If you were a latchkey kid in the 1980s, or if you just watched some non-adult-supervised daytime TV before doing your homework, Chuck Woolery is probably embedded in your lizard brain.
The game show host's performance in "Love Connection," a dating game of sorts, was a masterpiece of so-bad-it's-good television. He was just smarmy and gossipy enough to be delicious, and just restrained enough so watchers could feel they weren't compromising their dignity.
So Woolery's leap into California initiative politics in the final days of the June 5 primaries triggers a Pavlovian response for some of us -- I can't help but feeling a wee bit nostalgic.
With Prop 28, a measure to modify the state's legislaitve term limits appearing to be in good position for victory, Woolery -- a supporter of term limits and opponent of Prop 28 -- has made a web video as a last-ditch attempt to kill it. (The video is above).
Alas, I couldn't make a love connection with Woolery's argument.
He says in the video that the arguments for Prop 28 are deceptive because it's being pitched as shortening term limits while it's really an extension of term limits. Woolery is half-right. Yes, the number of years a legislator can serve in one house is being extended to 12 years (from six in the Assembly and eight in the state Senate). But the overall number of years that a person can serve is being reduced, from 14 to those same 12 years.
In truth, this is a muddled measure that won't change the political reality much in California.
Letting people serve longer in one house may add a bit to expertise in the legislature, and give legislative leaders some more power. But the term limits remain in place, limiting expertise and voter choice.And California's lawmakers remain so hamstrung by a broken budget system and constitution that there isn't all that much they can do in the first place.
They are janitors, who divide their days between pursuing very minor legislation and managing the fiscal messes that voters, the courts and previous legislatures have helped create.
I should note that term limits isn't a new cause for Woolery.\
While he still works in TV (most recently as host of a game show called "Think Like a Cat"), he co-founded an organization, Restart Congress, that advocates for Congressional terms limits.
To that proposition, I would suggest to Chuck that a love connection with term limits may feel romantic first but is unlikely to produce lasting happiness. Do you know the last time polls showed that a majority of Californians approved of the job the state legislature was doing? The month before term limits passed in 1990.
That said, it's good to see Chuck engaged civically. And I'll always be grateful for his company on those long-ago afternoons.
Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).