Why would New York Times national columnist David Brooks peek out of his Manhattan perch on Thursday, March 29, to offer up a Sweeping Pronouncement On All That Is Wrong With Modern Republicanism — and base it on obscure maneuvering days before in the San Diego mayoral primary, maneuvering that occurred long before the actual election? Why would the Huff Post’s Bill Bradley, a California analyst but far from a student of San Diego politics, write essentially the same column? Especially in Brooks’ case, the answer is almost certainly that the pundits were spun by former Bush 43/Schwarzenegger/McCain/Jon Huntsman media guru Matt David (pictured left). He’s Nathan Fletcher’s campaign manager, a sharp and funny guy who for years has cultivated California and national media (me included) with insider tales about his mavericky Republican clients. But David was too clever by much more than half in how he framed the tale of how his latest maverick — poor Nathan — was driven to leave the GOP by knee-jerk right winger Carl DeMaio. The result is that Brooks, Bradley and plenty of other pundits look like dopes for peddling Matt’s spin.
A credible media figure (i.e., not George Skelton) has emerged to defend Democratic lawmakers’ “pensions for all” proposal. SB 1234 would require private sector employees to pay 3 percent of their wages into a low-risk pension fund in return for a small guaranteed retirement benefit. In Prop Zero, Joe Mathews took issue with my description of the plan as “baked.” I think the first reaction of most people would be fury over the fact they were being forced to take a 3 percent pay cut to fund a novel, untested state program they had no reason to trust. Joe said my reaction and those of other critics was understandable but “completely backward.” Yo, Joe, say it ain’t so. Yo, Joe, when it comes to SB 1234, I like my side’s odds.
I am not a Nathan Fletcher hater. I don’t buy the narrative that the assemblyman is a closet liberal, or that his decision to work with San Diego police to shift their pensions to a different agency was some sinister plot to defraud taxpayers. But the L.A. Times’ George Skelton is his usual clueless self in reviewing and defending the San Diego mayoral candidate’s decision to bolt the GOP. Skelton leaves out key details that don’t make Fletcher look bad; they make Skelton look bad — like the knee-jerk partisan hack he’s been the vast majority of his career as a columnist.