If you don’t live in California, you’re forgiven for not caring about that state’s gubernatorial race between Republican Meg Whitman (ex-CEO of eBay) and Democrat Jerry Brown (ex-governor and current D.A. of California). You’re also forgiven if you do live there, because politics in this country has become about screaming “foul” the loudest and doing whatever it takes to get elected, and not genuinely caring about your constituents and finding responsible, intelligent and compassionate solutions to the country’s problems. Following any political race anywhere in the U.S. is as pleasant as having your kneecaps gnawed on by a mountain lion, and about as inspiring. That is, not very.
Last Thursday a recording of an associate of Jerry Brown calling Meg Whitman a “whore” was circulated to the media (I quote liberally from the article linked there):
The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown apologized Thursday after one of his aides was overheard referring to Republican rival Meg Whitman as a “whore” in a taped telephone message.
The recording of the conversation was circulated to the press Thursday. It was captured on a telephone answering machine when Brown left a message after calling the Los Angeles Police Protective League last month.
After Brown apparently believed he had hung up the telephone, the machine continued to record a conversation between Brown and his aides.
Oopsie. I’ve got $10 that says Jerry Brown triple clicks the receiver or the end button on the phone after hanging up now.
The Democratic candidate complained that the union, which endorsed Whitman, wanted him to soften his support for pension reform.
“Do we want to put an ad out?” Brown said. “That I have been warned if I crack down on pensions — that they’ll go to Whitman, and that’s where they’ll go because they know Whitman — will cut them a deal?”
At that point, what appears to be a second voice interjects: “What about saying she’s a whore?”
Brown replies, “Well, I’m going to use that. It proves you’ve cut a secret deal to protect the pensions.”
And there’s where things went, as they say, sideways. Whitman’s camp released the following statement in response to the recording:
Campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei called it “an insult to both Meg Whitman and to the women of California.”
“This is an appalling and unforgivable smear against Meg Whitman,” she said in a statement. “At the very least Mr. Brown tacitly approved this despicable slur and he himself may have used the term at least once on this recording.”
Appalling and unforgivable? Really? The Holocaust was appalling and unforgivable. The rhetoric here is what I find appalling and nearly unforgivable. Taken in context, I think it’s clear Brown’s aide was not literally calling Whitman a whore – I seriously doubt the ex-CEO of eBay takes money in exchange for sex. What she may do is take the support of the police union in exchange for agreeing to exempt them from sweeping changes to the state’s pension system (which is one of about 673 things very, very broken in California). If Brown’s aide had simply put the word “figurative” before “whore” in his comment, the point would have been clearer and far less insulting and/or controversial: Brown and his camp believe that Whitman and her camp have made a deal to help her get elected, and they’re trying to spin it in such a way that helps Brown get elected.
What have we learned? They’re both figurative whores, but only one of them was accidentally recorded saying it out loud. I wish they both could lose.
(If it seems like I am defending Brown’s aide and his choice of words, I’m not. That said, this was a recording of what was supposed to be a private conversation, and in context I hear a political slur, not gender-bias. Also: in “people in glass houses throwing stones” news, I’ll eat my boxers if Whitman, or anyone in her camp, hasn’t privately called Brown an asshole or worse. At the very least, they play California über Alles and snicker with delight.)
(Heavy post – silliness and puppies coming later.)