Czar Donaldov is now learning the harsh lesson that California Gov. Jerry Brown experienced the hard way in his 1970s incarnation: There are some problems that press releases can’t solve.
Jerry Brown, the former governor’s kid, set the template for modern executive leadership. When presented with a problem, the correct response is to ignore it and hope it goes away. Kinda like Trump hoping that the Coronavirus doesn’t like warm weather.
Much of the time, that works. Once a CEO, a governor or president validates a problem by looking into it, the press has a story. Ignoring it for underlings to worry about often achieves the desired result: solution or institutional drift. Either way, the boss retains plausible deniability should something blow up.
Jerry Brown spent so much of his time writing press releases that Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” comic strip had a character go to work for Brown as his director of symbolism. The PR approach to governing, which Ronald Reagan did so well, served both of them. Their biographers have noted that they learned media symbolism from each other.
Brown’s superficial style was good enough to make him a serious contender for president in 1976, when he beat Jimmy Carter by more than two-to-one in the Nevada primary, among others.
He easily won a second term in 1978 but failed to learn a lesson taught by no less than United Farm Workers leader César Chávez: Sometimes, you actually have to do something. Chávez marched hundreds of dedicated workers from central California to Sacramento demanding rights for agricultural laborers. César Chávez would not accept symbolism and came away with the California Farmer-Laborer Act.
Then came the medfly, a threat to California’s entire agriculture industry. Brown shilly-shallyed, wanting to try any and everything including press releases but not pesticides. Finally, the critter got out of control and folks all over California awakened on many mornings to find their homes and autos coated with sludge that would make Rachel Carson cringe.
Brown was defeated for U.S. Senate by San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson in 1982.
Donald Trump has gone a long way as a TV entertainer but now with people dying, he hasn’t a clue. You can’t stop a virus with a press release or presidential executive order.
The legendary hypochondriac has gotten one message: Avoid people. He usually has rallies in states scheduling Democratic primaries. Not this week.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recently related having dinner with Trump some years ago. He kept a squeeze bottle of hand sanitizer next to her salad between the two of them. He was so worried after someone came up to him and shook his hand that he could not eat.
So he’s sent Vice-President Pence out as front man against his own personal medfly and has denied any worry that the virus might get to the White House. The Republican Party can retire its elephant mascot and ordain the ostrich.
I wonder if Trump knows that if both he and Pence die, or become otherwise incapacitated and unable to perform their duties, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi becomes the first woman president of the United States.
That may be the Donkeykongs only shot this year. Right now, it looks like instant replay of the old saw that Democrats don’t win elections, Republicans lose them.
So the jackasses are apparently kicking toward Hillary with Hair Plugs.
YAY FOR THE RGJ. Maximum kudos to the Reno Gazette-Journal for exemplary public service journalism for its coverage of Coronavirus issues in the region, a perfect example of why every community needs a major newspaper. They have been kicking some serious ass. I’m a fan.
BEN FRANKLINS’ CRYSTAL BALL: The founding father said he “did not entirely approve of this Constitution at present,” but that “the older I grow, the more I am apt to doubt my own Judgment, and to pay more Respect to the Judgment of others…(Any form of government) “may be a Blessing to the People if well administered and I believe farther that this (Constitution) is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”
Look in the mirror, fellow citizens.
Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 51-year Nevadan, executive producer of Nevada’s annual March 31 César Chávez Day celebration and editor of NevadaLabor.com/ E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.