Brown’s gaffe of particular interest to ex-Dem party official

Patrick Dorinson, the erstwhile state Republican party spokesman who now calls himself a cowboy libertarian, actually has a deeper political past that ran through both Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton.

In 1990-1991, Dorinson was the finance director for the state Democratic party, under then-chairman Brown. He moved on to raise funds for Clinton in the 1992 presidential campaign, before serving in his administration.

So, Dorinson was particularly intrigued by the hole that Brown dug for himself with his vague but all-too-clear remarks about Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky saga, as I reported here and as Time Magazine posted:

“Jerry forgets the old cowboy phrases: one, never miss a chance to shut up,” Dorinson said. “And, two, it’s better to shoot off your rifle by mistake and hit yourself in the foot than to shoot off your mouth on purpose.”

Brown, he said, “starts to get that flow of consciousness going, which can be good in that you get what he wants to tell you. The problem is he doesn’t know when to stop.”

Dorinson said he thought Brown’s line  — “I did not have taxes with this state” — was “clever. It was a very interesting twist of a phrase if you look at it from a satirist’s or blogger’s point of view. But you’re not running for chief blogger. Once you make a mistake like that, it’s hard to pull back.

“Sometimes he thinks what he says is funny to him and the circle he’s with. But you’re in the middle of a battle when people’s opinions are being formed.”

Dorinson said he just doesn’t think Brown is hip to the swiftness — and sometimes devastating impact — of technology that kicks a comment around YouTube or the blogosphere.

“In this era, if you say something and if it has any slight potential problem, somebody will exploit it,” Dorinson said. “He has to understand that in this era, you gotta watch your comments a lot more carefully.”

He also said that Brown is allowing Whitman to define him at a crucial point in the campaign. She’s making the campaign a referendum about his first two terms as governor, and has been on the attack since the day after the June 8 primary.

Brown, meanwhile,  only just got started with his first TV ad on Labor Day, and has yet to start going after Whitman. His campaign has said that their internal polling shows that there has been no need to go negative — that Whitman’s attacks appear to be rebounding against her.

But, the effectiveness of her most recent ad, with Clinton tearing into Brown, saying he lied about his record as governor, might have hit a particularly sensitive spot.

Brown and his team have cried foul, accusing Whitman of lying about his record as governor and mayor. News reports have shown Whitman has been caught making a series of distortions as reported in this story, here and here.

“People may love to make an issue of Jerry’s poorly-made jokes, but contrast that with a candidate who has a real problem with the truth,”  Sterling Clifford, Brown’s spokesman, said after Brown’s news conference ended Monday. “One is a fun campaign issue. The other raises serious questions about the candidate’s ability to govern.”

But the power of being able to repeat your own story, no matter how truthful, over and over with the seemingly unlimited amount of wealth that Whitman can tap into, has a certain overwhelming impact.

Which leads to the question: when does the Brown campaign begin its own air assault on Whitman? For one thing, it would be a a good way to turn the page from the Brown/Clinton gaffe. For another, if voters are beginning to pay attention, the time is now to start defining your opponent, as Whitman has already begun to do.

Update: Brown and campaign manager Steve Glazer will be announcing the unveiling of a new ad Tuesday at noon in Sacramento. Can it be that Whitman will be play a featured role? Stay tuned.

Steven Harmon

  • Elwood

    I couldn’t let this opportunity pass with out posting Josh’s favorite quote:


  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    “For he’s bad, bad Jerry Brown
    Meanest liberal in our town…”