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Welcoming Back Governor Jerry Brown

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As I watched today’s Inauguration of California’s 39th Governor, I remembered the contrast of covering Governor’s Schwarzenegger’s Inaugural Ceremony at Memorial Auditorium four years ago.  Today’s event was markedly less formal, less glitzy with less inspiring verbiage, but more about brass tacks and bare bones.  The clear message: it’s time to get down to business. 

Another difference: unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown does not come across as a big personality.  Some believe that quality is necessary to be a real leader.   However, Brown has chosen to lead by example in the past…and that appears to be his continuing M.O.  More obvious, instead of a polished presentation, his Inaugural speech at times came across as halting.  I’ve noticed that at press conferences too.  It seems to reflect his thoughtful personality, which often works against showmanship.  Whether that works well enough to rally the troops before this bloody budget battle – we’ll have to wait and see.

Interestingly, what the newly minted Governor Brown mentioned in his Inaugural speech in some ways echoed former Governor Schwarzenegger’s grand ideas as he was sworn into office (twice).  Remember, Governor Schwarzenegger wanted to “blow up the boxes” and aimed to create a “post-partisan” California?  Neither came to pass.  However the campaign promise by Jerry Brown is that as a political insider he can actually  achieve the goals he’s set.  Instead of being a professional politician, he comes across (and is carefully honing the image) of a political professional.  The idea is that gives him a better chance (though clearly no guarantee) of actually finding solutions to this state’s problems. 

A few key unanswered questions: is the “system” too broken to be fixed?  Will Governor Brown be able to use his close ties with unions to work out a way to “break the barriers”, as he put it, and effect real change?  Can he reasonably expect the citizens to be “loyal” to California, and what’s in the state’s best interest, instead of their own self-interest? 

Now to some of the highlights of  his speech:

“It is not just my family, but every Californian is heir to some form of powerful tradition, some history of overcoming challenges much more daunting than those we face today…”

“This is a time to honestly assess our financial condition and make the tough choices.”

“At this stage of my life, I did not come here to embrace delay and denial.”

“Perhaps this is why the public holds the state government in low esteem…without the truth of the people, politics degenerates into mere spectacle and democracy declines, leaving demagoguery and cynicism to fill the void.”

Asking of the citizens a “..devotion to California above and beyond narrow perspectives…”… the new Governor then gave this final rallying cry:

“California, here I come. Right back where I started from!”

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