Vanity Fair: Run, Jerry Brown, Run!

Jerry Brown signs (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Michael Kinsley, writing for Vanity Fair, urges the Democratic party to consider running Governor Jerry Brown as a potential replacement for Hillary Clinton if Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid continues to plummet.

Kinsley calls Brown “intellectually curious,” lauding him for having a “speculative mind.” He admits Brown’s first reign as governor from 1975 to 1983 was typified by Brown’s “playing with ideas,” and left him a figure easily mocked–but then argues that in his “miraculous second round as governor…things turned around completely.”

Kinsley argues that during Brown’s second tenure as governor, the California dream and the state’s economy were reborn–then segues to his chief argument for Brown’s candidacy: Brown’s positions that seemed wacky to Americans during his first reign as governor have become standard thinking among Americans today. Kinsley writes:

He comes across as something fresh and original. All that New Age stuff that seemed so weird when Brown ran for president the first time (in 1976) is still part of his repertoire. But he’d be helped if he ran by the extent to which yoga and brown rice and so on have become part of American culture. Jerry Brown hasn’t gone mainstream (or at least not much), but mainstream has gone Jerry Brown.

Kinsley may be a true believer in Brown now, but that wasn’t always the case. During Brown’s 1992 presidential campaign, he wrote, “Jerry Brown’s campaign technique is to grab onto some issue he’s shown no previous sign of caring about, and then to condemn with self-righteous wrath everyone else who fails to join him immediately in his new-found faith. In Mr. Brown’s way of thinking, you are hopelessly corrupt if you still think as he thought until the day before yesterday.”

Speaking of Brown’s flat tax proposal at the time, Kinsley continued, “In the case of his so-called ”flat tax,” Mr. Brown either doesn’t understand his own proposal or is lying about it or, most probably, both.”

Brown responded to Kinsley’s criticism, according to Maureen Dowd, by calling Kinsley a member of “the media college of cardinals.”

Kinsley addresses the issue of Brown’s advanced age by asserting that the Democrats have no choice; all their candidates are past the age of eligibility for Social Security. Brown would be 78 if elected; Bernie Sanders would be 75; Hillary Clinton would be 69.

He concludes, “And Democrats should stop saying they have no bench before someone starts to believe them.”