So much of politics is scripted, focused-grouped and calculated that when a political professional says or does something out of the ordinary, absurd or just plain stupid, we often smack ourselves upside the head and say, “What were they thinking?”
While we could pick any number of examples, today we focus on three recent forehead slappers by Barack Obama, Fred Davis and Jerry Brown.
What was Obama thinking when he endorsed Democratic Congressman Pete Stark for re-election last week?
As we noted the other day, the 20-term East Bay congressman is an embarrassment to himself and his constituents and ought to withdraw and throw his support to Democratic Alameda county prosecutor Eric Swalwell who has the advantage of being 1) sane and 2) not a drooler and 3) verbalizer of the line that Stark’s behavior has “forced the congressman to issue more public apologies than Lindsay Lohan.”
In recent days – before Obama’s bonehead endorsement – Stark falsely and maliciously accused Deborah “The Red” Saunders, the SF Chronicle’s in-house token conservative columnist, of donating money to Swalwell’s campaign. He idiotically confused Solyndra, the belly-up solar energy company, with Tesla, the electric car company, both in his district.
And Stark issued a phony “apology” for having charged that Swalwell took hundreds of thousands of dollars in “bribes” in a statement that went on to charge that “Swalwell has been a consistent vote on the Dublin City Council and on the Planning Commission supporting projects by developers who have been raided by the FBI, have plead guilty to destroying natural habitats.”
What kind of political advice did Obama get on this one? Did no one read the 2008 Esquire list of the 10 worst lawmakers in Congress in which they noted, “Stark gives bumbling, dyspeptic old fools who say stupid things a bad name.”
What was Fred Davis thinking when he wrote up a 54-page advertising plan for Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade, and his pro-Mitt Romney super PAC?
The plan was designed to correct the impression Obama gave to voters that he is, according to the Davis memo, a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.” It would do this by linking Obama to the incendiary Chicago pastor, Jeremiah Wright and his black liberation theology.
We have a soft spot in our Calbuzzard hearts for Davis because he was creator of the marvelously amusing “Demon Sheep” ad for Carly Fiorina’s successful campaign for the Republican nomination for Senate in 2010 – the spooky spot that suggested former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Davis also did the delightful “I am not a witch” ad for Republican Christine O’Donnell in Delaware.
But jeez, Fred. Obama has been president for nearly four years already. People know he’s not a raging, black power radical – even if you could make the unlikely case that his former preacher is one. A fact not lost of Romney himself who said:
“I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they’ve described.” (Of course, Romney couldn’t leave it at that, so he added: “I think what we’ve seen so far from the Obama campaign is a campaign of character assassination. I hope that isn’t the course of this campaign. So in regards to that PAC, I repudiate what they’re thinking about.” (Asked later what “character assassination” he was talking about, Romney pointed to Obama about Romney’s history at Bain Capital – where he was a job assassin).
Not only that, Fred, but you really pissed off former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, now mayor of Chicago, who immediately put the kibosh on a multimillion dollar plan to help the Ricketts family refurbish Wrigley Field, which they own. Oops.
What’s Jerry Brown thinking doing national news interviews, one after another, including the self-aggrandizing, pompous Charlie Rose? But not sitting down with Calbuzz?
If he’s going to throw around Latin phrases like nemo dat quod habet (no one gives what he doesn’t have) to explain why California has to either approve his tax hike plan or suffer even deeper budget cuts, he ought to be making those comments to a California news outlet, preferably us.
If he told us, “This is not Europe. We’re not the European society with it kind of sclerotic regimes and economy and social structure,” we’d at least have the wherewithal to ask him if he’s taking about Greece, Germany or Great Britain. And why he wants to insult potential California trading partners. And where does he think Jacques is, anyway?
Also, Rose let him off pretty easy when Brown said, “This is where they invented Facebook, not in Texas, not in Arizona, not in Manhattan and certainly not under the White House and the Congress. This is still the Wild West and we’re going to prove to the rest of the country and the world that we know how to do it.”
When Rose, laughing, noted that Facebook was invented in Cambridge, Mass., Brown froze for about three seconds staring at the camera before replying, “Well, wherever it was invented, this is where they are.”
True, that Gov. Gandalf. But what were you thinking? And by the way, if you’re going to announce a $14 billion water project (on top of your $60-$100 billion high-speed rail proposal), why are you giving that story of Charlie “Do You Think I’m Smart” Rose?
Rose didn’t even get a few of your best quotes. He did pick up on your explanation of how you’ll balance the budget if your tax measure doesn’t pass: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat. There’s many roads to Calcutta and we’re going to take whichever one will get us there.” But he apparently wasn’t sensitive to the fact that the Indan-American voters of California might not like your suggestion that taking the road to Calcutta is like skinning a cat.
Rose certainly missed the theological roots of your statement, “At this stage of my life, this is what I’ve been called upon to do and God willing I’m going to do it.”
And though it was in response to a lame question about how much you’re “betting” on the upcoming tax vote, Rose also missed: “I don’t have that much of a future. I’ve got more of a past that a future. I’m not betting anything.”
Except your word, or did you forget you promised you had the experience and the knowledge to fix California?