wreck.

I never liked him but I admire him for thinking he can fix it. Insane? Maybe, but you have to be more than a little crazy to attempt to fix that - and trust me when I say California voters LOVE crazy.

Sixty Grit said...

I lived in California when Moonbeam was governor. He is different. But for whatever reason I found him less objectionable than most socialists, and that makes no sense - he is a far leftist, holds many opinions that are anathema to my views, but he never seemed as personally slimy as Clinton or Obama. Should that make a difference, when their goals are all the same - the crushing of individualism and capitalism?

Okay, it's settled - I no longer like Ol' Moonbeam now that I have thought it through - and why is he still looking for work? Dude - you are old! Go away - look up Linda Ronstadt and party like it's 1979.

Original Mike said...

I've always liked Jerry Brown. I wouldn't vote for him, but I like him.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem said...

I might also have grown green, gauzy wings and flown to the moon.

From Wikipedia
"In 1978 in a Rolling Stone interview Linda Ronstadt called her then boyfriend, Jerry Brown, her "Little Moonbeam".

Fred4Pres said...

The unofficial song of Jerry Brown (from his old governor days).

I am Governor Jerry Brown
My aura smiles
And never frowns
Soon I will be president...

Carter Power will soon go away
I will be Fuhrer one day
I will command all of you
Your kids will meditate in school
Your kids will meditate in school!

California Uber Alles
California Uber Alles
Uber Alles California
Uber Alles California

Zen fascists will control you
100% natural
You will jog for the master race
And always wear the happy face

Close your eyes, can't happen here
Big Bro' on white horse is near
The hippies won't come back you say
Mellow out or you will pay
Mellow out or you will pay!


Now it is 1984
Knock-knock at your front door
It's the suede/denim secret police
They have come for your uncool niece

Come quietly to the camp
You'd look nice as a drawstring lamp
Don't you worry, it's only a shower
For your clothes here's a pretty flower.

DIE on organic poison gas
Serpent's egg's already hatched
You will croak, you little clown
When you mess with President Brown
When you mess with President Brown


H/T: Dead Kennedys

Kirstin said...

(Would we be better off now if Hillary were President?)

Wasn't there a post the other day that said we'll never know what kind of president McCain would have been? The Clintons are so corrupt that I don't know if we would be better off with Hillary.

EDH said...

Brown is one of those liberal politicians, like Barney Frank, who impresses me as having not aged well, particularly post Reagan.

I’m not talking about looks, but about outlook. Once refreshing, they are now stale, reflexive and humorless. I don't think my perception is the result of my increasing conservatism, but instead their increasing cynicism.

I think their cynicism grew out of the lessons America learned from world events and Reagan’s legacy that, to one extent or another, reawakened a consciousness about the limits of government -- what Brown and Frank probably consider infusing the country with “selfishness” -- and the constraints those mores imposed on their grandiose plans.

It’s also about the usual liberal self-loathing that comes from recognizing one's own hubris and selfishness when it comes to the quest for institutional power and personal financial security.

SteveR said...

I agree with those who think being govenor of California at this time is crazy or an act of extreme ego, not that there's any difference.

He'll sow what he reaped that's for sure.

Paul said...

That portrait of Jerry Brown reminds me of the YouTube video that had been uploaded and downloaded 775 times. If you took a photo of Jerry and did the same thing, perhaps 167 times, this would be the result.

A lot of impressionistic art has that look. You can take a photo and make it look like an impressionist painting with a few Photoshop operations.

LarsPorsena said...

Jerry Brown has learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

john said...

Thanks for posting that picture as a reminder to make an appointment with my dermatologist this morning.

bagoh20 said...

It often a good career move to take over a badly failed organization at it's bottom. You have to piss off a lot of people, but they expect it, understand it, besides you have nowhere to go but up. You become the guy(or gal) who fixed California and turned it around. Of course I only expect this because out here in California we are as high as gossamer winged fairies riding moonbeams. Woohooooo!

Simon Kenton said...

In the fire department we get training on how to recognize meth addicts, houses and labs in advance, so we don't go in unprepared on a situation or people who are explosive or toxic.

The portrait - those red blotches, like bad teeth, gaunt cheeks, and tweeking, are a first-level clue to meth use. Seems improbable, but if I met that face, I'd be going alert.

Simon Kenton said...

In the fire department we get training on how to recognize meth addicts, houses and labs in advance, so we don't go in unprepared on a situation or people who are explosive or toxic.

The portrait - those red blotches, like bad teeth, gaunt cheeks, and tweeking, are a first-level clue to meth use. Seems improbable, but if I met that face, I'd be going alert.

bagoh20 said...

It's an embarrassing time to be a freaking socialist. To have achieved unprecedented success and then realize you were so wrong that the entire western world is in crisis from exactly what you wanted and fought for your whole life. The governments embracing free markets are excelling while those going left are faced with pain, cuts, retraction. Just like all the times before.

The old leftist idea that it will work if the right people try it means that we have the wrong people or the wrong ideas - a tough choice to accept. His expression in that portrait is perfect for that realization.

edutcher said...

The Californians, current and former, may feel obliged to correct me, but, IIRC, The Golden State was very glad to see him go when his term was up. He seems to be the Harold Stassen of California politics, always there, but not really ever fulfilling his promise.

As to Willie and Hillie, we saw how the first black President feels about black people - the same as he does about everybody else - they are there to be exploited for the greater good of William Jefferson Blyth III and anyone who thinks the Hildabeast would be an improvement over The Zero should reflect on how she handled her only run for the White House, but also her tenure at State.

Theo Boehm said...

As an EX-Californian, I think of "unusual" in the same way some people are "special."

Jerry Brown screwed me personally. He vetoed the appropriation that included money for my graduate fellowship.

Jerry Brown did it, NOT Ronald Reagan, who made his political career running against the University of California. But Jerry Brown, in his "unusual" (sometimes it was said, "Jesuitical') way continued many of the anti-UC policies of his predecessor, one of which was to screw ol' Theo.

Never forget Himmler based the SS on the Jesuits.

Scott said...

The portrait is a cartoon. Just like Jerry Brown.

TheGiantPeach said...

I am shocked to see how close the Wisconsin primary vote was. Jerry Brown was no longer governor in 1992 and was considered something of a flake. His candidacy was not taken totally seriously by the press. I suspect that what happened was that by primary day, Clinton was the presumptive nominee, and people who voted for Brown were expressing dissatisfaction with that outcome.

Brown's career (maybe his life, for all I know) was distorted by a similar phenomenon in 1976. Brown ran for President that year, and won a few of the late primaries. People were expressing their dissatisfaction with Carter, who was the all but inevitable nominee at that point, but Jerry Brown didn't see that. He thought the voters loved him and wanted him to be President, and nothing was the same for him after that.

1992 was a very weird election. The Democrats had their second (or third) team in the field. Most prospective candidates passed on the race because two things were known at the outset, namely, that the nomination was Mario Cuomo's for the asking, and, then, that Bush was unbeatable anyway. I seem to recall that as of Labor Day 1991 (just four months before Iowa) the only declared candidate was Paul Tsongas.

But then Cuomo surprised everybody by not running, and a (fairly mild) recession destroyed Bush's popularity. And that was the other weird thing about 1992. The whole election was about who could get us out of the recession, and the recession didn't even last until Inauguration Day.

c3 said...

I lived in California when Moonbeam was governor. He is different. But for whatever reason I found him less objectionable than most socialists, and that makes no sense - he is a far leftist,

Boy this really resonates with me because of some political ruminations I was considering last week. They had to do with the (what I call) "Democratic resurgence" of the past couple years. In particular it was the combination of "new ideas" with old-style "Big Government". The nagging question for me was, Where have I heard this before?

It hit me: THE 70's. For me the 70's were the melding of the "protest Democrats" (i.e. McGovern) with the old-line, machine Democrats (i.e. Daley). I distinctly remember the pizazz that someone like Governor Brown had:

Wow this guy has some NEW ideas

BO had that same feel (and its interesting that he comes out of Chicago, home of the "old style")

It took looking back from beyond the 70's to realize that the "new ideas" didn't amount to much and seemed to get us to the same place as the old ones.

Maybe it was the dramatic change in perspective that the Reagan presidency forced on us and then the follow up realization that the "sky wasn't falling".

In a related manner, that's what I appreciated about the Clinton presidency. Remember all of the dire predictions with ending welfare as we know it. Well, the sky didn't fall then. Soon after that I thought maybe Reagan HAS had a profound impact on the Democratic Party.

My conclusion now is that the only "profound" impact Reagan had on the Democratic party was the "tax reduction" line. They never bought into the less government perspective.

And now a decade later we're finding the tax reduction line fading too.

My lesson learned (or question)for Republicans is:

Are we now in the equivalent of the 70's for the Republican Party? (meaning, seeming "new" ideas but really just repacking of old ones.)

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

Carnac: Brown pajama tops.

Ed McMahon: Brown pajama tops.

Carnac (after opening the envelop):
What Linda Ronstadt wears to bed.


Kirstin said...

In California our Senate and Assembly have been in the hands of the Democrats since 1970 (except for one session). It makes things very hard to change. I think we need someone like Governor Christie.

bagoh20 said...

"Are we now in the equivalent of the 70's for the Republican Party? (meaning, seeming "new" ideas but really just repacking of old ones.)"

At this point in history, all ideas are old ones. The important thing is to pursue the ones that work and avoid those that don't.

Policy based on a pyramid scheme (socialism) has never worked because all pyramid schemes run out of suckers eventually. That's where Europe is, that's where we are heading. It looks less bad at the moment because we are just starting to see it peeter out and the suckers are us, getting in late. When those running the scheme start to admit that there is no money for those at the bottom of the pyramid and the checks stop, then the gnashing of teeth will begin.

shoutingthomas said...

White boys should teach black boys to read.

Black boys should teach white boys to fight.

This is just common sense, which must be of course denouced as racist. You must be stupid. It's required for the greater cause of Diversity.

AllenS said...

Is that a large cockroach on Jerry's left shoulder?

gpm said...

"*I could have run an ad on that and made him look like a bigot.* He just said it and got it quoted as if he were refraining from using it."

Well, yeah, that one has a name: praeteritio. Cicero was a big fan/user.


Paul said...

I really like the portrait a lot -- it really captures how Brown looked at the time. Plus, I think it shows an ambiguity in Brown's expression that aptly describes how Brown viewed running for and holding political office. On one hand, he came from a political family and certainly knew enough about the process to know he had a decent shot, despite his somewhat eccentric image; on the other, he also understood the limits of political power, and the costs it exacts on those who wield it.

Nice art, thanks Ann.

Seven Machos said...

I was in college during the 1992 election. Someone had given me a tab of acid one night, and I took it, and many hours later in the wee hours of the morning, I ended up at home, watching television.

What I was watching was C-SPAN. Now, you have to remember that this was an era of maybe 30 channels, and we are talking four in the morning. Anyway, Jerry Brown was on, and he was giving a speech, and I was tripping on acid, and I remember that at the time, what Jerry Brown was saying made all the sense in the world to me, in a sort of religious and spiritual way. I was enthralled.

I have not liked Jerry Brown before that night or since. But that night, we were one, man. Me and Jerry.

Blue@9 said...

I would never vote for him, but I admit that I really like Jerry Brown. The guy is very, very sharp, extremely smart, which is rather odd for a politician. Most politicians are of a middling intelligence, but Brown is not. He's easily in Clinton's league on that score, but he's not nearly as good a politician.

c3 said...

Well apparently this author and this piece also resonate with the 70's vibe I alluded to in my previous comment

El Pollo Real said...

@seven machos: Didn't your mom warn you about the brown acid?

ak4mc said...

If I were in charge, electing Jerry Brown governor again would be grounds for revocation of California's statehood.

ak4mc said...

...I should add that not only was I living in California during the Brown years, I was living right there in Sacramento. I had a front row seat.

Besides doing his own damage, Brown also unleashed upon my erstwhile home state the one and only Gray Davis.

RebeccaH said...

Jerry Brown? Again? Why?

Rob Waters said...

During Jerry Brown's second term as governor, his lieutenant governor was Mike Curb, a young and immature Republican music impressario of Mike Curb Congregation infamy. Curb repeatedly embarrassed Brown by vetoing bills that Brown supported or issuing executive orders that Brown would have to counterman when he returned.

A San Francisco humor columnist named Arthur Hoppe wrote a column in which Brown admonishes Curb that if he would just play it cool, he would become governor when Brown got elected president. Curb said he understood and asked the governor where he was going to next. Brown said he was travelling to Colorado with Linda Ronstadt. After he left, Curb picked up the phone and made a call, "FBI, I'd like to report a violation of the Mann Act."

tree hugging sister said...

One of the strongest memories of my 13 years living in SoCal was an ancient Ford Pinto that haunted the parking lot of NRMC Long Beach in the early '80's. It belonged to a disabled, begrizzled VietNam vet who, I'm pretty sure, lived in the derelict thing. Festooned with flags, ephemera and bumper stickers, it was a sight and one always checked for new material added since the last visit. But the place of honor on his back windshield seemed to be reserved for one constant and well preserved (perhaps constantly replaced) bumper-sticker of a political bent:


Still cracks me up.

The Pathetic Earthling said...

I grew up in 1970s California, so Jerry Brown was the first governor I remember -- and I strongly associate him with the strange things that were going on when I was a little kid in the back of a station wagon in long gas lines (both at 3 and at 9), wondering about when Jerry Brown would do something about Med Flies, and all sorts of other weird things.

But one thing I've learned to like about Jerry Brown (and since I live near Oakland, rather admire about him), is that unlike many modern (or post-modern) lefties, he really believes in certain objective things. He wants diversion programs for drugs, yes, but he also believes that there are objective standards of good and evil in the world. He understands that his socialist dreams *still* require a prosperous private sector (and he did a lot to try to get Oakland back on its feet). He spent a lot of capital on the Oakland Military Academy because he believed that some kids in Oakland could benefit from a military-style charter school -- and fought for that thing against all comers.

Now, he wants to spend your money. Don't get me wrong. He is kinda weird. But he understands that there are objective limits on things. And that makes him smarter than most. He probably understands that the SEIU cannot have everything they want forever and certainly is going to be in a better position to do something about it than Meg Whitman (who I support). Now, he might not do something about it, but Meg Whitman certainly can't.

And I can't quite bring myself to condemn the guy as an ordinary lefty. He is an extraordinary lefty. I wish we had more of them.

Seven Machos said...

Awesome thread.

mrkwong said...

Jerry Brown was an unbearable sack of fecal matter as Governor last time.

He pulled the plug on infrastructure development in California, starting the state sliding into a hole we've never quite gotten out of.

He signed into law unionization of state employees, thereby tipping the state onto yet another slippery slope. Brown was fond of the phrase 'less is more' but the union bosses are at least smart enough to know that more is what matters.

As mayor of Oakland he rode the wave of development money that hit most of the country during his term but otherwise did little to fix that city's real problems, including the political cronyism that (among other ills) protected Your Black Muslim Bakery and resulted in the murder of Chauncey Bailey.

It amazed me that the voters would put him in statewide office again, he hasn't done a lot as AG and most of his high-profile efforts - such as pushing nonsense climate-change lawsuits at automakers - have been counterproductive at best.

I'd sooner drop-kick the SOB into the Pacific Ocean than vote for him.

Robert said...

I saw Jerry Brown speak at the UVA Law School in 1992, prior to the Virginia primary (which Jesse Jackson won--a huge development in the Commonwealth containing one of the capitols of the Confederacy). I detested Brown's policies (still do), but he was a dynamite speaker. Very energetic, entertaining, and persuasive. For about one, maybe two nanoseconds, I considered voting for him. His crack about white boys and black boys reminds me just how nutty he can be.

Libertoryan said...

"I could say X but I won't" - it's an old rhetorical technique, so old that it has a Latin name - praeteritio.

cokaygne said...

Brown is California's problem, as if they don't have enough. The fascinating part of your post is the encapsulation of the essential Bill Clinton in the description of how he slimed Brown, told different audiences what they wanted to hear, and snatched victory from defeat.

I always thought the Clinton administration was pretty good compared to others of recent history. Stories like this remind me of how Clinton was lucky to be president when the nation had no serious foreign or domestic crises. Bush was a disastrous president, but he seemed to me to be way above Clinton in character.

Kirstin said...

I've read accounts of Jerry Brown losing his train of thought while speaking recently and just rambling on. It will be an interesting race for governor. Meg Whitman doesn't seem to mince words.

Fiftyville said...

Jerry's official portrait is rather hard to find in the Capitol in Sacramento. It was so ungodly ugly they stuck it up on the third floor in an out of the way landing at the top of the stairs. You really have to hunt around to find it, but you know you're close when you hear the laughter of tourists.

Ken said...

I lived through the Brown Era here in California. He was then, as he is now, a perfect combination of a far left Democratic machine politician and new age guru type con-man. He hasn't changed, but maybe his image makers do a better job making him look like he might have some relation with either honesty or reality.

His father was a slimy machine politician of the Jesse Unruh-Willie Brown school and Jerry inherited his dad's lack of integrity. He combines this with a space cadet persona. As Attorney General he has done an excellent job harassing business and protecting ACORN.

Aaron said...

Jerry Brown visited our campus, UC San Diego, as a presidential candidate and ex-governor, and made a speech about how our chemistry department was being shut, but our tourism department was still open. Since UC Sand Diego is a major biotech center, we were confused...until we realized he had mixed us up with San Diego State. Some hippies in the audience shouted at him, but he just blathered on. If he had been an out-of-stater, I could understand. But he was governor and a native son.

Sonar said...

I was born in Oakland when the US Flag had 49 stars, have lived in CA, only excepting time in the Navy spent in other countries or on other coasts.

Jerry Brown is California.

Someone earlier said California loves crazy.
California TRUSTS crazy.

He may not call himself Socialist, but he means what he says and he says what he means. That's integrity. The miracle of the Democratic party running him is due to COMPLETE absence of competition.
And we think his 'Working Retirement (Mayor of Oakland)' is to his credit, to his benefit.

The Republican party could have expected to win the upcoming election but for two problems.
1) Arnold Schwarzenegger (very Californian but not honestly attributable to either party) randomizes all presumptions of precedent.
2) The California Republican party CONSISTENTLY snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

I remember the people and legislature decriminalizing marijuana, and state Attorney General telling us Fuck You All. I can cite Federal Law and make such enforcement a priority anyway. The Republican Party then ran him for Governor (to his ignominious defeat).

Currently we're in a primary with Meg Whitman against Steve Poisner against Tom DeVore. Our respected sage Tom McClintock has given inexplicable, unjustifiable support to Poisner. People who care are confused, baffled. Money is pouring into television. Whitman and Poisner tearing each other down.

Jerry Brown hasn't spent a penny yet.

He may not need to spend one red cent.

OSweet said...

'You should get closer...'

Brent said...

Another Dem. that left office with a budget surplus. I wonder if Cali will wake up in time and put some with a clue in office. Whitman will be a disaster like Arnold. Government is not a business, 2 totally different animals.

Maggie said...

Why would anyone vote for Whiteman? She is Palin's bitch, and if elected, there will be payback! You have heard the saying - "better the devil you know then the devil you don't", well..... Fortunately, Brown is leading Whiteman in most polls, or at least tied. I am not from California, but I do follow the races closely, especially those involving Tea Party Candidates. Beware of anythng tainted by Palin! Whitman has spent 119M dollars on her campaign to get her fat butt into the governor's mansion and that is obscene! If she wanted to help the state and ALSO get elected, give that money to people in foreclosure. She is unpalatable at best!