Are the offices of elected officials in America really up for sale? Apparently Meg Whitman believes so. With 48 days left in the auction for the office of Governor of California, billionaire Whitman raised her bid by another $15 million. Her personal total now at $119 million, Queen Meg has set a new all-time record for personal contribution in an American election campaign.
Some people might consider it unhealthy to have a process that allows candidates to contribute without limit to their personal election campaign. Objections asserting that a candidate should be elected based upon their record and policies, not the size of their bank account, are certainly valid. But that’s not the way things work in 21st Century American politics, where corporations are people, facts are optional, and elections are decided by who has the better television ads and sound bites.
For her money, Meg Whitman has assembled a media blitz of attack ads aimed at discrediting her opponent. Attacking both Jerry Brown’s record as mayor of Oakland and governor of California, her campaign has managed to saturate television and radio with an unrelenting barrage of half-truths, distortions, and outright lies.
Fortunately for Meg, lying may be unethical, but it’s not illegal. From her early ad that attempted to illegitimately associate Jerry Brown’s record as mayor with the debacle of misappropriation and graft in Bell, California, to her ridiculously mistitled The Facts: Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, a video ad that was virtually fact-free, to her most recent perversions of truth regarding Brown’s time as governor, Whitman has rivaled her contribution record with a performance destined for the liar’s hall of fame.
In Whitman’s seventh attack ad against Brown, she attempts to defame his position on taxes as governor by showing footage of former president, Bill Clinton, during their contentious 1992 Democratic presidential primary battle. In the video, Clinton asserts that Brown had raised taxes as governor — a claim that Clinton has since refuted. As it turns out, the former president’s statement was based on information presented by Brooks Jackson, of CNN, who now openly admits that his data was in error. The Whitman campaign, to their continuing discredit, was made aware of the issue but chose to retain the ad.
Another current Whitman ad, allegedly reporting the “facts” about Jerry Brown, apparently relies on the same erroneous reports of California taxes under Brown, claiming that he supported $7 billion in increases. The truth is that taxes fell under Brown, from an average 6.89% to 6.56%. The ad also claims that Brown was against Prop-13, which he was — because it artificially fixed rates and set a requirement for a two-thirds majority in both state houses to increase any tax. Brown wasn’t against the tax cut, and in fact had tried to get a cut through the legislature that was blocked by Republicans in an election year tactic. The truth is that Prop-13 was a poorly designed 389 word initiative that amended the State Constitution, drained the budget surplus, gutted education and benefitted business far more than the average Californian.
Unsatisfied with distortions only on Brown’s record on taxation, the Whitman ad is facetiously named, “Job Killer.” The job portion of the video starts with the claim that California’s unemployment rate “nearly doubled to 11%” under Brown. The truth is that it did go over 11% in late 1982, when the national rate had climbed to 10.8% because of the recession. But Whitman’s claim that the rate doubled is pure fiction.
According to Whitman’s own website, the unemployment rate before Brown took office was 7.3%, which would equate to only a 50% increase. And the fact is that unemployment started climbing before Jerry Brown took office, with the state losing 140,000 jobs between 11/74 and 3/75 because of the oil crisis and the end of the Viet Nam war. Official records only go back to 1976, when the rate was at 9.3%, and the reason it was higher when Brown left office, even though the state had 1.9 million new jobs created during his tenure, is because of a nagging recession and a growing population. The truth is that Jerry Brown had the best job record of the State’s past five governors.
Election campaigns being what they are, public offices are effectively sold today, but that doesn’t mean that once aware, voters should allow it to happen. There is no other case in American history where it was so obvious that a candidate was trying to buy an office and would stop at nothing in order to get elected. Meg Whitman has spent millions of her own money to inundate California voters with false information. She believes that her veracity is immaterial so long as she can saturate the media. California voters need to ask themselves if this lack of good character is what they really want in a governor.
Meg Whitman cares as much about the truth as she does the good people of the State of California. If she is able to lie and buy her way into the governor’s office, she will most assuredly fight for her fellow elite and bring them prosperity at the cost of the working people of California. Queen Meg believes in tax cuts for the rich and the outsourcing of jobs. Her dubious plan to address unemployment is nothing more than vintage trickle down, and her plan for education as substantive as her “facts” about Jerry Brown. The people of this state need to send Ms. Whitman back into retirement, because if they don’t, they’ll all be seeing red when the Red Queen is done.