A new Jerry Brown ad is making the case that Arnold will be back–in the form of Meg Whitman.

The spot, which went statewide yesterday, has been viewed almost 43,000 times on YouTube. In true “Daily Show” fashion, the ad cross-cuts between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meg Whitman making the same statements.

What with Schwarzenegger’s job approval lingering at George W. Bush-like levels, the Brown campaign obviously considers any parallel between him and Whitman to be helpful. So yesterday, Whitman was asked what her reaction to the ad was. Her response:

On the one hand, Brown’s ad can be viewed as a dig at the vacuous, sound bite-driven political rhetoric spewed by all candidates. (I daresay someone could put together a similar piece cherrypicking frequent Brown tropes and pairing them with those of some other down-on-his-ratings politician.)

But on the other hand, I think the spot highlights a core part of the narrative Whitman is trying to tell: That she is an outsider with new ideas, that she has not been infected with whatever ails the state’s political system, and that her vast personal resources will immunize her against political quid-pro-quos that many people perceive to be an obligatory component of how government works. And I have to admit, even before Brown’s new ad made the explicit comparison between Whitman and the governor, I thought these selling points did seem awfully familiar.

Yesterday’s Governing California segment from The California Report touches on the issue of a strong persona masquerading as a qualification in the gubernatorial race. Sacramento bureau chief John Myers cites a Schwarzenegger speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in which he acknowledges that his grand plans to change government collided head on with the entrenched system. Both Brown and Whitman, Joe journalist Joe Mathews says, are selling the power of their “magical” personalities as a fix for long-festering problems.

Or, to put it another way, this today from the progressive standpoint, on BeyondChron:

While progressives heave a sigh of relief that Jerry Brown has a slight lead even after Meg Whitman has shattered all spending records, I’m reminded of what my friend and fellow blogger David Dayen said years ago. Noam Chomsky could be elected Governor of California, and we’d all be shouting “sell-out” within months. The problems in our state government are so structural that no single politician or officeholder is going to improve things….

Also from The California Report: 10 questions for the candidates that address core problems that won’t and can’t be solved by a handful of personal attributes they seem so eager to highlight.


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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