Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jerry Brown Profiled at Los Angeles Times

Continuing my coverage of California's elections, today's Times features a glowing profile of Jerry Brown, "Older and Wiser, Brown Proudly Embraces His Father's Legacy":

At times, Jerry Brown seemed to go out of his way to distance himself from his father.

Edmund G. Brown Sr., California's governor from 1959 to 1967, called himself a "big government man." He built aqueducts, universities and freeways. He liked to shake hands with strangers and slap them on the back. A block might take him half an hour to walk because he greeted everyone he passed.

His only son, Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr., could be aloof, even acerbic. He became governor eight years after his father lost a bruising race for a third term. The son preached an "era of limits" and railed against the kind of politics his father practiced.

Now the brash young governor who thought he knew it all marvels at his father's accomplishments, both privately and publicly. He is acutely aware of Pat Brown's admired legacy, and invokes his name with reverence.

Brown says he is wiser now — an admission that he was wanting before — and that he has mastered the nuts and bolts of governance. He even tries to smile more.

"I was looking for new ideas," Brown said of his first two terms as governor. "I wanted to break the stagnation. Right now the ideas are pretty clear. We need management and forging a consensus and a common purpose regardless of party…. The very extreme positions will not hold."

Is he attempting to vindicate himself, eying his father's legacy and finding his own lacking? Or is his candidacy a calculated stroke, fueled by the strong ego and ever restless spirit that has primed his previous reinventions?

For answers, Brown points to the writings of a 4th century philosopher and developer of Christian thought.

St. Augustine wrote about "not going back to what was said before, always creating and finding new things…," Brown said. "Life is a discovery, and you are always learning and formulating anew."
Folks can read the rest.

I'm not finding anything inspiring, and my thoughts are pretty clear on a Brown governorship: Been there, done that. He's an old-fashioned Democrat --- in the pocket of big labor --- who won't do much to improve California. The state needs major structural reforms. Known previously as an independent free-thinker, Brown is all washed up. He's basically riding the pubic gravy train into retirement, hoping to put even larger stamp on his father's big government legacy. Pat Brown took office nearly 40 years ago, ultimately presiding over the gargantuan expansion of state government and popular expectations for more. Jerry Brown could do well to revisit his early motto claiming the "era of limits," except it's the state government that should be limited, not the people of California. Cut taxes and regulations, reform budgeting and pensions, and revitalize the entrepreneurial spirit. The populace will respond. California always leads the nation. We can do it again, for the next era of innovation and growth. We just need good leadership, and I'm underwhelmed by the promise of Governor Moonbeam.