Meg Whitman, Gubernatorial Candidate (Updated)

The LA Times ran article yesterday on Meg Whitman, the latest California gubernatorial candidate for the 2010 race. The article depicts her as befuddled unsteady.

In a wide-ranging interview, the first-time Republican candidate’s demeanor vacillated between that of a confident, take-charge chief executive officer delivering a PowerPoint presentation to that of an ill-at-ease novice who has studied stacks of policy binders, but has yet to master the art of political maneuvering.

“I don’t know the answer to that question,” Whitman responded when asked her stand on school vouchers, a perennial issue of importance to the conservatives who dominate her party’s primary.

She also had wishy-washy nuanced opinions on tax increases (she supports Pete Wilson’s decision to do so, but would not do the same now), proposition 8 (voted for the ban, but existing marriages should be left intact), illegal immigration (would have opposed proposition 187, but believes hospitals, local law enforcement, and schools maybe schools should have to report illegal aliens to federal authorities), and offshore drilling (wouldn’t usually support it, but does in the current economic climate).

She expressed a similar thought with respect to the battle over California’s vehicle emissions standards:

Whitman also called herself a champion of the environment. But she voiced qualms about California’s efforts against global warming, mainly the attempt under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to force car makers to adopt emission standards tougher than the federal government’s.

“I would have said, ‘Hey listen, let’s keep one standard for the country as a whole today; if the economy gets better then let’s give those rights to states,’ ” she said.

In all, the article suggested a kind of intellectual inconsistency, which should, perhaps, be expected from a moderate Republican running in a primary election likely to be dominated by the conservative base. Whitman just seems to be relatively bad at spinning the inconsistency. She doesn’t seem to be prepared to perform the kind of double-talk necessary to win a California GOP primary without loosing any opportunity to win the general election in this overwhelmingly Democratic state.

The article finishes by quoting Whitman about what I believe will be her biggest campaign pitch.

“This is something that I’ve done before,” Whitman said of her fiscal recovery plans. “I think maybe it is about time for a governor who has created jobs, who’s managed a budget, who’s led and inspired large organizations, who listens well, and who can drive an agenda.”

I don’t believe, a priori, that CEOs and business leaders make good government officials. The transition from the priorities of business (profit) to those of government (the public good) is a paradigm shift. Business leaders must demonstrate the ability to make that transition before they can be elected.

I also think we can do without someone who will take credit for the jobs created at Ebay, but ignore the layoff of 10% of the workforce not six months after she left the job.

Update: See the take on her interview with AP at Calitics.


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. With the best Governor we’ve had in decades behind her – Pete Wilson – she’ll get this all figured out. She has many months to get her message crafted…so I’m not worried..and think she would make a great Governor.

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