Fishwrap: This Just In from Krusty, eMeg & Babs

Jul9

We wish we’d said that: Calbuzz felt verdant with envy at reading the nice perceptual scoop that Christiana Bellantoni posted on Talking Points Memo, which drew a parallel between the strategy and tactics of Meg Whitman’s zillion dollar campaign for governor and Barack Obama’s technologically groundbreaking operation in 2008.

Yeah, yeah, we know eMeg ain’t exactly in Obama’s class when it comes to public speaking, much preferring a crisp three-bullet Power Point approach when it comes to world class oratory; nor do we see too many folks fainting or leaping from their chairs to shout “Fired up – ready to go” when Her Megness hits the closing chords of the eight millionth delivery of her somnolent stump speech.

But Bellantoni’s yarn (graphic stolen shamelessly from TPM) –  “Meg Whitman Copies ‘Obama Playbook’ in Pursuit of her California Dreams” — did a swell job of finding a story hiding in plain sight. She drew together strands of reporting about the mechanics of the Whitman operation that have been produced, variously, by Ken McLaughlin, Jack Chang and, uh, us into an analysis of the race that casts eMeg as the high-tech candidate of change and Jerry Brown as, well, John McCain.

The Democratic take on Whitman being a 2010 version of Barack Obama? “In her dreams,” they say. And of course, much of Obama’s success had to do with the candidate’s own popularity and appeal. Obama was a young, African-American senator who represented generational change and used technology to mass finance much of his campaign. Whitman is a middle-aged former tech CEO who’s already self-financed her campaign to the tune of almost $100 million. But plenty of the building blocks and strategies of the Obama ’08 effort can be copied. And Whitman seems to be trying to duplicate pretty much all of them.

Krusty McCain: Her Obama-McCain take, while flawed, certainly resonated on Thursday, when Team Whitman rolled out a big new Spanish language outdoor advertising program to keep pressing her aggressive bid for Latino voters, while Brown responded by surrounding himself with a bunch of Hispanic pols and hacks who complained that she’s shading the truth about her stance on illegal immigration.

Sample remark, from U.S. Rep Xavier Becerra: “Jerry Brown broke bread with Cesar Chavez.  His opponent breaks bread with Pete Wilson [aka in Mexico City 1999 "Hijo de Puta"]

“Leaders are quite chagrined and shocked at the way the Whitman campaign can say one thing in English which is very hostile to the Latino community and then take out billboards and ads and make it sound like she was fighting Pete Wilson and Prop. 187 when in truth she wasn’t even here in the state of California,” Brown said.

Brown does have a point about eMeg’s claim that she opposed Prop. 187, seeing as how she lived in Massachusetts when the measure was on the ballot, wasn’t even a voter and has since agreed with fundamental aspects of it, to wit: Illegal immigrants should not expect benefits from the state of California. No driver’s license and no admission to state-funded institutions of higher education.

But hey, despite her casual relationship with true facts, at least she’s reaching out to Latinos. We’re still waiting to see Brown actually break a sweat in search of Latino votes.

He hit me, he hit me: Since the start of the World Cup, Slate has been running a terrific feature called “Dive of the Day,” which presents video of the top flop by a player who falls to the ground in fake distress,  taking the slightest hint of contact as an opportunity to roll around, grab his limbs and contort his face in horror, all in an  effort to convince the ref he’s been fouled. (Good examples are herehere and here ).

As Dave Eggers wonderfully described it, diving is:

…essentially a combination of acting, lying, begging, and cheating, and these four behaviors make for an unappealing mix. The sheer theatricality of flopping is distasteful, as is the slow-motion way the chicanery unfolds….Go and do the grocery shopping and perhaps open a new money-market account at the bank, and when you return, our flopper will still be on the ground, holding his shin, his head thrown back in mock-agony. It’s disgusting, all of it, particularly because, just as all of this fakery takes a good deal of time and melodrama to put over, the next step is so fast that special cameras are needed to capture it. Once the referees have decided either to issue a penalty or not to our Fakey McChumpland, he will jump up, suddenly and spectacularly uninjured—excelsior!—and will kick the ball over to his teammate and move on.

The melodramatic element of diving, in particular, came to mind when we received a communiqué from Her Megness, complaining that Jerry Brown and his allies were spending too much money on TV ads that are unkind to her.

Whitman media buyer Kyle Roberts sent a memo to campaign reporters whining about the sheer unfairness of it all:

Jerry Brown Incorporated continues its spending on attack ads against the Meg Whitman for Governor Campaign. To date, Jerry Brown Inc. which consists of union backed California Working Families, Level the Playing Field, the California Democratic Party and Jerry Brown 2010 have spent $6.6 million in advertising on broadcast, cable TV and radio. Of the $6.6 million, approximately $1 million has been spent on positive (pro-Jerry Brown ads) leaving $5.6 million in negative attack ads.

…it is quite clear that if Jerry Brown Inc. continues to double its spending and attack Meg Whitman at this level, it will be necessary for Meg Whitman to continue to defend herself from these attacks in order to ensure a competitive position for the General Election.

The mind boggles.

Putting aside the facts that 1) eMEg spends $5.6 million before lunch and 2) she went on the air for about 12 seconds with a positive spot before starting to air an anti-Brown ad portraying him as a cross between Jerry Rubin and Jerry Garcia, the sheer audacity of a) Team eMeg unctuously complaining about someone else’s spending on TV ads and b) gussying up their complaint to justify even more – “Well, I guess we have no choice but to throw another $100 million in the pot, Mike” – would be breathtaking, if it wasn’t so hilarious.

The refs say: No foul. Get up and keep playin’, Meg.

And don’t call me chief! Senator Barbara Boxer has been beaten up for over a year for the infamous You Tube moment when she upbraided Brigadier General Michael Walsh in the course of a hearing before her Environment and Public Works Committee for addressing her as “ma’am” rather than as “Senator.”

By now, Boxer’s huffy snit of petty arrogance has become an iconic image for her legions of political enemies, who find in the brief exchange with General Walsh personification of all the condescending,  Chardonnay liberal elitist values which they can’t abide.

Given that we’ve mentioned the episode, oh, once or twice, we thought it only sporting that, given a chance to talk to her the other night, we should ask her the key question that’s so long troubled us about the matter: WTF was that all about ?

Our query came at the end of a long  campaign day for Boxer and, when we raised it, she shot a hard look, as if calculating how quickly she could kick open the door of the van and push us out, somersaulting along the highway at a high rate of speed. To her credit, she quickly suppressed any sign of crankiness and offered this explanation:

I really wasn’t trying to make a point. We were going back and forth in the hearing, and I was calling him “General” and he was calling me “ma’am” and I just thought we should both use our formal titles.

For the record, Boxer also said she called Walsh after the hearing to check in and he told her, no worries. So there you have it, exclusive to Calbuzz.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Lindsay Lohan channels Clarence Darrow.


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There are 2 comments for this post

  1. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    A campaign run completely on bazillions of dollars of commercials versus one run with tens of thousands of volunteers? Yeah, I completely see the similarity.

    Whatever Ms. Bellantoni is smoking, it’s good!

  2. avatar gdewar says:

    great reporting, and analysis as always. I think I forward your posts more than anyone elses right now – most “reporting” on the governor’s race is a joke.

    BTW, while I’m not on Team Lohan ,and think that her stint in the slammer might straighten her out a little, TMZ pulled a reporting fail. Read Slackmistress’ post:

    http://www.theslackdaily.com/2010/07/whereupon-i-come-to-the-defense-of-lindsay-lohan.html

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