Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman waves to supporters at her primary night party at the Universal Hilton Hotel June 8, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay, won the Republican gubernatoria
One of my favorite political photographs is of Lyndon B. Johnson on the floor of the Senate, leaning physically over a fellow lawmaker he's trying to intimidate. It's a reminder than good politics is often physical.
Which is why I wonder about the wisdom of efforts by the California Nurses Association to make hay of reports that Meg Whitman put her hands on an eBay employee while she ran that company, an act that led to a six-figure settlement to the employee. Hearing that story, I was glad I hadn't worked for Whitman. But at the same time, if you ask me if I'd like to see a governor manhandle legislative leaders, I'd be all for it.
The relevant question for California's gubernatorial aspirants isn't where they place their hands. Goodness knows, if inappropriate touching disqualified you from office, Arnold Schwarzenegger never would have been elected. The question is if you can use your brain and your hands and your entire heart, soul and body to deliver good policy and effective compromises.
This sort of negotiation and governance seems beyond our political leaders' personal abilities and next to impossible within California's broken dysfunctional system. Whitman's problem isn't who she might have shoved; it's that she gives little indication of having the ability to govern.
That said, if the next governor can figure out a way to balance the budget, provide better funding for schools and make the state more friendly for job creators, why should anyone of us care if her or she shoves a few people in doing it?