JWR Jeff JacobyBen WattenbergTony Snow
Mona CharenDr. Laura
Linda Chavez

Paul Greenberg Larry ElderJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellMUGGERWalter Williams
Don FederCal Thomas
Political Cartoons
Left, Right & Center

Click on banner ad to support JWR

Jewish World Review /Jan. 29, 1999 /12 Shevat, 5759

Don Feder

Don Feder Poster boy for term-limits

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) IF SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR WILLIE BROWN looks a bit anxious these days, it may be because, after four decades in office, he is at last contemplating his political mortality.

With only a year to go in his first term, "Da Mayor," as Brown styles himself, is in trouble. Barely 30 percent of voters surveyed in a recent poll support his re-election.

For a man who relishes the limelight and unabashedly proclaims his love of power, Brown may be confronting his worst nightmare -- life in the private sector.

Time for a Brown-out!
After he was term-limited out of the California State Assembly -- where he served for 34 years, including 15 as the speaker -- Brown came home to San Francisco, not to live as one of the peons but to continue plying his trade.

At first, the flamboyant politician, with his $3,500 Brioni suits and wisecracking ways, was a novelty. When he wasn't presiding over unofficial mass gay weddings, his honor was pushing public financing for a new stadium for the 49ers.

The only thing Brown couldn't do was deliver where it actually counts. San Francisco's mass transit stinks -- as do the homeless. Sleeping in doorways and harassing pedestrians, the shopping-cart set are an intractable problem. Rents are among the highest in the country.

While the peasants simmer, Da Mayor lives like a Bourbon in Fontainebleau. Brown threw lavish parties when the city hosted the United States Conference of Mayors last year.

What did San Franciscans expect? Brown is the very model of our modern aristocracy -- the career politician.

Some think the 1990 California term-limitation initiative was designed to get Willie Brown out of Sacramento. The man who held power longer than any other speaker in the state's history certainly took the initiative personally and raised $6 million to defeat it.

He lost the battle, and California became one of the first of 18 states to limit service in its legislature.

Brown, whose power was such that pundits dubbed the Assembly "Willie Inc." was incensed. The effrontery of voters, telling him that 34 years was long enough!

Apparently, Brown was looking forward to another 15 years at the Assembly's helm. Then he could have left the state capital sometime in the next century, as he approached his next century.

Much like Strom Thurmond.

At first blush, it might seem that Brown and the U.S. senator from South Carolina have little in common. One is a black Democrat, the other a Republican and former Dixiecrat. But where it really counts (the drive for power and the arrogant assumption that a politician should be able to hold a particular office until rigor mortis sets in), the two are brothers under the skin.

Thurmond, age 95, has represented South Carolina in the Senate since the first Eisenhower administration. (Rumors that he took the oath of office from Jefferson Davis are exaggerated.)

When Republicans lost the South Carolina governorship in November, party leaders pleaded with Thurmond to step down so the outgoing GOP governor could appoint his successor. No such luck. Thurmond plans to take the office with him when he goes.

With long-term incumbency comes a certain detachment from reality, a predilection for big-government solutions and a tendency to view public office as a personal pinata filled with perks and opportunities for enrichment.

While he was Assembly speaker, Brown collected handsome legal fees for representing real-estate developers, liquor distributors and trade groups with an interest in pending legislation.

This dubious tradition continued when he switched his base of operations. According to a Dec. 1 profile piece in The New York Times, "Just recently a mayoral committee looking over proposals for the redevelopment of a former naval base ... recommended that the deal go to a group of investors with close political ties to the mayor, in an arrangement that critics say would net the city far less money than other proposals."

Someone has to pay for those $3,500 suits.

Meanwhile, the term-limitation movement rolls merrily along. This year, legislative limits went into effect in six states.

Michigan saw a 50 percent turnover in the lower house of its legislature. (In the U.S. House, 98.5 percent of incumbents running for another term were re-elected.)

If term limitation succeeds, some day the career of Willie Brown will illustrate the bad old days, when there were two classes in this country, citizens and officeholders -- one to rule, the other to be governed; one to spend, the other to render; one to wax rich from the workings of government, the other to be impoverished.


1/27/99: The 'so-what' defense in the City of Saints
1/25/99: Whose choice?
1/21/99: Censure worse than nothing
1/18/99: Words can`t dignify a dishonored presidency
1/13/99: Conservatism "with a heart" is conservatism without a head
1/11/99: If he isn't removed, watch out for Bill!
1/07/99: We can learn a lot from Teddy
1/05/99: Monica and a call to modesty
12/30/98: Will Bubba get away with it again?
12/28/98: Zionist dream alive and well on West Bank
12/18/98: Impeach or abandon the Rule of Law
12/16/98: Clinton moves Middle East closer to war
12/14/98: Why we lost interest in the homeless
12/10/98: No place at table for conservatives
12/07/98: The day America lost its innocence
12/02/98: Pilgrims Pilloried in streets of Plymouth
11/30/98: Caribbean dogpatch not a good candidate for statehood
11/25/98: Will Vermont force gay marriage on the nation?
11/23/98: The ACLU wants your kids to get a love life
11/18/98: Why liberals hate tobacco and guns more than drugs and crime
11/16/98: "Pleasantville" a countercultural morality play
11/13/98: Ads are a tough sell for abortion
11/09/98: Why gutless Republicans lost
11/06/98: Historians against the Constitution
11/02/98: Loving response to a hateful conference
10/28/98: Professor Death will fit right in at Princeton
10/26/98: Plymouth caves to Pilgrim foes
10/21/98: On '98 election, keep a critical eye on polls
10/19/98: Clinton could yet be 'prosperity president'
10/16/98: Working families -- Dems love 'em (stuffed)
10/09/98: Majoring in 'weirdness'
10/07/98: Friends of Billy Clinton
9/29/98: Letter from ex-soldier highlights defense peril
9/28/98: Answering arguments against impeachment
9/18/98: The nation that doesn't exist
9/14/98: Bubba isn't the only one who should be ashamed
9/11/98: Resolution of Clinton crisis will define national character
9/09/98: We're still just wild about Harry
9/07/98: Mexican banditry didn't end with Pancho Villa
9/02/98: Clinton forgives us!
8/31/98: Ashcroft's plain talking touches responsive chord
8/26/98: Public opinion be damned
8/24/98: Why liberals condone Clinton's lies
8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
8/12/98: With Bubba in the sexual privacy zone
8/10/98: The truth won't set Clinton free
8/06/98: Truth about Hiroshima is incontrovertible
8/04/98: Clinton not the first hollow president
7/30/98: "Small Soldiers" -- a fractured Vietnam allegory
7/27/98: Crime wave hits hometown
7/22/98: Love in an Internet fishbowl
7/20/98: Ads bring ex-gay movement out of closet
7/15/98: Brian and Amy -- the children of Roe
7/13/98: Why are we scared of obnoxious 'activists?'
7/6/98: Fonda still resists reality
7/1/98: New York blesses domestic partnerships
6/29/98: Teddy and Calvin stood for virtue
6/24/98: Will Clinton betray Taiwan?
6/22/98: Big tobacco? What about big casinos?
6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
6/10/98: Planning Clinton's China itinery
6/8/98: Republicans' Custer offers advice
6/4/98: Oh, Dems Christian-bashers!
6/2/98: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good
5/27/98: A Clinton-hater confesses
5/15/98: Giuliani's assault on marriage
5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
5/6/98: Conservative chasm: pragmatism vs. worship of marketplace
5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
4/29/98: Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
4/27/98: Chretien's mission of mercy to Fidel
4/22/98: School-choice is a religious freedom issue
4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
4/13/98: The U.N. sinister? Hey, where did that idea come from?
4/8/98: Unions fight workers rights in 226 campaign
3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
3/25/98: GOP shouldn't look to media for advice
3/22/98: You should care about Clinton's 'private life'
3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
12/22/97: No merry Christmas for persecuted Christians around the world
12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.