Bad Quote Duel: Brown & Burton Meet eMeg & Ron


From  the accounts we’ve seen, GOP state chairman Ron Nehring had it all over Democratic party chief John Burton at their mano-a-mano insult fest at the Sacramento Press Club this week.

That’s not entirely surprising, of course, given that the tightly wound Republican enjoys two, big natural advantages over his unwound rival: 1) Nehring is actually capable of speaking in complete sentences and 2) he’s not battling a heartbreaking case of  Tourette Syndrome.

While Nehring bashed Democrats Barbara Boxer and and Jerry Brown with some pretty good lines — “When Boxer was first elected to Congress in 1982, ‘The A-Team’ was a TV show and not in a movie, and I think Jerry Brown’s registration card was in Roman numerals” — Burton criticized GOP wannabe governor eMeg Whitman for being over-reliant on consultants by proving anew that bad taste costs no more: “I don’t know if she’s alone when she goes to the bathroom.”

Yuk yuk.

And when Nehring, 40, argued that because the diverse Republican statewide ticket looks more like California’s population, “the political jet streams will be in our favor,” in the November election, the 112-year old Burton responded with this gas-bag, head-scratching pronouncement:

Changes of winds and winds of change, who the hell knows where the wind goes. It tends to change. Do you ever watch the weather report? The wind’s coming here, but they go there?

Yeah, well, there is that.

Krunching Krusty: More troubling for Democrats than the latest creaky performance of their, um, grizzled leader, was a stinging comment Nehring made about Brown, which seemed to us to carry considerable political resonance:

Nehring said he’s not surprised Brown is calling for a number of debates.

“If I was Jerry Brown, I’d do anything I could to hit the reset button as often as I could,” Nehring said. “He’s the de facto incumbent. The guy’s gotta do something to change the direction of the campaign. Quirkiness is not a strategy. It’s not working for him so far.”


As if on cue, Brown uncorked a series of oddball utterances that not only underlined the point about the inherent weakness of strategic quirkiness, but also handed eMeg some fresh material with which to attack him as the same old same old and position herself as the agent of change.

In a Tuesday address to the California District Attorney’s Association, Brown, for reasons that remain unclear, portrayed himself as the defender of the status quo, recalling a conversation he had during his first turn as governor with the late, long-serving state senator Randolph Collier:

When I was up there reforming and upsetting the apple cart, he said, “Young man, why do you stir all these things up?”…He said, “Don’t stir things up,” he said “Don’t try to make too many changes”…

I can’t remember his exact words, but it was “Don’t rock the boat,” and you know, there’s a lot of wisdom to that. There is. Now I’ll rock it a little bit because you got to get it on an even keel.

Don’t rock the boat? Really? In a year when veteran politicians are only slightly less popular than rabid skunks,  Mr. New Age Future Lies Ahead wants to run on a platform of “Don’t Rock the Boat”?


The Empire struck back within moments of the comment with a volcanic eblast attacking Brown for having “no plans to shake up the status quo.” The eMegs jumped him with the same play Wednesday, when he again left himself wide open to the charge that he’s a status quo insider, as he was pressed in a TV interview for specifics of how he would address the budget mess.

As previously, Brown responded to the line of questioning with nothing but tired bromides about getting all the legislators in a room and going through the budget line by line blah blah blah, ending with this exchange with CNBC’s Jane Wells:

When will we get a specific plan?
Well the plan is to go over each item of the budget.
But when will we…
That is the plan. The plan is the process.

Ah. Yes, it all makes sense now:

The plan is the process.
The process is the plan.
I am the walrus.
Goo goo g’joob.

eMeg plays go fetch: Not to be outdone by any measure, Whitman held up her end of the inane comment sweepstakes, when she was asked at a Roseville event what she would do as governor, after she criticized lawmakers for taking their summer break with the budget unresolved.

Whitman also said all lawmakers should stay in Sacramento during the upcoming July recess and forgo their per diem. Legislative leaders have said they will likely send most legislators home during the break – without per diem – while the budget committee and leaders hash out the budget.

“What I would do is take this Legislature and say, ‘OK, 10 of you go find money here, 10 go find money here, 10 go find money here,’ ” Whitman said.

By golly, our Meg’s got it! We can hear the Democratic leadership already: “We’ll solve the budget crisis by having a treasure hunt! Why didn’t we think of this sooner? Hurrah for Meg!”

Or not.

And don’t call me chief! Senator Barbara Boxer won a procedural victory Wednesday, when her Environment and Public Works Committee moved legislation she favors to remove the liability cap on oil companies that cause spills.

But Republican rival Carly Fiorina’s backers on Capitol Hill were gleefully sending around this excerpt from the hearing, which they see as standing up their argument that Babs is an arrogant, ideologically isolated player who even alienates members of her own party, as evidenced by 1) fellow Democrat and Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus lecturing her with a not very subtle jab for pandering legislation that is more “message” than substance and 2) Herself responding by putting on a most frightful version of her best Don’t-Call-Me-Ma’am frown.

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There are 2 comments for this post

  1. avatar patwater says:

    The Boxer video is somewhat misleading without context. Boxer offered an amendment to S 3305 to eliminate the liability cap–the vehicle for the procedural victory you speak of. The Reeps then offered a series of other amendments to that amendment. One, for example, would have vested authority to determine liability caps on a case by case basis with the president. Another would have set a 5% limit on attorneys fees, similar to a limit placed on the 9/11 escrow fund.

    Here Baucus started to take issue with the direction of the mark up. So far, all the Reep amendments to S 3305 failed on a strict party line vote. But (from where I was sitting at least) you could start to see the wheels turning inside Baucus head towards “Hmmm maybe this actually makes sense…” He asked a series of questions about the efficacy of the cap in the 9/11 fund (everyone thought it worked brilliantly) and its applicability to the structure of the current Gulf fund. Then he voted no because that’s what the Dems were doing on this particular amendment.

    I’m no defender of Babs’ ideological arrogance, but I do believe in Truth–as well as justice and the American way. In the full context of what actually transpired at the mark up, it becomes clear that Baucus wasn’t lamenting Boxers amendment as being pure hot air in particular but the process in general. The whole thing was a dog and pony show where the Dems had their populist pound of flesh (Boxer’s amendment) and the Reeps tried to see what sort of good sounding amendments they good get the Dems on record as voting down. Baucus was trying to play the elder statesmen, lamenting the fact that nobody talks about the issues anymore. He was yearning for an earlier time when an event like the Deep Horizon oil spill would have merited a thoughtful discussion to ameliorate damages and make sure it doesn’t happen again–a nonideological, nonpartisan question about how to get shit done. He–probably rightly–didn’t see that going on in the mark up yesterday from both sides of the aisle; hence the impromptu speech.

    Long story short: shit’s more complicated than 2 minute campaign vids would have it.

  2. avatar BigCahuna says:

    “Fix the process” is NOT a compelling message. It leaves everyone – including the Democratic base – wondering * where * a candidate wants to lead us.

    It reminds me of the “it’s not about ideas, it’s about competence” line.

    We all know how well that one worked.

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