Jerry Brown Creates a New Industry

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Jerry Brown has a mixed record when it comes to business policy. But he has definitely created a new industry all by himself.
It’s the Suck-Up-to-Jerry-Brown Retrospective.

That’s right. America’s media – and indeed, the international outlets as well – have been producing, at a rate of each least one a day, a piece looking back at Jerry Brown’s long career in California. These pieces are almost always positive.

And we haven’t really gotten to the deluge yet. He has another seven weeks before he leaves office.

And since he’s staying close to Sacramento—he’ll be in Colusa, about an hour away—reporters will be able to keep doing remembrances and retrospectives even after he’s left office.

I’m not a fan of Brown or these retrospectives. I won’t get into the details now, but I’ll be providing more detailed assessments of his record – call them counter-retrospectives—in the weeks ahead in this space.

But give the governor his due. No one can beat his public relations or the fawning nature of his media coverage. And he has the advantage of being a cautious and steady soul in a world gone mad.

And it’s quite a trick for a governor to soak up so much positive coverage as he leaves California with a badly damaging housing crisis and enormous unaddressed challenges in education, health care, and infrastructure.

Most of all, I admire the 80-year-old governor’s dexterity. How does he complete all these victory laps without tripping over any of the Californians sleeping in the streets?

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