LOS ANGELES - Another week like no other.
In California, the number of coronavirus cases ballooned to more than 659,000. That, as intense heat and thunderstorms led to some 500+ wildfires that continue to ravage much of the state.
Across the country, California’s Junior Senator Kamala Harris also made history, as she accepted the Vice Presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention. Harris becomes just the fourth woman in history to run on a major party ticket, joining the likes of 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, and 1984 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro.
To break it all down, Elex Michaelson is joined on The Issue Is by four-term California Governor Jerry Brown, attorney Gloria Allred, broadcaster John Kobylt, and political strategist Brian Goldsmith.
The conversation kicked off with Governor Jerry Brown, and a discussion on this week’s Democratic National Convention, which, due to coronavirus, was a mostly virtual affair.
“It worked, in fact, you could hear the speeches a little better, and hear the content, the expression, without all the atmospherics, the applauding, the hijinks, and all the rest,” Brown said, admitting that going virtual did remove some of the excitement.
On a content front, Brown addressed some of the criticism aimed this week at the DNC, that it relied more heavily on biography and identity politics, rather than concrete policy.
“Campaigns, usually, are at a very general level,” Brown said, citing past campaigns such as John F. Kennedy’s “Get America Moving Again and Ronald Reagan’s “It’s Morning in America.” “Trump is more exotic, he’s not like anything we’ve ever seen before, and I think what they’re trying to project is that Biden and Harris represent more of the real America, more of America than they’re saying Trump.”
From the Democratic National Convention as a whole, the conversation turned to the Democratic nominee himself, former Vice President Joe Biden.
While hailing from different coasts, Brown and Biden share a somewhat similar biography.
The two entered elected office within two months of each other, Biden as a member of Delaware’s New Castle County Council in November 1970, and Brown as California’s Secretary of State in January 1971.
Both men have also run for President three times apiece, Brown in 1976, 1980, and 1992, Biden in 1988, 2008, and 2020.
“You see what you get, you get what you see,” Brown said of Biden. “He’s had a lot of experience, he’s not flamboyant, he’s not a show-horse, he’s a work-horse… I’ve known him for decades, and he’s not on the far end of anything, he’s right in the Center of the Democratic party and American politics.”
One other trait the two men share is their more advanced age: Biden is 77, Brown is 82.
Given the fact that Biden, should he win, would be the oldest first-term President in US history, the question of age has cropped up occasionally throughout the campaign.
Michaelson asked Brown what he thought of the age debate, and whether Biden was too old to be President.
"No," Brown laughed. "I don't think I'm too old to be President. I'm 82… I feel I’m at the peak of my understand and experience.”
“Remember, energy is good… being young, and not knowing everything, you’re bolder, you’ll take risks, you’ll innovate,” Brown cautioned. “But as you get older, you understand things, you’ve made your mistakes, so you’re wiser… Biden looks pretty good, he’s got at least four years in him, maybe more.”
One person who’s age has not been questioned, although the pronunciation of her name has, as DNC host Julia Louis-Dreyfus pointed out, is Senator Kamala Harris, who on Wednesday accepted the nomination as Biden’s running mate.
Before being elected as California’s junior senator, Harris spent six years as California’s Attorney General, serving under Governor Brown.
“Joe is representing America, the tradition, and Kamala is certainly by no means on the radical side, but she is closer in touch with the America that is emerging, both through people of color, through the power of women,” Brown reflected. “I think it’s a pretty darn good balance, I think it would be good for California, and for America.”
From electoral politics, the conversation turned to matters of the state.
First, on the environment, and the tumultuous week that the Golden State has experienced, from record heat in Death Valley and rolling blackouts, to some 500+ wildfires that have ravaged the state, with no major signs of containment or slowing down.
“Climate is getting warmer, it’s changing… we’re going to have more of this, this is just a little taste of what’s coming,” Brown warned. “Wherever you are in the world, we have to pull together, and climate change, like this virus, ought to be something that brings us together, because we’re all facing the same thing, whether you’re a communist, whether you’re a follower of Putin, or whether you’re a North Korean or an Iranian, we’re all in the same boat, planet earth.”
Brown said that people have a “call to arms,” that the increased temperatures and fires will only get worse over the next five years, so the answer must be to get to zero-carbon emissions in society by 2045.
“We need radical change in the way things are going on.”
Also continuing to hammer California? Coronavirus.
To date, California has experienced more than 659,000 confirmed cases, the most of any state. As a result, 41 of the state’s 58 counties remain on a watch list that prevents further economic reopening until cases subside.
Brown, who serves as an advisor on Governor Newsom’s economic recovery task force, echoed the sentiment of his predecessor, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who in an August 9 appearance on The Issue is claimed that the state may have reopened too quickly
“Obviously we opened too soon, because the virus expanded,” Brown said. “But I have to say, as a Governor, this thing is complicated. People are yelling and screaming, ‘we’ve gotta work,’ ‘we’ve got to get to school,’ ‘we’ve got to get to our jobs,’… we’ve got millions of people who, without the money, can’t make it, can’t feed their families, so the Governor had a tough decision to make, things looked better, and, as it turned out, he had to turn back.”
While California could have reacted differently, Brown said the ultimate problem was the response at the federal level, blaming President Trump for not having mobilized manufacturing to ramp up testing capacity, as well as for not providing essential workers with the necessary financial supports.
“[The President needs] to have mobilized manufacturing so that we could have had millions of tests a day,” Brown said. “The failure of the President has led to the fix that Newsom and California find themselves in.”
“We should have closed down completely for four months and had the federal government pay the difference, then we could have gotten over it. But we didn’t have the quarantine, we didn’t pay the low-paid workers, and we didn’t have the testing.”
The conversation wrapped up with a discussion of the future, and what Brown believes California, and the nation, will look like come 2021, depending on who prevails in the November election.
“No matter who’s President, we have a big challenge, because we’ve been spending all this money, we have a lot of unemployment, we have a lot of businesses that went out of business and aren’t coming back.”
If President Trump wins re-election, Brown said he believes that there will be enormous polarization and discontent. If Biden prevails, Brown admits that miracles won’t be performed, but that there will be calm and bipartisanship brought about by Biden’s skill and empathy.
Next, after a week of nightly analysis on FOX 11’s special DNC coverage, The Issue Is is again joined by Allred, Kobylt, and Goldsmith to provide their major takeaways from a convention like one that no one has seen before.
“I thought it was a great week,” Allred said. “I felt that Uncle Joe was sitting at the kitchen table with our families and sharing with us why he’ll make a great next President of the United States.”
Kobylt disagreed, bemoaning the fact that the convention ignored major issues like homelessness, and the violence in the streets of Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles, opting instead to cater to those who “want to be cuddled, and patted on the head, and given a good night story.”
“That’s called fear-mongering?” Kobylt asked. “No, that’s really happening, and you would think a major political party would be addressing that.”
While the DNC broadcast roughly 8 hours of material in primetime this week, Goldsmith said that the only moment that really mattered was Biden’s acceptance speech.
“Joe Biden just knocked it out of the ballpark,” he said. “I was moved far more than I expected to be, and I think that’s largely because we haven’t had a President, at least a President in any sense that I can recognize, in the last three and a half years, and he held out the promise of a President again.”
With the DNC in the history books, attention now shifts to the Republican National Convention, where President Trump and Vice President Pence will officially be nominated for re-election.
Michaelson asked the panel what they expect to see.
“I’m look for real feelings, real plans, and an explanation for why he has failed us for the last three-and-a-half years, why he’s avoided responsibility,” Allred argued.
Kobylt pushed back, noting that the President has been able to connect with millions of Americans.
“One thing that they connected with him about is the failure of both political parties, for a long time, to do things in America’s best interest.”
The final word went to Goldsmith, who said that, given the fact that polls suggest Americans believe America is on the wrong track, “[President Trump] has a heavy lift convincing people that they should take a second look at him, at his record, at his vision for the future… that’s his job next week.”
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.