Dear Jerry,

Please, please shut up before you screw this whole thing up.

You may not realize it, but you enter the race for governor – by the way, glad to see that you’re in the race and campaigning full-speed – with San Francisco Bay-sized reservoirs of good will. This feeling is present of people of both parties (conservative Republicans remember your frugality), and is particularly strong among Californians who remember you or have parents or grandparents who remember you and your father fondly.

We media types also are rooting you, fervently if (mostly) silently. Put simply, you are a gift from the Buddha. You’re interesting and irreverent. And, because your career is older than most of our lives, you give us a reason to investigate and revisit all sorts of interesting stories in the political history of state. Since the political present in the state is the killer combination of boring and depressing, you’re the one political figure keeping California reporters from giving up and going into PR.

And you’re a way better story than the Pushy Plutocrat you’re running against. You seem to like us reporter types, or at least tolerate us somewhat. She looks at us like she can’t figure out whether to ignore us because we’re increasingly irrelevant or whether to shove us out of her way because we’re a threat. Worse, she’s incapable of saying anything interesting. If the people of California are so cruel as to put her in the governor’s office for four years, all the remaining news bureaus in the Capitol will have to close.

Which brings me to this Goebbels’ comparison thing.

Now, it’s great that you say crazy things sometimes. I’m all for that. But Nazi comparisons are, shall we say, problematic.

You’re entitled to make a big mistake once in a while, but it’s how you handled it once you made it that bothers me. Once the Goebbels comment was reported, you should have immediately issued the mother of all apologies and left it at that. Instead, you delayed apologizing and have kept on talking about it. Just this morning, you offered a long radio explanation of how the comment was off-the-record, not mudslinging, etc.

Save it. Talking about this only prolongs the subject.

It’d be much better to focus on saying provocative but less politically damaging things about other subjects. I’d love to hear more from Jerry Brown, futurist. Can we balance the budget if the legislature is required to meditate more? Is there a way to take human fat from the obese and convert it to fuel? Should California send its undocumented immigrants to colonize one of Jupiter’s moons? That’s the sort of good, positive, future-oriented crazy talk that we expect from you.

And you might delegate personal attacks for a while-they tend to boomerang on the attacker. I know you hate consultants, but you might think of employing one of them for the very narrow task of thinking up nasty things to say about Meg every day.

Just a little more discipline, a little more delegating, and you and I can spend your remaining years making beautiful news together.

Yours for 50 years or until death, whichever comes later,

Joe Mathews