Monday, July 26, 2010

John and Ken Are After Meg Whitman With a Vengenance

Meg Whitman is the Republican nominee for Governor of California against Attorney General Jerry Brown, the once and perhaps future governor.

Meg, the billionaire former head of EBay, bought the Republican nomination with her money, and may spend over $100 million in the general election. Candidates often run to the right or left to secure their parties’ nominations in the highly partisan primaries, and then often veer somewhat to the center for the general election.

Meg Whitman’s strategy apparently was to win the Republican primary, and then court the Latino vote, if not to win it outright, then at least to minimize it somewhat.

As a practical matter, Republicans cannot succeed in the long run in California without Hispanic votes. Both Governor Schwarzenegger and Meg Whitman understand this basic reality.

John and Ken are devoting large chunks of their primetime, 2-5 p.m., KFI airtime damning Meg Whitman. Since they have up to 1 million Southern California listeners as well as those who link on line, their broadcasts can be devastating to those who incur the wrath of John and Ken.

I have certainly heard a fair amount of their anti-Meg excoriations this summer in driving to San Diego and back.

Meg has been talking, and writing, out of both sides of her mouth, which is not unusual in politics, but she’s doing it in two languages, English and Spanish.

As far as John and Ken are concerned, Meg Whitman is saying one thing in English to white voters and something else in Spanish to court the Latino voters. Since one of their hallmark issues is illegal immigration, they will not tolerate her apostasy or hypocrisy.

Their views are simple with no subtlety: no amnesty, support Arizona, and let the illegals leave.

Meg in one May ad described herself as “tough as nails” on illegal immigration, and was opposed to benefits for them.

Her recent Spanish ads claim she’s opposed to California’s anti-immigrant Proposition 187, which was struck down in 1999, and she’s against Arizona’s SB 1070. She wrote an op-ed for a Spanish language newspaper chain in which she seeks “a thoughtful conversation” to solve the problem and find a “fair and practical solution.”

Prop 187 was enacted by the voters in 1994 on an overwhelming 59-41% margin, foreshadowing Arizona’s recent SB 1070. Prop 187 attempted to cut off public funding for education and healthcare for undocumented immigrants. It was clearly unconstitutional. Meg Whitman was not a resident of California at the time of its passage.

She has billboards running in the heavily Hispanic central Valley saying “No a la Proposicion 187 y No a la ley de Arizona.”

Whitman issued a plan during the primary in which she would have state and local police conduct inspections “of workplaces suspected of employing undocumented workers.” She now wants such inspections to take place under federal purview.

That seems to be the change which set John and Ken over the edge.

She has remained opposed to non-documented students attending public colleges in California, but in her Spanish TV ad, she said “Latino kids attending public schools in California today will be tomorrow’s doctors, engineers, businessmen and teachers. I want them to have the opportunity to go as far in life as their God-given talent will take them.” But then in the nuanced language of a lawyer, which she is not, she claims in English that this precept will only apply to legal immigrants, and that the Latinos will understand this distinction.

The Spanish op-ed stated that no distinction existed between her position and that of Jerry Brown. That is not true, as the former Governor quickly proclaimed. He clearly favors a path to citizenship, which John and Ken call “Amnesty.” She currently opposes amnesty, but believes some undocumented immigrants should have the opportunity to apply as guest workers.

Governor Schwarzenegger may be a disappointment, but he’s still a lot better than Governor Gray Davis. Even if Meg Whitman is the second coming of Schwarzenegger, that’s still better than Jerry Brown as the second coming of Jerry Brown.

Jerry Brown has been unable, or unwilling, to raise substantial campaign funds, so he’s depending upon the unions, especially the public employee unions, to fund anti-Whitman ads. He is beholden to them if he wins. In the mean time, he admits he has no plan to resolve California’s problems.

Do John and Ken really believe Jerry Brown will be better for California?

The flap over immigration is an unfortunate distraction. Her plank should simply echo Bill Clinton's 1992 credo: "It's the economy, stupid." All voters can respond to that in California today. We do not need to exacerbate racial polarities.

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