PJ Media

Whore-Gate: Who's in Bed With Jerry Brown?

There is a story, probably apocryphal, often told about Winston Churchill. It’s the one in which he’s in conversation with an aristocratic woman, to whom he makes a proposal. “Madam,” he says, “would you sleep with me for five million pounds?”

“I suppose I would,” says the woman. “We would have to discuss the terms, of course.”

“Would you sleep with me for five pounds?” asks Churchill.

The woman is insulted. “What kind of woman do you think I am?” she asks.

“We’ve already established that,” Churchill says. “Now we’re haggling about the price.”

Apocryphal or not, the story illustrates a common human foible: For many people, perhaps most people, there are few deeds so repugnant as to preclude their consideration given the promise of sufficient reward. Everyone, as the saying goes, has his price.

If that’s the case, are we all not whores?

“Tut, tut, Dunphy,” you say. “Strong language there.”

Maybe so, but the word “whore” has been much in the news lately here in California, owing to an off-color remark made by someone on gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown’s staff and inadvertently captured for posterity on voicemail. Ah, the blessings of modern communication technology. It allows a candidate to reach out and grub for endorsements from anywhere, and if the target of said grubbing isn’t around to answer the phone or perhaps is screening his calls and is not in the mood to talk politics, the candidate can leave his rambling and incoherent appeal on voicemail in the hope that the grubee will call back with the good news the candidate hopes to hear.

But those blessings are mixed, aren’t they. The candidate must master the machinery lest the machinery master him. He must learn to terminate the call before engaging in chitchat with his retinue, especially if a member of that retinue is in the habit of referring to the candidate’s rival as a whore.

One can imagine the scene in the Brown campaign office. Brown makes the call to Scott Rate, a member of the board of directors for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the labor union that represents rank-and-file LAPD officers. (Full disclosure: I am a longtime member of the LAPPL.) Brown gets Rate’s voicemail and leaves a message making a play for the League’s endorsement, demeaning the head of another law enforcement association in the process. Brown concludes the call, or rather thinks he does, and then goes on to discuss Meg Whitman’s position on law enforcement pensions.

“She’s a whore,” says someone in the room, referring to Whitman’s agreement to exempt public safety personnel from proposed changes to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

And you know the rest. As soon as the recording was released — about a month after the call was made — the newspapers and airwaves were filled with the feigned outrage of people who pretend they’ve never said anything just as bad or even worse about someone of whom they disapprove.

Though I would never consider voting for Brown (except, say, for five million pounds), I won’t join those pretending to be offended by the whore remark. What does offend me is the fact that the LAPPL even considered endorsing Jerry Brown in the first place. It’s not as though we haven’t seen this show before. There are abundant reasons why someone of a conservative bent would shudder at the thought of Brown’s return to the governorship of California, but speaking as a police officer I’ll address only one: judges.

Recall that it was Governor Jerry Brown who in 1977 appointed Rose Bird as chief justice of the California Supreme Court. In her time on the court she voted to overturn every one of the 64 death penalty cases that came before her, prevailing with a majority in 61 of those cases. So exasperated were the voters of California at her refusal to implement the law as enacted that she was ousted by a 2-1 margin when she stood in a reconfirmation election in 1987. (Two other liberal justices, Joseph Grodin and Cruz Reynoso, were given the old heave-ho along with Bird.)

One can only imagine the sort of judges a Governor Brown version 2.0 might inflict on California. Whatever faults Meg Whitman might have from a conservative perspective, it’s safe to say she won’t be scouring the law schools and the plaintiffs’ bar looking to throw a black robe around the next Rose Bird. If Brown were to win, is “Justice Gloria Allred” so completely beyond imagining?

For those of you who might assume that the Los Angeles Police Protective League is always in the bag for conservative candidates, would that it were so. It is one of the occasional frustrations of membership that I see League endorsements handed out to liberal candidates for state office, and this year is no exception. The League has made endorsements in 39 races for the state assembly, with 28 of them going to Democrats. In the state senate the figure is even more startling: the League has endorsed eleven Democrats and not a single Republican. (Interestingly, the League’s “Membership Voter Guide” omits all references to party affiliation.)

League officers explain this disparity by acknowledging the simple fact that California is run by Democrats and that the League’s endorsement is a bargaining chip to be used in ways that will benefit its members. Perhaps this is so, but an endorsement from the League should not necessarily be assumed to reflect how a majority of LAPD officers will vote. But when it came to this year’s governor’s race the League’s choice was clear. The League solicited input from the membership before making its decision, and nine out of ten members who responded favored Meg Whitman. Had the League not endorsed her it would have faced an open rebellion from its members.

And for those who, like that unnamed and uncouth Brown staffer, feel that Meg Whitman has prostituted herself on the pension issue so as to secure the League’s endorsement, it’s important to point out that LAPD officers do not participate in California’s statewide pension system. No matter who wins the governorship, he or she will have no impact on the solvency of L.A.’s pension funds.

It’s also interesting to note that while the Whore-gate story got big play for a few days, it soon lost its prominence in the news cycle. Would it have been as quickly relegated to the back pages had it been a Republican using identical language about a female Democrat? You already know the answer to that question.

The election is still three weeks away, plenty of time for more October surprises. NOW has already jumped in bed with Jerry, endorsing him only hours after Whore-gate erupted. Maybe Gloria Allred will trot out another teary-eyed former member the Whitman domestic staff. If she does, you can smirk all you like. But whatever you do, don’t call her a whore.