Monday, February 16, 2009

Meg Whitman's Losing Bid

Living as I do in California, I'm acutely aware of what the world thinks of Californians. I know that the other 49 states snicker and gossip about the disproportionate amount of attention the media showers on the Golden State. Like jealous siblings, other states begrudge us our successes and rejoice in our failures.

Being the honest guy that I am, I can't say that I really blame them. The taxes are mostly high. The breasts are mostly silicone. And the politicians are mostly, well, strange. Where else but California would voters seat a rich movie actor with no political acumen as governor? When he rode into office on the wave of discontent that flushed out former governor Gray Davis, Arnold Schwartzenegger flexed for the cameras, boasting about how he was going to kick some ass in Sacramento.

Now, saddled with a $42 billion budget gap and the state flat on its financial back, fans aren't so sure they made the right choice. Which happens to be terrific timing, considering that the first announced Republican contender for Schwartzenegger's job went public recently. And Meg Whitman, former CEO of EBay, says she's ready to rock.

I personally have no axe to grind with Whitman. I have real issues with her handlers, however, who seem to be hopelessly out of touch with the voting public.

In the first place, Whitman is a billionaire CEO. Read the paper lately? Have you found any good press about billionaire CEO's in say, the last three years? Corporations are dropping like flies while CEO's earn the wrath of just about everyone for million dollar bonuses -- and this is how they merchandise her?

Strike one.

Another issue dooming Whitman's brand is her stand on gay marriage. Kinda against it, but kinda for it: she likes civil unions, opposes gay marriages, but thinks the gay marriages that have been performed deserve to stay valid. Right. Got it. Her favorite color is plaid, on an issue that could be the most volatile of the coming election. An issue that Democrat Jerry Brown has made no bones about taking to center stage.

Strike two.

Did I mention how vain Californians are? Have you noticed that our governor got elected because he was a movie star? Maybe capped teeth, styled hair and a cinched waistline don't mean anything to you, but on the west coast, they're absolutely essential to getting a choice table at a restaurant -- you think claiming the governor's title is any different? Hey, if Hillary Clinton could undergo a makeover, you'd think that Meg's handlers would package her up a tad more professionally. Think I'm kidding?

Ever watch the Kennedy Nixon debates from the 1960's? Uh huh. Don't tell me that looks don't count.

Strike three. You're out.

Yeah, sure, there's the subject of gender. Meg is female, but that's no big deal. Both California senators are female, so that's no saving grace when she's facing all those other negatives without the campaign having even started.

Like I said, I have no idea if Whitman would make a good governor. I do have a suspicion that judging from her current brand image, she's not really good at selecting handlers. But then, she's Meg Whitman from EBay. Maybe she's using the lowest bidders.


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