Saving Cali: How Jerry Brown ‘quietly pulled’ the state ‘back from the brink’

Lovely, thoughtful & colourful piece in Newsweek this week on Jerry Brown. It’s called:

Saving Cali: How Jerry Brown quietly pulled California back from the brink

Brown, elected Governor of California in 2011 is well positioned to discuss primaries.

Not only has he governed (1975-83), lost, rewon (2011) the US’ most populous state (twice the population of my native land). He served as its Attorney General, the mayor of massive Oakland and campaigned thrice for the presidential nomination, persisting in Democratic primaries in 1976, 1980 & 1992.

He also was a Jesuit, whose “cloistered days are long gone,” yet he spent time foraying into Buddhism & Mother Theresa’s India, more.

He comes across as measured, honest, experienced and ambitious… and marked to some extent by age (who isn’t?).

He doesn’t mix words.

“Beyond the ursine sentry,” writes Nazaryan, “is a waiting room, where an appropriately sunny aide invites me inside to meet the man many thought would have been the perfect Democratic presidential candidate for 2016: California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., or, in keeping with the Golden State’s famous informality, Jerry.”

With loving precision, Nazaryan describes his looks:

Jerry Brown is the kind of 78-year-old you fear might run the mile faster than you do. Not that he has escaped time’s relentless steamrolling any more than the rest of us: He is bald now, the ebony mane he sported on the cover of Newsweek in 1979 (with then-girlfriend Linda Ronstadt at his side) reduced to a low gray crescent. A hillock of smooth skin on his nose is evidence of plastic surgery that followed the removal of a cancerous growth. There was another such growth on his ear,

In perhaps the most billowing endorsment (& frankly, where I learned something I didn’t know from where I live):

“Brown’s intellectual affinity for austerity has helped him pull the state out of a fiscal canyon about $27 billion deep.”

So why didn’t he run? Ironically (given the median age of Clinton & Sanders), one:

“If Jerry were even 10 years younger, he would’ve been on everybody’s list.”

To whit on Sanders vs Brown, Nazaryan writes: “While the unkempt socialist has the grumpy demeanor of a South Florida retiree wondering who forgot to flush the poolside bathroom, Brown is both physically fit and mentally astute, fighting off senescence with regular trips to the gym.”

Brown on Trump:

“pretty wild…”

Brown on Clinton:

“a very powerful force” who “fills up a lot of the room for the Democratic primary.”

Which Nazaryan sharply turns: “That sounds less like an endorsement than a concession.”

There are reasons, of course, reasons which run deep. Yet it’s not often we se reason mixed with colour in political writing.

Read the full piece, Saving Cali: How Jerry Brown quietly pulled California back from the brink.

Comments? Let me know. Or tweet @JoshDavidson.

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