Answering A Lie Within 24 Hours

Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown famously once said, “in politics, a lie unanswered becomes truth within 24 hours.”

In The Sacramento Bee this past Sunday April 11, 2010, former Assembly Speaker and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown had an interesting take on the PG&E funded Proposition 16, and let slip a little lie.

Brown, writing in support of Prop 16, said, “Having benefited from the input of the voters during my years as mayor, I can also tell you that California’s voters know a good plan when they see one. They can discern between a well-constructed plan that will work and one that is not well formed or that takes unnecessary risks with their money. And local leaders need the community’s input.”

Willie Brown thinks voters know what they are doing? Pffffftttt.

Only two months ago in a debate with Conservative Pollster Frank Luntz, Brown glibly and cutely mocked the intelligence of voters.  The subject was the California ballot initiative process and Brown called it “a cottage industry with cockamamie ideas.” He used Proposition 13’s backers, Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann as an example of a “cockamamie idea,” and called Proposition 13 “not implementable.”

Luntz disagreed with Brown on this issue and cited the California Democratic party’s domination of the state legislature, leaving California with “no accountability.” “California voters do not feel connected to elected officials,” Luntz said, explaining why voters turn to the ballot initiative process.

Playing the audience, Brown answered back, “I believe in the right to be heard, even if it’s wrong most of the time,” referring to voters. While his glibness got a few chuckles, even Brown’s fans know of his distaste for voters.

It should not surprise or dismay anyone that Willie Brown is a consummate politician. So is his op ed a slip up, a chink in the armor, or just a bit disingenuousness?

So openly shilling for Proposition 16, Brown might want to stick to some of his own thoughts and ideals before he puts his name on an op ed. No newcomer to California politics, Brown may have little regard for voters, but those same voters cost him his Assembly seat through term limits.

Brown’s regard for the intelligence of voters has never been high. “To win [elections] in this country these days,” Brown once said, “you’ve got to campaign down to a thirteen-year-old’s level of mental development.”

Willie Brown’s newfound respect for California voters’ ability “to recognize a good plan when they see one” is nothing more than a filmy veil over a face not meant to be seen by the public.

– Katy Grimes


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