Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 – 12:00 am

America’s political executives – presidents, governors and big city mayors – are often judged by how they respond to unanticipated crises.

Thus, then-President George W. Bush’s popularity soared after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the nation, then plummeted four years later after an erratic response to deadly Hurricane Katrina.

Closer to home, Gray Davis was recalled from the governorship in 2003, less than a year after winning a second term, due to his mishandling of budget and energy crises.

Jerry Brown knows the syndrome well.

He had two major crises during his first stint as governor 30-plus years ago, a severe drought early in his governorship and an invasion of Mediterranean fruit flies near the end.

Brown reacted quickly and suffered no political damage from the first, but botched the second, initially declaring that he would not order aerial spraying to kill Medflies, which threatened the fruit industry, then reversing himself after hitting stiff legislative opposition.

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