The year was 1975. Jerry Brown was Governor. And the movie “Alice in Wonderland” was all the rage.
Fast forward 35 years later. Jerry Brown wants to be Governor. And the movie “Alice in Wonderland” is all the rage.
Coincidence? I think not.
To peer into a third potential Jerry Brown reign, one only needs to take a trip down the rabbit hole into the fantasy world of Jerry’s Wonderland – where you’ll soon find that what’s up is down, and what’s down is up. It is here that a few comparisons can be drawn between the original tale vs. the tale that is playing out in California today.
The Setting: “The Garden” – which is the central location in the fictional tale – is a place that could easily pass for the State Capitol today. It is where all of the action takes place. It is where kings and queens hold court. It is where Tea Parties are held. And it is a place where all of the characters compete (and I’m quoting directly here) “in a Caucus race which consists of everyone running in a circle with no clear winner.” Ah, yes, this is all starting to sound familiar…
The Cast: In Jerry’s Wonderland, the Media plays the role of the Cheshire Cat – philosophical, mischievous, sometimes on the mark but often missing the point entirely. Like the Cheshire Cat, reporters this go-round seem to be more interested in hemming and hawing, waxing philosophically, and jockeying to see who has the best anecdote about the Jerry Brown of yesteryear. Who cares what Jerry Brown ate for breakfast in 1978 when you interviewed him? Who cares who he dated, or what kind of mat he slept on in his rented apartment a block away from my current one?
We’ve all heard these tales before. Tell us what the man is going to do about the State Budget. That’s what the voters want to hear. But no, a full week after Jerry’s announcement, most reporters are still spinning ‘round as if they’re on the magic Teacup ride. No serious questions asked, no in-depth policy issues covered. Zippo. Zero. Zilch.
Enter the Mad Hatter, the zany figure who hosts what the story calls, “The Mad Tea Party.” Surely I don’t need to explain to the audience what that represents this Election Season. When it comes to the Tea Parties, Jerry’s claims are truly stranger than Lewis Carroll’s and Tim Burton’s fiction combined. You see, in the magically splendid world of Jerry’s Wonderland, Jerry claims to be courting the Tea Party’ers, too! In an L.A. Times article last week Jerry suggested that in his Wonderland, he can bring both the Public Employee Unions and the Tea Party protestors together for one big happy Garden party. (Is this where the magic mushrooms come in?)
Continuing down the bramble-laden path of Jerry’s Wonderland, we meet the Queen of Hearts – an irate, demanding, Supreme Ruler of the Land. She enjoys holding court and forcing all to bow down to her and play her games. Both parties are instructed to shield their eyes in order to avoid even the slightest confrontation with her. There is no question in my mind that the Queen of Hearts represents – you guessed it – the Public Employee Unions.
Last, but certainly not least, is the character at the center of this wacky Wonderland: Jerry Brown himself. Unpredictable, fickle, and flaky, he holds a list of contradictory positions as long as the dark hole Alice tumbled down. There’s the early-1980s Jerry who pledged to have the most open and accountable government on the planet, then sealed his Gubernatorial records from public view for an entire Half-Century.
There’s the conflicted Jerry who once lobbied for clemency on behalf of a pro-life crusader, then fought vigorously to provide MediCal funding to Abortion clinics across the state. Then there’s the 2010 Jerry who’s always considered himself a Media darling, but announced his bid for Governor through an odd “taped” message that didn’t allow for a single Media question. It’s often been said: The more we hear from Jerry, the less sense he makes.
Voters would be wise this November to stay away from the magical potion that reads, “Drink Me” (or in this case, “Vote for Me”). While the nectar will appear to be sweet – perhaps even harmless – it is important to remember it is but a bitter ale that will lead us on the same trip, down the same rabbit hole, to the same Wonderland, where we’ve been before.
It’s time to close the chapter on this fairy tale once and for all.