Public Nuisance

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The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Monday, October 07, 2002
 
I caught most of the first California Gubernatorial debate today. I would rate it as having no clear winner. Simon was better than might have been expected, given his lack of political experience. He was forceful and did a good job of answering the questions he wanted to answer, rather than those actually asked, without being overly obvious about it.

On substance he was less impressive, not that that usually matters in these events. When asked about solving traffic congestion, he spoke only of building more freeways. The problem is that that never solves traffic problems. When you build freeways and reduce the amount of time to get from a suburb to a main employment center, the result is consistently creation of new and more distant suburban sprawl. On gun control, he announced that he would have vetoed several existing gun laws, but doesn't intend to repeal them and thinks that they should be more strictly enforced.

Davis had a few struggles with his tongue, notably boasting that his administration reduced the number of 'insured children'. He seemed to be aiming for self-deprecating humor when he spoke of going on Leno, but only hit strange. Davis, like Simon, ducked a question on how he will handle next year's budget, which, in the absence of an unexpectedly strong recovery, will probably require either a tax increase or heavy cuts in popular programs.

Simon tried several times to attack Davis for receiving questionable contributions; Davis aimed several shots at Simon associating him with Enron and other businesses involved in gouging California during last years energy crisis. Neither seemed to have new info or score sharp hits. Davis found multiple opportunities to mention that he is a Vietnam veteran, while Simon liked to remind us of his numerous children and siblings.

Since Davis continues to have a solid lead, the lack of any major edge in the debate probably goes to his overall advantage. I remain confident that he will win by a hefty margin.



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