Frank Luntz and Willie Brown debate or entertain?

In the Red Corner was Frank Luntz, political pollster and consultant. And In the Blue Corner, Willie Brown, former Speaker of the California Assembly and Mayor of San Francisco… so said Eric Hogue, moderator for the “No Holds Barred” debate sponsored by Mayor Kevin Johnson’s Sacramentans for Accountability.

Were they brought together to duke it out on political ideology or to entertain the intimate audience at the Crest theater? It was tough to decide. Fortunately Luntz could easily fill in for Leno or Letterman as a late night host. Brown was, as usual, glib, funny and politically charged.

The event was a fundraiser for Mayor Kevin Johnson’s strong mayor initiative. Both Luntz and Brown expressed their support for the initiative with Luntz repeatedly expressing that “the voters have a right to decide,” referring to the recent lawsuit brought by a local labor union representative to remove the initiative from the ballot.

In one of the more poignant moments, Brown explained the recent defeats in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts saying that the “quality of the candidates has as much to do with Democrat defeats.”

Acknowledging that the 2008 presidential election was a textbook example of “quality of the candidate,” Luntz agreed that as much as Obama was a superb public speaker, McCain was not. “Stevie Wonder reads a teleprompter better than McCain,” said Luntz.

Luntz stressed his non-partisan message that accountability is not a Republican or Democrat issue — “accountability is what government is supposed to be.”

Luntz had everyone choking with laughter when he reminded the audience that 2010 is the the 63rd anniversary of the Roswell, New Mexico UFO incident — and also when Al Gore was born. Luntz told about a press conference in which a reporter asked Vice President Gore if he also was an alien since his birthdate coincided with the Roswell incident, and Gore cried, “I am a human being,” pounding his fists on the podium.

Luntz then asked the audience how John Kerry could be a Presidentail candidate when he looks like one of the scary trees in The Wizard of Oz, again cracking up the audience.

Even though he has been sounding more conservative lately with his positions on the public employee unions, Willie Brown shared how he used to work to “create vacancies” in local government so he could make the appointments to fill them. “You scare the shit out of me!” Luntz said as he moved away from Brown.

Brown disagreed with Luntz about letting the voters decide issues citing the “cottage industry” the California initiative process has become. Luntz quickly lashed back enumerating how California’s legislature is and has been dominated by one party, with no accountability.

“I believe in the right to be heard, even though voters are wrong most of the time,” quipped Brown.

-Katy Grimes

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  1. PRI
    PRI Author 5 February, 2010, 19:01

    I’ve always liked Willie. With him, you know what you’ll get: a tough politician in it to get the most for his constituents and the special interests that backed him — paid for by everybody else.

    By contrast, Obama solemnly promised us “Change you can believe in” — but has only given us Bush’s 3rd term.

    Reply this comment
  2. Eric Hogue
    Eric Hogue 5 February, 2010, 20:34

    Katy, it was entertainment at its best … debate, well … you and I know differently. Thanks for the reporting.

    Reply this comment

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