Press Clips: Charge of the Lite Gov Brigade


Let’s be clear: Prince Gavin Newsom of Marin County is a perfectly fine Lieutenant Governor. He attends and votes on all the boards he’s supposed to. He is an excellent ceremonial speaker. He’s tried to make himself useful by crafting a thoughtful Economic Growth and Competitiveness Agenda for California. And most important, he’s young, healthy and standing by in case something should befall our 73-year-old Gov. Gandalf.

He’s ambitious, sure, but so’s every good politician. He’s a bit wonky, but that counteracts his pretty-boy good looks and hair. He’s got some nasty friend’s-wife-schtupping in his background, but now he’s got a lovely wife and family. All in all, he’s a model Lite Gov.

The problem is not Prince Gavin. The problem is California doesn’t need a Lieutenant Governor. It’s a useless statewide office. Not that it’s a big drag on the state’s budget — just a bit more than $1 million a year and 8.6 full-time equivalent positions.

But as old Chronicler John Wildermuth noted the other day, in capturing the Little Pulitzer for Investigative Punditry, “When was the last time anyone voted for the clerk of the Supreme Court, the surveyor general, the state printer or the railroad commission, all statewide offices until the early 1900s?”

On the other hand, who’s going to propose and push for a constitutional revision doing away with the office of LG? Why bother?

We agree with our friend, the Great And Wise George Skelton, that with his jobs plan Newsom’s “head was exactly in the right place, focused on California’s most important issue: how we can compete with other states and nations in a sophisticated, cutthroat global economy.”

But the office of LG has absolutely no power. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Gavin’s press releases about International Canary Day and Solidarity With Sperm Whales seldom get much coverage. He has managed to raise about $300,000 since winning his office. So some people are betting he’s got a political future. Which he likely does. As long as he stays away from actually governing. Which doesn’t seem to be a problem, as Calbuzz cartoonist Tom Meyer ably demonstrates.


Life in imitation of art: Latest evidence that the quality of political discourse has still not reached rock bottom: a headline that we thought we’d never read and really wish we hadn’t:

“Arianna discusses the debt ceiling deal with Piers Morgan”

This one’s wrong on so many levels we’re not sure where to start, so we’ll just give the final word to Calbuzzer William E. Wallace: “The hack chats with the hacker.”

We were too busy calling the president “a dick”: We’re big fans of media critic Jason Linkins’ exploding head, ad hominem attacks on the Beltway media types, despite his occasional lurch into obscure, or even incomprehensible, references, but the guy went way above and beyond this week with a pair of must-reads about the debt deal.

First came a warm-up rant about the shameful spectacle of the MSM’s injection of false equivalence into the debt story in heretofore unimaginable toxic levels, a concern we’d recently expressed ourselves, with characteristic understatement. Not so for Linkins:

Journalism is about choices. With millions of Americans out of work, the press decided to put all of its labor into creating the Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop. Because journalists had become so inured to being led by the nose by the important people to whom they needed “access,” they abandoned the American people. Their excuse? “Well, no one in Congress is doing anything about unemployment, so what’s to cover?”

Way back when this whole saga started, the GOP’s gambit was, “Give us what we want or we will put the full faith and credit of U.S. Treasury bonds into default.” It shouldn’t have been necessary to point out to the press that this was an utterly insane, from-the-furthest-reaches-of-Mars position to take. After all, the debt ceiling had been raised many, many times before, without any fuss worth mentioning. If you cannot say objectively that threatening to blow up the world’s economy was an extreme position, then the word “objectivity” is meaningless.

But far from taking an immediate stand against the insanity, the press treated the threatened demise of global society as just another interesting point of view among many. It was an exciting tactic, sure to cause waves in the political waters of the Imperial City. Pop some popcorn and let’s see where this takes us! Well, where it’s taken us is “past the brink.” Our political culture has been permanently altered. It has now been deemed an acceptable tactic, in politics, to take hostages and make demands.

Next, so upset by the utter failure of the over-paid press to do its job, Linkins proceeded to do it for them, with a nice little Q&A that honestly explained how the debt deal will actually affect, you know, actual people, but not before totally pantsing Politico for throwing a party at which all the butt-smooching sycophants in Washington could get together at once to compare notes about the inanities they’d been writing for weeks:

Over the past few days, the media has frothed over their horse-race traditions, pleasuring themselves with the question of who “won” the debt ceiling debate. And once they felt they had an adequate answer to that question, they threw a party! Left out of the conversation, as per usual, are ordinary Americans.

Because I doubt that more than a few will make the attempt, I shall hereby try to explain what just happened in simple terms, and then inform all the normal people who are typically left out of the political conversation what life is likely to be like, from here on out.

Calbuzz sez check it out.

Raising Abel: Speaking of heads exploding, we became urgently  concerned about the fate of our pal Jon Fleischman when we heard that Abel Maldonado, the Flash’s personal vision of the anti-Christ, made a big insider’s list of “50 Politicos to Watch.”

Fortunately, soon came word that Flashreport had been named one of California’s top political blogs by the Washpost’s political junkie feature, “The Fix.” Right behind Calbuzz.

In any case, with the easily distracted Fleischman thankfully saved, we’re delighted to send mega-thanks to all our loyal and disloyal readers for your support in pushing us into the top spot. And to all a good night.

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There are 3 comments for this post

  1. avatar tonyseton says:

    Congratulations, though I consider you more than just a blog. Your thoughtful elucidation is based on real journalism, which is vastly different from the loud array of uninformed pedantry that masquerades as worthwhile.

  2. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    Linkins should rest his ink-stained fingers and watch MSNBC. They said exactly the same thing over and over and over. The Nation magazine did too. Though I can’t disagree that the media majority did join the feeding frenzy.

    Politicians to watch doing what? Abel Maldonado? Really? He wasn’t worth watching when he was actually in office. Seeing him on TV following the San Bruno fire was a cringe-worthy experience. At least, as you note, our current Lt. Gov. can read a speech without making you want to reach over and blot the drool off of his lower lip. He also avoids that panicked look Abel was so prone to whenever he spotted a camera. Almost made me feel sorry for the poor putz. Almost.

  3. avatar chuckmcfadden says:

    Congratulations to the Golden Horde of highly paid Calbuzz staffers for scoring a Fix First. I think you should get a little gold statue. OK, a big gold statue.

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