Roger L. Simon

Texas Hold 'Em or California Roll: Shootin' with the Right Governor

Well, it now seems that not one but two two-term governors will be running for unprecedented third terms in our two most populous states. What are the odds of that? And what are the odds that your-not-so-humble-servant knows both of them? As it happens, one hundred percent. I never expected to be that well connected (at least in this life) and I’m still trying to figure out how to exploit this, although my encounters with Jerry Brown are now over twenty years old and deep into the land of lost synapses. I met Rick Perry quite a bit more recently, not more than a couple of months ago, when I had the pleasure of going pistol shootin’ with the Texas governor in his hometown of Austin. (The video at the link is fun, if you haven’t seen it. And congrats to Gov. Perry — a PJTV fan — on your primary victory today.)

Of course, Perry is going to be running for a consecutive third term, while Brown has been off doing other things like being Mayor of Oakland and California Attorney General and, intermittently, wannabe zen roshi, etc. Further, Perry looks to be a shoo-in because Texas is in great shape compared to most of the nation now, while Brown is going to have a fight on his hands because California is, in a word, a mess. Some people even say it’s worse than Greece. And we don’t even have the Acropolis. We have to make do with Arianna Huffington’s mansion.

So would I support these guys? Well, I’m easy. You shake my hand, tell a few jokes, slap me on the back and you’ve usually got my vote. In fact, I thought Rick Perry was just a great fellow and if I lived in Texas, I’d certainly support him.

Jerry Brown is another matter. Much as I like Jerry — he’s an original mind and an amusing guy — he’s absolutely the wrong person for the job under the current catastrophic conditions in my home state. Reason: for all his famed Governor Moonbeam exoticism, when push comes to the proverbial shove, Jerry is very much a conventional liberal politician and very much his father’s son. But the days for that kind of approach to solving California’s financial problems are as long gone as the Buffalo Springfield from the Sunset Strip. Or should I say Linda Ronstadt?

Brown is using the failure of “political amateur” Arnold Schwarzenegger as California governor to try to convince voters to stay away from another “political amateur,” former Ebay CEO Meg Whitman. But right now California needs someone who can wield a red pencil with absolute determination — not allowing it out of his or her hand until half the lines in the budget were scratched out — or we really might turn into Greece. If I were a betting man — and sometimes I am — I’d bet California voters will be handing that pencil to Whitman in November.