By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
And so, on a balmy Saturday, Commie Mom and I got in her Prius and drove quite old and slowly to the Huntington Beach Machinists Hall to watch Phil Angelides in the gubernatorial debate.
Am I still talking? Oh, sweet Jesus, shut me up.
Would it surprise you to know Commie Mom was bad at the party? That even surrounded by fellow Democrats, she got nasty and eye-rolly and a little bit stompy, because, damn it, they weren't pure enough for her?
That's right: Mike Lawson, the new exec director of the OCDP, had the temerity to want to enjoy the Dodgers playoff game before the debate started. "We should be watching C-Span!" Commie Mom demanded. "We don't have cable here," they explained.
So Commie Mom walked around, a little bit miffed, and then explained to a couple of women about what had put her off sports, then and forever. When Reagan and Gorbachev were preparing to sign a no-nukes treaty, the stations showing the Sunday football game cut away to Reykjavik—and then got thousands of complaints from Coors-pounding knuckleheads. And so anybody who likes sports, including, presumably, her eldest and best-loved (and only) daughter, is an unmitigated asshole.
After she told the story, the woman next to her joked, "But who was playing?" And Commie Mom got up from the table and marched away, a rod in her spine and an ever-ready scowl on her puss.
Ladies and gentlemen, let the debate begin!
* * *
For those of you who didn't watch it—and that would be all of you, Governor Schwarzenegger insisting he would participate only if the debate was held on a Saturday, opposite the Dodger playoffs and some college foosball too—it was a bloody mess. At the beginning, moderator Stan Statham—who was only a Republican legislator for 18 years—said there would be no opening statements and no time limits, just "a conversation" with questions from real live voters! The governor immediately launched into an opening statement, and so was countered with one from Angelides. Statham scolded Angelides. He went on to interrupt Angelides—"Thank you, Treasurer"—a minimum of nine times, but interrupted the governor only twice, both times when he had been rambling in circles for over four minutes each. Statham also held his finger to his earpiece and said, when the two were sparring over college education, that the debate's "focus group" of "real, undecided voters" was "bored," and wanted them to "change the topic."
Seriously? Debates are now being dictated in real time by people who care so little about government they don't even know who they're voting for?
Clusterfuck doesn't even begin to describe it.
* * *
Listen: there are actually some things about Schwarzenegger I respect. I like his deal making, I think he's a masterful triangulator, he does work with Democrats (to the howls of the GOP, who don't seem to get he's the governor of the whole state, not just Orange County) and I like that he actually flip-flops instead of staying the course when he has his ass handed to him by nurses, and firemen, and parents of retarded children, and even the state's puppy owners. "Adapt to win," as GOP head Ken Mehlman kept repeating on the Sunday talk shows when "stay the course" became too mired in chaos and obvious defeat.
But in this debate, Schwarzenegger looked sweaty and sounded like an idiot. (His one good line, while being harangued by an aggressive Angelides, was that he felt like he was at dinner with "Uncle Teddy." Angelides murmured back with delight, "If only my grandmother could hear me being compared to a Kennedy!")
Angelides looked dorky and sounded like a smart, funny, energetic Democrat—when he wasn't being cut off by the dastardly Statham.
Thank you, Treasurer.
* * *
A lot of people are comparing Angelides' campaign to the disastrous one run by Kathleen Brown (sister of Jerry, daughter of Pat) in 1994. In fact, I've made the comparison myself. But what people are forgetting is that 1994 was a Republican year. Newt Gingrich, the Contract, and all of these things. 2006 is shaping up just a little bit different.
If a Republican heads to the polls this year, it will be despite Denny Hastert. It will be despite the president. It will be despite the debacle in Iraql, and Katrina, and Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoffand Tom DeLay.
It will be despite Mark Foley heading up the Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children.
What I'm saying is, Republicans won't be heading to the polls this year.
So Angelides needs to gear up, get some damn ads on the air and literature on the streets, and get some Democrats to vote for him.
They'll be the ones turning out with glee.
* * *
After getting rid of my beloved mother, I headed to Azteca to hang out with Paul Lucas (Dem for Assembly in the 68th) and Ken Maddox (former GOP Assemblyman in the same). Since neither of them showed, I would have headed home, but the bartender was awfully cute. It was his last night there, he said, after an eight-year stint. Surely I would have remembered meeting this handsome man before?