Republican Neel Kashkari has challenged Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to 10 debates, which is what Brown did in 2010 when he was facing Meg Whitman. Then, however, the job was open, and neither was the incumbent governor. And eMeg had more money than she knew what to do with while Jerry was rattling his tin cup.
Joint appearances would “show the voters that we can act as adults and actually treat each other with respect,” Brown argued then. “We’ll certainly consider debating, providing we can work out the scheduling and details to offer something substantive and worthwhile to voters,” his spokesman says today with the back of his hand.
Kashkari is the Tyrion Lannister of California politics. Like the most popular character in “Game of Thrones,” he’s emerged out of the Republican party as a rare rational humanist from a tribe packed with vicious xenophobes, weapons fetishists and autocratic Tories; like Tyrion, aka “The Imp” and “Halfman,” Kashkari is a puckish, elfin figure; and like his HBO show counterpart, the GOP wannabe is way over his head in a high-stakes game of politics and power.
It would be amusing to see The Imp and Governor Gandalf square off. Maybe Kash could explain further his desire for California to more fully develop California’s oil and gas. (Ten debates would produce more gas for sure.) And the wonky wizard could expound in Latin (sic transit transit?) the value of investing in high-speed rail instead of highways.
Of course, we in the so-called “news media” always root for debates (but not 10, fercrineoutloud). In fact, we insist demand humbly propose that at least one Calbuzzard should be on the panel of journalists that questions the candidates.
But seriously, if you were Gandalf’s political adviser, would you tell him to give The Imp equal status and exposure by sharing the debate stage with the incumbent governor? Of course not. Calls for the free flow of ideas and a robust interchange of positions on the critical issues are always a function of ethical relativism. And even though Brown rejects transactional ethics, he’s also a savvy tactician.
When you’re 30, 40 or some other factor of 10, points ahead of your challenger in the polls, you’d only agree to debate if a) you thought it was the right thing to do or b) you thought voters might think you’re a chicken-livered kissy-mamma if you don’t. And maybe not even then.
“I guarantee you he is going to duck and hide underneath his desk and avoid trying to debate me,” The Imp said on KFMB-AM radio in San Diego the other day. Seriously? You think you can bait Gandalf?
Kashkari is now arguing that Gov. Brown can be beaten. But in the June primary, Brown carried every county except Modoc and Lassen. And even in those,which Tim Donnelly carried, Brown beat Kashkari handily.
Sorry Neel, there’s only one challenger who might have a chance of beating Brown in November. And as far as we know, the Grim Reaper has not taken out campaign papers.
Note: Our exclusive mashups of Tyrion Kashkari and Governor Gandalf were made by the talented David Trounstine.