Legendary Louisiana Governor Earl Long used to offer the following advice to political types: "Don't write anything you can phone. Don't phone anything you can talk. Don't talk anything you can whisper. Don't whisper anything you can smile. Don't smile anything you can nod. Don't nod anything you can wink." Ol' Earl never thought it necessary to add that if you're planning a cynical little political ploy, don't announce it in advance in front of a reporter. He probably never thought anyone stupid enough to do that would be able to get into politics in the first place. Of course, Earl never met OC Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.
From Frank Mickadeit's column in today's Reg:
…a couple of other interesting tidbits came out of my attendance at a Republican lawyers meeting at Chapman Law School last week. Assemblyman Chuck DeVore told the group how even as a member of the minority party in the Legislature, he's trying to be relevant. He's working a bill that would suspend the California Environmental Quality Act for five years for low-income housing, farm-worker housing and urban infill projects. The strategy, he said, is to split the Democrats in the Legislature into two factions: the black and Latino caucuses, which favor the bill because it would reduce housing costs 10-20 percent for constituents, and what he called "the white, urban limousine liberals," who oppose lowering environmental standards. "I'm purposefully eff-ing with them," DeVore said.
Wow, I thought, it is so refreshing to hear a politician be so candid in front of a journalist. Then I went up to him and asked whether his ploy wasn't "just a little cynical" – and he turned even whiter than a limousine liberal. He hadn't realized I was in attendance, even though I had stood right in front of him talking to Spitzer before the meeting started and I swear we made eye contact.
Mickadeit, a generous soul, suggests that maybe DeVore hadn't been able to figure out who the fellow standing in front of him was, since Mickadeit no longer has a beard. It's a shame when even the most benign explanation of an event makes someone seem remarkably dim. Chuck DeVore-- easily fooled by facial hair.
DeVore, memorably described in the pages of the Weekly as "so conservative that his positions scream out for psychological explanation", maintains that his cunning plan to manipulate black and Latino legislators into advancing his agenda is in no way questionable. Regardless of any other consideration, what is clear is that announcing that you're "purposefully eff-ing" with the majority in the state legislature-- whether or not there's a reporter in the room, such a boast is pretty likely to repeated by others at the meeting, and enter the echo chamber of the state's political gossip-- is a good way to doom your bill, and shows just why you're going to remain in the minority.
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Governor Earl Long famously did a stretch in a state mental hospital. Maybe certain other politicians could profit by his example, even if they show no signs of following some of his wisest advice.