Sunday, October 03, 2010

Why the Sacramento Bee is quickly becoming irrelevant

The Sacramento Bee today endorsed Brown for Governor.  The Bee's writers seem to have done much to take everything that Brown offers in this iteration of his public persona as fact but applies the strict scrutiny standard to Whitman.   Here is an condensed version of the Bee's "logic."  I have highlighted some of the best parts of the editorial.  

Whitman is far from a perfect candidate but the Bee's circumlocutions to endorse the perennial candidate Brown, who as one democratic legislator once said to me "will do or say anything to get elected" are an embarrassment to journalism.   

Every contest for governor is crucial, but the stakes couldn't be higher for California during this year's Nov. 2 election. The state's finances, economy, schools and institutions of higher learning all hang in the balance. Brown has spent nearly his entire career as a politician. Whitman is more scripted and efficient. Brown shoots from the hip and the lip. Whitman is a student of what other states are doing to grow business. Brown shows little interest in such scholarship. The attraction of Meg Whitman is that, as an outsider, she isn't yet imprisoned by the culture of low expectations that permeates the Capitol. She exudes a sense of possibility, and in many areas, offers a credible critique of what is wrong with California. Consider how the two candidates stand on the No. 1 issue of the day – the dismal economy, joblessness and the state's chronic fiscal problems. Whitman proposes to freeze regulations and cut taxes, including the state capital gains tax. The former eBay CEO claims this will spur investment in California and grow jobs and state revenues. Whitman slams Brown for a jobs plan that is vague and full of platitudes about "green jobs," a fair critique. But Brown is more realistic than Whitman about what a governor can accomplish, given that California's fortunes are interdependent with the larger national and international economies. (Note here the BEE endorses AB 32 which is an attempt to deal with global warming issues from one state - the Bee's editorial board does not get the irony here.) Government's role, as Brown sees it, is to provide the basic building blocks of commerce – roads, ports, rail, education and job training – and recognize California's unique strengths. Brown sees huge opportunity in making the state a leader in renewable energy and efficiency, partly by cutting regulation and consolidating overlapping permitting agencies. He is also open to reducing or eliminating the sales tax on manufacturing equipment, an unusual position for a Democrat. While we share her passion for reducing state pension obligations, she goes too far in advocating 401(k) plans that would expose state workers to the vagaries of Wall Street.  And unlike in previous stints in office, Brown doesn't seem to have his eye on anything other than governing California. That could well result in a Jerry Brown who is more focused, engaged and independent than we've seen before.
Newspaper editorial endorsements once counted for something.  With the Bee's current deteriorating situation in subscribers and ad revenue (some have quipped it should now be called the Sacramento Brochure),  this kind of nonsense is read by few and listened to by even fewer people.

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