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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.

Why Carly and eMeg Aren’t Like Thelma and Louise

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

This just in – GOP admits women: Barring a political miracle, around 8:01 p.m. next Tuesday, Meg Whitman will be declared the California Republican party’s nominee for governor. Not long after, it appears today,  Carly Fiorina will win the GOP slot in the Senate race against Barbara Boxer.

It will be an historic evening, if all goes according to form, as the two uber rich  former Silicon Valley executives become the first Republican women ever nominated for either of the two offices, let alone performing the feat in the same election, factoids confirmed by state party spokeshuman Mark Standriff.

In a year when Sarah Palin is crisscrossing the country, calling for the election of GOP “Mama Grizzlies,” the eMeg-Carly narrative will no doubt prove as irresistible to the national media as the “Thelma and Louise” storyline did back in 1992, when Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer pulled off a similar historic trick by simultaneously winning election to the U.S. Senate in what was then hyped as “the year of the woman.”

It was our late, great colleague Susan Yoachum who memorably pinned the movie moniker on Babs and DiFi, but before the brilliant Beltway Wizards latch onto such a narrative line with Carly and Meg, Calbuzz feels duty bound to quash any such non-analogous comparison to what Herb Caen once dubbed “Bitch Cassidy and the Sundress Kid.”

Two working-class women seeking to break away? Not. Strength through sisterhood? No friggin’ way. Feminist rage? C’mon.

Just one example knocks it down: “I won’t let California fail”  – eMeg’s hubris-infected assertion — just doesn’t have the power of Louise’s famous “You get what you settle for.”

Even Ridley Scott and Callie Khouri couldn’t turn these two wealthy, privileged, and uptight business execs into a pair of gun-totin’ road-runnin’ outlaw fempals. They may wind up flying off a cliff, but even if they do, they’ll land softly on their big fat bank accounts and their elitist lives.

Whitman and Fiorina have pandered and slummed, lurched and lunged so far to the right to win their party’s favor, that the big action for them from June to November will be trying to convince independents, moderates, women and Latinos that they didn’t really mean all those knuckle-dragging statements they made in order to win the primaries.

As the Schnur Turns: Politics writers up and down California were weeping, wailing, tearing their hair and rending their garments Tuesday after word emerged that Gov. Arnold Schwartzmuscle has named our friend Dan Schnur to finish the seven months remaining in Ross Johnson’s term as chairman of the Fair Political Practices Commission.

“Where will we go for a clever quote,” one reporter wondered. Whined another: “Who can I call on deadline who will say what I want to say myself but can’t unless it comes from a source’s mouth?”A third cried out: “But I don’t know any other Republicans!”

Schnur, former media adviser and spinner for John McCain, Pete Wilson and others, has worked to put his partisan past behind him for several years as a lecturer at UC Berkeley and, most recently, as head of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.

Not Dan Schnur

Not Dan Schnur

As chairman of the FPPC, Schnur will oversee the agency that enforces state campaign finance and campaign disclosure laws. He’ll fill out the term of former state senator Johnson, who stepped down for health reasons, and plans to return to USC in January.

Schnur said his partisan past will be no more of an impediment than it was for Johnson or former Chairwoman Karen Getman, a Democratic campaign lawyer who served under Gray Davis. “Both did an excellent job of setting aside their personal political leanings,” he said.

Yo, Dan! We’re still waiting for the punch line.

We need to talk: Calbuzzers who fondly remember Al and Tipper snogging over breakfast in the Dunster House dining hall back in the day (this just in: he did inhale) couldn’t help but get a little misty Tuesday at word that ex-vice president and former Second Lady Gore are breaking up.

Even those who don’t know the couple or,  for that matter, never really gave them much thought, felt a pang of rainy day sadness  as they processed the news that the Gores’ 40-year, kissy poo marriage was outlasted by the Clintons, fercrineoutloud.

While wits like Andy Borowitz set about thinking up fake N.Y. Post headlines for the split – “Global Cooling!” (h/t Jim Bettinger) – more gimlet-eyed types at L.A. Biz Observed quickly turned their focus to more bottom line matters:

Now that Al and Tipper have announced plans to separate, they’ll have to deal with their $8.8 million Montecito home that was purchased a couple of months ago. It has an ocean view on 1 1/2 acres with a swimming pool, five bedrooms, nine bathrooms, six fireplaces, a family room, wine cellar and spa. Montecito, of course, is quite the spot for the rich and famous: Oprah Winfrey, Michael Douglas, and the golfer Fred Couples, among many others.

Talk about your inconvenient truth.

Head Fake of the Day: After sitting happily on the sidelines while Republicans Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner fire at one another, Democrat Jerry Brown slapped together a cheesy 30-second spot decrying all the money being spent on negativity while Sacramento is still broken. Calbuzz tried to get Brown Boys Glazer and Clifford to say how much actual TV air time this sad little puppy will see. No comment, basically. So we figure it’s nothing but a web ad that will have no effect on the race for governor. If you want to see it, here’s the link. If they decide to put it on television, we’ll take it seriously. They did manage to bamboozle the online ops at the SF Chronicle, LA Times and Sac Bee into declaring it Brown’s first TV ad, before they caught on that it was just a head fake. (The boys over at Calitics gave it the back of their hand, too.)

Hounding Fox: Hey Joel — saying an opinion poll “was correct” because it reported numbers three weeks ago that happen to be in the ballpark as those found today is a little like saying that the Giants beat the Dodgers because they led 1-0 in the first inning. As the cliche goes, polls are snapshots in time, and we’ll stand by our snarky comments about yours.