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Posts Tagged ‘attack ads’



eMeg’s Historic Meltdown: Woman Booed by Women

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

LONG BEACH  — Handed a splendid opportunity to portray her campaign as an historic event for women in politics, Meg Whitman made a different kind of history on Tuesday.

Campaigning to become California’s first female governor, Republican Whitman accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of getting roundly booed by a non-partisan audience of 14,000 women gathered to, um, celebrate the accomplishments of women.

In a remarkable few moments of unscripted political theater, eMeg turned cheers to jeers at the California Women’s Conference in Long Beach, as she fumbled and stumbled through an excruciatingly awkward exchange about TV attack ads with Democratic rival Jerry Brown and NBC’s Matt Lauer, who moderated the unusual session, which also included outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As on two previous occasions when she was forced to react in real time outside the accustomed comfort of her campaign cocoon – her famously awful 2009 press conference when she tried to defend her decades-long failure to vote and the presser she convened a few weeks ago to answer questions about employing an undocumented housekeeper for nine years –  eMeg on Tuesday displayed a rare combination of political tone deafness and an utter inability to think on her feet.

By the time the fireworks ended, Whitman had not only failed to take advantage of a chance to boost her sagging standing among women voters, a week before the Nov. 2 election, but also succeeded in making her male opponent look good.

In the process, she managed to embarrass herself with a thoroughly dopey performance before the state’s political press corps and most of the TV cameras south of the Tehachapis, making major campaign news out of what should have been a feel-good appearance at a touchy-feely event.

How it started: The drama began near the end of the live session with the governor and the two candidates who want to succeed him, as Lauer — who demonstrated he knows absolutely NOTHING about politics — shamelessly sought to play to the kumbaya crowd with a horseshit, goody-goody question.

First decrying the negative ads that both sides have run – which, Lauer emoted, have created a “bloodbath” (puh-leeze) – he asked:

“Would either of you, or both of you, be willing to make a pledge that you would end the negativity? [Big cheer] Would you pull your negative ads and replace them with positive ads and talk to the surrogate groups as well [which would be ILLEGAL, you jackass, which is why they're called independent expenditures] and express that to them, that you want only positive message out there to give the people of California a break and let them decide what really matters. Would either of you accept that?”

It was a totally inappropriate question and actually unfair to Whitman, who is behind in all the public polls and has no choice in a tough campaign in which she’s invested $140 million of her own money, but to try to pull voters away from Brown. In any event, that’s her decision. And Lauer had no business sticking his scrawny ass into the campaign and trying to broker some deal because he thinks that’s how the game should be played. If he knew anything about politics in general and California politics in particular he would not have asked such a dimwit question.

But the women in the audience, who spent the day applauding the inspirational good works of poets, playwrights, Supreme Court justices — not to mention Oprah Winfrey and conference convener and California First Lady Maria Shriver — thundered their approval.

Round One: Brown answered first, venturing forth with a Buddhist-tinged meditation on the subjective nature of reality — “First of all you have to remember, negativity is in the eye of the beholder . . .” –drawing scattered boos and hoots. But Brown’s political antennae suddenly tuned in — “Oh yeah,” he must have thought, “I’m AHEAD, I can afford to go all positive if she does” — and with head-snapping alacrity, he switched direction:  “. . . but if Meg wants to do that, I’ll be glad to do that.”

Cheers.

Then eMeg started digging herself in, trying to draw a bright line distinction between her negative ads – true, honorable and all about the issues – and Brown’s negative ads – false, unfair personal assaults on her sterling character. Sez her.

“The character attacks, the attacks of personal destruction, the attacks on one’s character I think are very different than a debate on the issues. It’s OK that Jerry Brown and I disagree, for example, about the capital gains tax – something I think should be eliminated and he doesn’t. It’s OK to have a discussion around the issues,” Whitman argued. “What I have found very challenging, and I’ll be honest about it, is the personal attacks. The things that I have been called in this campaign – it’s not fair to the voters of California, it isn’t the right thing to do…”

Lauer broke in and got up on his New York know-nothing high horse: “There’s been enough slurs and housekeepers. We know you are both flawed people. Everybody in this room is flawed…But what is going to accomplish what Gov. Schwarzenegger is talking about – taking California to the next step, financially in particular, is going to be your strengths not your weaknesses. And I’m asking again, will you both pledge? I’ll give you 24 hours because I know the wheels of a campaign don’t stop overnight,” he said, as if he actually knew anything about how campaigns operate.

Round Two: Brown, quick as ever, joined Lauer’s game: “Let’s be clear about it: if she takes her negative ads, reasonably defined, I’ll take mine off. No question. We do it together. No problem. . . . I pledge that right now.” Krusty was in for a dime, in for a dollar, eliciting big cheers from the ladies at lunch.

But Meg kept digging, trying to parse and finesse the question before an audience that was in full bay for promises of sweetness and light.

“So here’s what I will do,” she said. “I’ll take down any ad that could even be remotely construed as a personal attack. But I don’t think we can take down the ads that talk about where Gov. Brown stands on the issues. I just think it’s not the right thing to do.”

Booooo, hisssss, hoooot….

Lauer said people seem to be asking for more.  And Brown smelled blood in the water.

“I’ve got one nice ad where I look into the camera and I just say what I’m for,” he said, ever so reasonably to Whitman. “You have a very nice ad where you look into the camera – it’s a pretty good ad by the way. We’ll leave up one and let all the other ones go off. I’ll agree to that right now.”

Lauer tried to seal the deal but Whitman froze. “Let me try a different approach…” he said, when Brown jumped in, offering Whitman a lifeline: “You know, I don’t think it’s quite fair, to [have to] make a decision in the face of all this,” he said, sounding ever so gentle.

Round three: Lauer said he’d studied the polls [right] before he came to California and “some could say what you’ve tried to this point isn’t completely working, why not try a different course,” he lectured Whitman. “And Gov. Brown, some could say if you do believe the polls and you’re leading, I would imagine you wouldn’t only want to think it’s because you diminished your opponent, correct, so get rid of all those things” — which was doubly stupid because 1) Brown is happy to diminish his opponent and 2) he’d already agreed to Lauer’s dumbass proposal.

But Whitman kept digging:

“I think it’s important because I’m new to politics. People need to know where I stand and also they need to know Jerry Brown has been in politics for 40 years and there’s a long track record there and I want to make sure people really understand what’s going on.

“And I’m not doing it in a mean-spirited way. [Guffaws in the press tent] I just think it’s important for people to really understand what the track record was in Oakland, what the track record was as governor,” she said, while audience members started searching for overripe vegetables to throw.

His lifeline rejected, Brown decided to go in for the kill: “I’ve got a great ad. It starts off with Meg Whitman saying I moved to California 30 years ago because it was such a great place with all this opportunity. And then the ad says, and who was governor?”

Huge uproarious laughter and whooping in the press tent.

Did Meg stop digging? No way. “What you need to know is that in many ways, Jerry Brown left the state in worse shape than he did (sic) when he inherited it,” she said.

Booooooo…

[Capsule clip here]

End Game: Lauer was worried he was going too long until Schwarzenegger told him the conference was his and Maria’s and he shouldn’t schvitz (sweat) the extra minutes. And then he said nice things about Meg, nice things about Jerry and also rapped Meg with the back of his hand,  implicitly defending his record against her constant refrain that she as governor would make California “golden again.”

“I happen to disagree with Meg a little bit,” the governor said. “California is going to be a golden state once again? California is a golden state!”

Bottom line: eMeg should have listened to Calbuzz and played the gender card. Everything leading up to that moment was all about how it’s time for a woman. Instead, she spun gold into straw.

The mistress of swag: Before the fun started, the Calbuzz Department of Consumer Affairs and Worthless Tchotchke Collections was privileged to receive an extraordinary guided tour of the exhibit hall where conference sponsors and vendors were hawking their wares.

Our guide, a prominent MSM reporter whose name is withheld to avoid embarrassing her family, led us on an expedition that netted products ranging from hand sanitizers, body lotions and KY “intensity cream” samples to miniature flashlights from SoCal Edison, cardio stent stress squeeze balls and countless varieties of health bars from a host of fruit and nut manufacturers.

Best score: A package of postcards trumpeting all 125 careers that Barbie has engaged in over the years of her existence, including TV newswoman Barbie.

How eMeg Should Play Gender; Rove Boosts Lungren

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

LONG BEACH — When Gov. Schwarzenegger, Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown join Matt Lauer, host of the “Today Show,”  for a four-way here today at Maria Shriver’s star-studded Women’s Conference, it’s supposed to be a civil, genteel, collegial discussion of the problems facing the Great State of California titled “Who We Are, Where We Are Going.” Isn’t that nice?

But for eMeg — who is trailing in all the public polls just one week before the election — it’s a last chance to squeeze off a big, fat, juicy sound bite that gets played all over the state and the country. And maybe — if Krusty sticks his smug, condescending foot in his mouth — she could put Brown on the defensive.

Jerry will be in protect-the-ball mode and Schwarzmuscle will probably be cruising on automatic statesman (unless he gets asked why he hasn’t endorsed fellow Republican Meg). So the big question is whether Whitman will break the rules and attack or challenge Brown.

Now, Team Whitman hasn’t listened to anything Calbuzz has ever suggested and they pretty much regard us as bad cheese (NB: we asked her to dinner and for an interview but never got either). But still we humbly offer this suggestion: Meg should say something like, “So, Jerry Brown has a long, long career working in the public sector, but you know what — it’s time for a woman to be governor. And I’m ready to do the job.” Or some such.

What’s Gandalf going to say? “No it’s not time for a woman. It’s time for a 72-year-old white guy.”

We kinda doubt eMeg will play the gender card. If she had wanted to, she could have put a gazillion dollars behind it in a TV ad. Feminism isn’t really in her wheelhouse. And as we wrote back in June, party is a much stronger motivator of the vote than is gender. But these are desperate times. She’s way behind among women voters and a rank appeal to sisterhood just might help — especially if she’s actually as close as her advisers have been furiously spinning in the past few days.

Whatever happens, the entire National Affairs Desk of Calbuzz — sparing no cost or effort — is here in Long Beach to capture the flavor and texture of the moment. If there is one. Otherwise, we’re just going to lunch.

How Rove Is Helping Lungren: Here’s a Special to Calbuzz from Mackenzie Weinger,  one of our vast array of political writers in Washington.

The number one target among House races for American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s so-called “Super PAC, is California’s 3rd congressional district.

American Crossroads recently made a $682,323 ad buy against physician Ami Bera (D), who is challenging Rep. Dan Lungren (R) in one of the state’s few close races. While the group has dumped millions into several Senate races across the country, this buy marks its biggest investment in any House campaign.

“It’s the biggest House buy, but it’s also the single most expensive media market we’ve purchased time in for the House,” American Crossroads spokesperson Jonathan Collegio told Calbuzz. “In terms of voter impression, it’s equal to most of our other efforts.”

Lucinda Guinn, Bera’s campaign manager, said the IE buy, although not coordinated with the Lungren campaign, should give residents an insight into the incumbent Republican’s priorities.

“We’ve mounted a very serious challenge to a career politician who didn’t see it coming, and now his big oil buddies and special interest friends are coming to bail him out because he’s nervous,” Guinn told us.

Attack ads from the rival’s campaigns have been hitting TV screens for weeks now, but American Crossroads’ is the biggest independent spending in the district’s media market.

Lungren released an ad this week, “Who is Ami Bera?”, calling Bera Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “handpicked candidate”— an attack that Republicans across the country are using. As for Bera, he made a splash earlier this month with “Shirts,” an ad that criticized Lungren for attending a 2008 conference in Hawaii with campaign funds. Although the trip was cleared by the House Ethics Committee, Bera’s campaign alleges Lungren exploited a loophole for a free vacation.

That’s just part of the Bera campaign’s focus on Lungren and campaign finance. The real concern, Guinn says, is what would happen if Republicans take the House on Nov. 2 and Lungren wins the Third District: as the ranking GOPer on the Committee on House Administration, Lungren is in line to become its chair.

“He would have jurisdiction over campaign finance regulation,” she noted. “He’s been looking out for his own folks for a long time – for big oil, Wall Street and his special interest friends.”

With his vote against the DISCLOSE Act and the recent influx of outside spending, Guinn said that “Lungren claims he supports campaign finance transparency, but he’s not saying anything about Karl Rove coming in” to the district.

“Outside groups and Karl Rove showing up in your living room is not what Californians care about,” she said.

Bera has written a blog post about Lungren and campaign finances that’s been making the rounds on the Internet. He writes that “Rove’s shadowy slush fund” is “hoping to hijack our election through false and misleading advertising.” Bera, who reported $448,859 cash on hand for the most recent filing period, is set to debut a new ad sometime this week, Guinn said.

But America Crossroads operative Collegio said that Lungren is the one under attack by special interests in the toss-up race.

“Lungren is heavily targeted by a well-funded opponent and a number of labor groups who wanted to defeat him in the general, and we believe our efforts serve a good balancing effect in the dynamics of the race,” he said.

He said the district is a critical one for Republicans, and added that the organization may release a new ad there this week.

“Every competitive race for control of the house is important, and while most of the focus has been on Republican pickups, it’s equally important to protect incumbents, especially when they’ve come under attack by outside organizations,” he said.

Check out the American Crossroads ad attacking Bera on health care reform:

Announcer: Not only does Ami Bera support Obamacare, he says it doesn’t go far enough. Obamacare’s $525B in job killing taxes isn’t far enough? The higher insurance premiums aren’t far enough? How about the $500B cut from Medicare? And reduced benefits for over 1.5 million California seniors? Ami Bera and Obamacare – They’re bad medicine for California. American Crossroads is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Speaking of ads: Here at Calbuzz we’re big fans of spots where the candidate contradicts him or herself or where a candidate is caught saying nice things about his or her opponent, to wit, this tasty morsel slapped together by Team Krusty with eMeg opening by saying , “You know, 30 years ago anything was possible in this state.” Followed by a black screen question and answer:  Who was governor 30 years ago? Jerry Brown.” Followed by the Peter Coyote voice-over recounting Brown’s accomplishments, followed in turn by a news station’s raw footage of Whitman saying, “I mean it’s why I came to California so many years ago.” Not sure how much dough Brown’s campaign will put behind it, but it’s a nice touch.

Meanwhile, Team eMeg unleashed yet another attack ad, this one accusing Brown of being a dishonest failure and a “job killer,” whose only plan for California is “more taxes, more spending and more lost jobs.” And he’s a tool of the unions and a liar, to boot. In case you were wondering.

Meyer: Careful Where You Motor That Boat, Carly

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

When Barbara Boxer’s attack ad on Carly Fiorina came out the other day, with its mention of Fiorina’s “million dollar yacht,” we were reminded of an unfortunate nautical gaffe  made by another Republican candidate for U.S. Senate — John Seymour, who was trying in 1992 to hang onto the seat he’d been appointed to by Pete Wilson, after Wilson became governor.

Challenged by Dianne Feinstein, Seymour was a decent man but something of a hapless statewide candidate. And it didn’t help when, at the California Republican Party Convention, he was trying to demonstrate his sensitivity to the down-and-out by saying: “Sometimes you lose your job. Maybe you’ve got to sell your boat to keep your family going.”

He tried later to explain himself, telling our friend Cathy Decker at the LA Times: “I wasn’t speaking of yacht owners. Boat owners! There’s hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions (of boats) in California.” But he never could portray himself as anything but a wealthy, Orange County Republican and, in the election that swept Bill Clinton into the White House, Feinstein beat him 54-38%.

None of which anyone but a few alter kockers even remembers. But it is a delicious backdrop for Calbuzzer Chief Pen Stabber Tom Meyer’s cartoon this week in which an environmentally challenged Hurricane Carly is outraged at the damn proletarian whale (sorry Babs) that gets in the way of her yacht.


Senate situationer: As Babs and Carly prepare to spar on public radio Wednesday afternoon, a non-face-to-face showdown certain to be heard by hundreds, three quick thoughts on the state of the the race:

1-Team Fiorina may come to regret giving Boxer a free pass to pummel their candidate for a full week without offering an answer to Bab’s tough ad about Carly’s reign of error at HP.

At a time when most recession-riddled voters are just tuning in, and one third of them know next to the nothing about Fiorina, the attack line Babs has pressed since the first debate about Hurricane slashing 30,000 jobs is not exactly the first thing Mean Girl wanted folks to know about her.

2-When Fiorina finally responded, she didn’t even try to blunt the heart-of-cold CEO narrative that Boxer is pushing, but rather tried to change the subject with her beat down of Babs for getting all huffy with a general for not using her correct title.

Boxer’s worst You Tube moment is a great insider issue, but not particularly salient to the problems of the unemployed; moreover, many women voters of Barbara’s generation, and the one that followed, who had to fight fiercely for respect in the workplace, may not think she was all that out of line with her comment.

3-The big unknown in the campaign remains the question of whether Fiorina will benefit from a massive cash infusion from the Rove Republican forces now funneling hundreds of millions of post-Citizens United corporate dollars, often with no disclosure of the donors, into mid-term races across the country.

Two factors mitigate against it: a) giving iCarly a real boost will be a most expensive proposition and any organization that decides to play in California, shadowy or not, must be all-in to be effective – half measures won’t do it; b) unlike eMeg, Fiorina has yet to make a serious and sustained financial commitment to the race out of her own pocketbook; one of the assets national Republicans originally saw in her candidacy was her ability to self-fund.

Given the latest polls, until she puts in more than table stakes, they may decide their money can be spent more efficiently, and with a greater chance of success, on smaller battlegrounds. A Senate seat is a Senate seat, no matter wherefrom.

eMeg vs. Krusty: The Empire Strikes First

Friday, June 11th, 2010

For those keeping score at home: Meg Whitman’s Imperial Troopers staged a strong, focused and coordinated offensive march Thursday, while Jerry Brown and his Rebel Alliance scrapped and scraped to hang in against her lavishly financed campaign operation.

It was an early test of how Democrat Brown’s who-needs-consultants guerrilla strategy matches up in the governor’s race against Republican Whitman’s top-shelf marketing machine, as Team eMeg quickly put Team Krusty in a defensive posture while he spent the day responding to her aggressive, out-of-the-box tactical moves.

While the GOP candidate herself enjoyed a triumphant Silicon Valley homecoming rally, chief strategist Mike Murphy published a trenchant essay setting forth his frame for the general election, as the Whitman communications staff spent the day throwing marbles in front of Brown while unveiling her first TV ad of the campaign.

Not surprisingly, it was a positive spot, as eMeg needs to spend time and money reviving her battered image from the damage sustained during her thunder-to-the-right brawl with defeated GOP rival Steve Poizner. But by emphasizing her promise to focus on creating jobs, she also struck first to claim the top concern of voters in recession-wracked California.

California Labor Federation communications director Steve Smith reacted angrily on Brown’s behalf calling it “patently offensive that a billionaire like Whitman would even suggest she understands what families that have been devastated by unemployment are going through.”

“Meg Whitman’s life of wealth and privilege means she’s never had to worry about losing her home, paying household bills or affording to put her kids through college,” he said in a statement. “We need real solutions to the jobs crisis, not slick sound bites that fit neatly into a 30-second TV ad. And we certainly don’t need a billionaire telling our state’s unemployed that she understands the ‘human cost’ of joblessness.”

On eMeg’g behalf,  Sarah Palin contributed a televised  gratuitous shot to Brown’s shorts:

I guess I don’t have enough grace to apply to Jerry Brown when he says he isn’t going to be one for taxing Americans…I guess I don’t have enough grace to say “Hey Jerry, I believe ya.

Brown manager Steve Glazer immediately grabbed hold of Palin’s cheap shot for a web video pitch for money , while Brown’s labor pals  used their  Independent Expenditure committee to mock Whitman’s disgraceful voting record and the great man himself took a swing at Her Megness for her royal style:

The path forward is going to be honesty, not pamphlets and consultants’ scripted propaganda, but straight talk. Not flying around in private planes in a bubble of security guards and people protecting you every moment.

But as a new overnight poll showed the candidates tied (no surprise since Whitman no doubt got a bump out of all the fawning election election night coverage) the thinness in the ranks of Brown’s operation showed itself, as the candidate found himself exchanging charges with Sarah Pompei, eMeg’s press secretary, who’s three levels removed from her principal.

Confronted by reporters with Whitman’s quite legitimate charge that he hasn’t issued any specifics about his plan for the state, even on his website,  Krusty the General responded with a whining wheeze about being outspent:

“Hey, she has spent about $1 million dollars on her website, we have spent about $20,000 so I am running to catch up,” he said leaving a big opening for the volcanic Pompei to bitch slap him on behalf of her boss:

Despite having a $20 million campaign war-chest and the profits from his family’s oil fortune at his disposal, Governor Brown implied that he didn’t have enough money to put any new ideas on his website.  It’s ridiculous.  After 40 years in politics, it’s not surprising that Jerry Brown’s excuses are more specific, creative and innovative than his policy proposals are.

It was only one day in a long campaign but, after Brown’s shop-worn, John McCain-like call for 10 town hall meetings the day before, it demonstrated the extent to which the Democrat’s innate cheapness and stubborn contempt for campaign handlers can leave him in the free-fire zone against the Legions of Meg.

Memo to Jerry: It’s not 1974, and Meg ain’t Houston Flournoy.

(Memo to Jerry II: She’s also not Joseph Goebbels, Goebbels? Really? Goebbels? Nazi references in the governor’s race: Way, way over the line).

Luckily for Krusty, California Working Families, the labor-union-Ron Burkle-independent committee has a clean hit on Meg queued up and ready to run on Monday, reminding voters that Whitman has only a passing acquaintance with voting, can’t really explain why, and now is spending $150 million to get your vote.

Remind me again why they call her “Hurricane”? Having jammed one foot squarely into her mouth barely 24 hours after winning the Republican Senate primary, Carly Fiorina waited only a few hours to plug the other one into her pie hole, too.

As we noted Wednesday, iCarly put on a remarkable open mic diva act while awaiting an interview with KXTV, providing a splendid view to the state – indeed, the nation! -of her self-regarding arrogance and smugness, as the tape quickly debuted on the gab fests of the cable news shows.

Not content with having insulted Sister Meg’s “bizarre…bad choice” to go on Sean Hannity’s show (though not quite as bizarre as Fiorina’s own behavior) and meowed about Barbara Boxer’s hair, Hurricane Carly decided to do a little damage control by trooping over to Greta Van Sustern’s show shortly after to explain that it was all someone else’s fault.

See it wasn’t really Carly trashing Babs’s hair (BTW, wussup  with the “soooo yesterday” anyway? “Carly Fiorina – the only Valley Girl running for the United States Senate.” But we digress). No, she was just passing on something somebody else had said:

“I was quoting a friend of mine,” she told Greta, trying to laugh the whole thing off. Ha, ha, ha.

Sure l’affaire de hair is a silly little trifle. Beyond the clear evidence it provides that she’s constitutionally unable to stop flapping her gums, however, Fiorina’s gaffe on the first day of her campaign also is a perfect example of one of the character flaws most cited by her critics back at Hewlett Packard: her inability to take responsibility for her actions and her knee jerk reaction of pointing the finger at someone else.

Should be an interesting campaign.

Prop 14 redux: Check out this map from the Secretary of State’s web site showing the geographical breakdown of the vote on Proposition 14, the controversial “Top Two” election reform. Looks like everyone in the state who thinks that the partisan dysfunction in Sacramento is just swell – the commies in the People’s Republic of San Francisco and the right-wing royalists in the Kingdom of Orange – voted for it, while voters in the other 56 counties thought, what the hell, why not try something new.

Gov Race to Bottom, Scotus Gay Watch, Press Clips

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Steve Poizner, pouring another $2.5 million into his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor, unloads another new ad on eMeg Whitman today, this one attacking her for failing to vote for nearly three decades.

“For 28 years, Meg Whitman didn’t vote. Not once,” the ad says. “She didn’t vote for Ronald Reagan, George Bush, or Pete Wilson, for 28 years. Meg Whitman says she’s for Prop. 13, but over 100 times she could have voted against higher taxes and more spending, and she didn’t vote.”

Here’s what The Commish is up to (after spending about $22 million of his own money): a two-track negative campaign against Whitman.

Track One is ideological – the Tom McClintock and immigration ads, hammering Whitman for being too “liberal.”

Track Two is a character attack – the “Vulture” ad on Goldman Sachs and now an ad about how she wasn’t even a voter for most of her adult life.

Poizner’s message: Not only is Whitman bad on the issues but she’s a bad person.

None of which tells voters why they should vote for Poizner. And, of course, Whitman’s got plenty of hits on him on the air (especially after sticking another $5 million into the race, bringing her total to a staggering $64 million).

In fact, her latest, charging that he “supported partial birth abortion” manages to hammer Poizner on two tracks at once: not only is he too liberal, but he’s wicked to boot.

It’s a race to the bottom, sports fans.

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay: This whole Elena Kagan is-she-or-isn’t-she thing was giving us a big headache –  even before the Wall Street Journal suggested on the front page Obama’s new Supreme Court nominee  might be a switch hitter.

To recap: CBS News embarrassed itself big time last month, when its web site blithely ran a piece from Ben Domenech, a discredited, third-rate conservative blogger, declaring that Solicitor General Kagan would be the first gay justice were she appointed and confirmed. CBS pulled the post down, after the White House objected that the claim was a lie and Giant of Journalism Domenech acknowledged that he was only, you know, speculating about whether she was gay.

The issue disappeared briefly, then resurfaced when the president actually nominated Kagan this week. Ever since, there has been a rash of stories on the subject.

One of the stranger is Politico’s round-up of Friends of Elena to swear that she’s not gay; that one of these FOEs is Eliot Spitzer, the sex-crazed former New York governor, who rather mysteriously testified that “I did not go out with her, but other guys did…I don’t think it is my place to say more,” only added to our head scratching over the piece.

Now comes the Wall Street Journal, channeling the New York Post, its sister Murdoch paper, to run a big ole two column, page one photo of Kagan playing softball back in the day, which  photo promptly led some gay rights leaders to complain that the Journal’s Innuendo Editor was trying to signal, wink-wink-nudge-nudge, that Kagan is a lesbian because, after all, what other kind of woman would play softball, all of which led to much  brow furrowing and wool gathering from the big brains over at the Columbia Journalism Review.

Hence our aforementioned headache, arising from the fact that not a single one of these yarns raises the key questions: 1) Why is everyone from Obama to Happy Hooker Friend Spitzer acting like it would be some terrible scandal if Kagan were gay and 2) who the hell cares anyway?

The narrative line hasn’t been a total loss for us though: MLB.com’s Mark Newman did a terrific piece in which he asked a bunch of Mets and Nats players to analyze Kagan’s batting stance. Lots of thoughtful clubhouse debate about whether the bat’s too far from the hitting zone, but for our money Nationals closer Matt Capps offered the most trenchant comment:

It looks like she’s choking up there and she’s locked down, so it looks like she’s going to give you an aggressive fight — which is probably a good thing in the position she’s going to be in.

Press Clips: Must read of the week is LA Timesmen Evan Halper and Jack Dolan’s defining piece on eMeg’s business and financial dealings…We  don’t always agree with Robert Cruickshank’s political analysis, but it’s for sure the Oracle is a very smart fella and serious guy who works hard at making sense of where California is and where it’s going…After reading Connie Brucker’s New Yorker profile of Haim Saban, we finally understood why  the   L.A. Media tycoon is throwing millions at the effort to roll back reapportionment reform in California, the better to protect West Side reps Henry Waxman and Howard Berman…The Zev Chafets takeout on San Antonio mayor Julian Castro is a wonderfully told tale of the most important Latino pol we’d never heard of.

I’m sorry sir, but your AK-47 has to go in the overhead: The silliest issue of the entire campaign season is the loud objection of GOP wannabe Senator Carly Fiorina to restricting gun sales to people on the anti-terror fly list because it would infringe on their Second Amendment rights, as Joe Mathews makes perfectly clear here.