March 25, 2011
Jerry Brown shifted into full Zen mode this week, offering increasingly cryptic commentary amid a political atmosphere that grows ever more cloudy and gray.
As nicely illustrated by Calbuzz meteorological doodler Tom Meyer today, the cold front arising from long-stalled talks over the Capitol’s budget mess has built up a mass of cumulonimbus thunderheads that threaten at any moment to erupt into a tempestuous political storm.
Press corps forecasters were hampered in their task of wringing clarity out of a muddy situation by contending reports offered by the Field and PPIC* polls, the Doppler radar twins of California political augury. (We refer you to a) our post-graduate dissertation on the high priest polling methodologies that generally account for some of the differences between the Two Marks and b) the secular humanist explanation offered Thursday by Joe Garafoli: “Confused? Get in line”).
Far more than clashing public opinion surveys, however, it was a series of odd and oblique public utterances by Gandalf himself that blew a thick layer of mystifying mist over the political high pressure area (think we’ve tortured the weather metaphor enough yet? -ed.). Brown suddenly transformed his earlier Catholic rhetoric about the budget fight into a flurry of widely-reported Buddha-like pronouncements, which offered precious little enlightenment about what was going on with the budget in the here and now, let alone what would happen in the next moment.
In a brave effort to end the epidemic of head scratching that followed Governor Gautama’s pronouncements, Calbuzz conducted its own unscientific polling, the better to capture a snapshot in time of what ordinary Californians think about whatever the hell it is Krusty’s been talking about the last couple days. Among the key results:
1-“Whichever way I look, I see bears in the forest.”
Four of 10 of those surveyed (40%) believe that Brown actually meant to say that he sees “bears shit in the woods” wherever he looks, while nearly one-third (32%) agree with the NRA argument that his statement proves there are way too many bears, and one-in-five (20%) back the Sierra Club position that he should not be walking in the woods without filing an EIR.
2-“We’ll know the deadline when we’ve passed it.”
Voters polled were evenly divided about the meaning of this gubernatorial comment. One-third (33%) believe he saw a “teaching moment” opportunity to educate the public about the illusory nature of time; one-third (33%) felt he was referencing the ultimately subjective nature of reality, and one-third (33%) said it was likely the first time Brown had ever used the word “deadline” and clearly had no idea what it meant.
3- “I can confirm I am not unconsidering anything that I ought to consider.”
A large plurality of Californians (49%) told our researchers that Brown has quickly tired of serving as governor and is auditioning to be the press spokesman for Meg Whitman’s next campaign. Nearly as many (48%) said that the governor was spiritually channeling Donald (“there are things that we know, there are known unknowns”) Rumsfeld, while a tiny minority (3%) felt he was just being plain inconsiderate.
4 “There is not as yet a clear delineation as to what will seal the deal. We’re still waiting for what I’d call a term sheet. What’s the bedrock of what Republicans need to put this before the people?”
Brown’s uncharacteristic use of business world phrases like “term sheet” and “seal the deal” convinced six in ten (60%) registered non-voters that he had stayed up too late trying to plow through one of wife Anne Gust’s old Management by Objective handbooks, while three in ten (30%) unregistered voters felt “very strongly” that he’d been spending way too much time with the “The Dictionary of Cliches”; the remainder (10%) of non-registered non-voters said the governor was quoting Dr. Irwin Corey.
5-”There’s a sense on the part of some that they’re going to come up with something good…There are positive vibes.”
A slight majority (51%) among those surveyed believe that Brown believes it is still 1976 and was feeling “groovy” when he made his remark to reporters, while the rest were divided evenly between those (44.5%) who said he’d been told there was going to be a Beach Boys concert in Capitol Park and those (44.5%) who’d heard that Jacques Barzaghi will soon be joining the administration.
The Calbuzz survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 179%.
PS: The famous bear reference we think Jerry may have been trying to evoke was from the anti-Soviet 1984 Hal Riney ad for Ronald Reagan that began, “There is a bear in the woods.”
* What PPIC poll actually shows:
There was a lot of breathless reporting about the PPIC finding that shows support for Brown’s proposal to hold a special election on tax extensions dipping to a mere 51% among likely voters, from 66% in January.
But if anyone explained what was behind the shift, we missed it.
Here’s what happened: there was a relentless, two-month partisan campaign against Brown’s idea and it worked; the move against the idea was double among Republicans what it was among voters overall.
With anti-tax jihadist Grover of Norquist, radio clowns John and Ken, Howard Jarvis Wannabe Jon Coupal and GOP gunslinger Jon Fleischman screaming their lungs out against the idea of putting a tax-extension measure on the ballot, lo and behold, Republican voters (and some independents who lean Republican) responded to the call.
While the net drop in support for placing a tax measure on the ballot was -7% among Democrats and -23% among independents (as self-identified by PPIC), the net drop in support was a massive -41% among Republican likely voters.
To read entire column, click here.