And the Winner of the Final Brown/Whitman Debate Is. . .

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Tom Brokaw. Man, why can’t this guy run for governor? Taking a break for his documentary gig to moderate the final Brown/Whitman debate, Brokaw outdid both candidates in cutting to the heart of the state’s problems. He asked what Californians can do for California, if anything, and what they thought of polls showing that the state’s voters were “utterly unrealistic” about what can be cut from government spending without affecting services. He asked whether Proposition 13 was a “sacred cow” or a “boulder in the road” to reform. And he wrapped up by wondering if the candidates supported any structural reforms such as major changes to California’s dysfunctional constitution. He didn’t get many straight answers. But he did straighten out Republican Meg Whitman at one point by fact-checking her claim that Brown had caused job losses while governing California in the ’70s. (The national recession was to blame, Brokaw noted; Western states run by Republicans at the time had also lost jobs). It’s nice to find somebody with enough perspective to see that the real story behind this race is the death of the California Dream. Too bad the state’s electoral politics aren’t really set up to discuss how to revive it.

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