A French Fantasy for California’s Political Class


This summer has brought to California the perfect movie for Jerry Brown -- and every other Californian who persists in believing that, with just the right kind of wooing, Republican legislators can be made to compromise on taxes and other things.

The film is not a Hollywood blockbuster. It's a French film, called "The Names of Love," And it has a terrific premise. A left-wing woman is so skilled at the art of love making that she takes a series of right-wing men as lovers -- and converts them to her politics!

Watching it, I wondered if I had been wrong about Brown's failure being the result of a broken governing system. Perhaps the governor just needed a better love potion with the GOP.

But then I watched the rest of the movie and realized. This is a comedy. The French made it because it's so fantastic.

In California politics, however, what is farce and fantasy for the French is treated as real. Brown seemed to believe he could convert the GOP with his expert and artful wooing. Republicans have their own fantasies -- that if they just make their arguments with enough passion, the public employee unions will shrink, or go away entirely, and all will be right with the state. And the good government groups believe that by electing a few more moderates, the raw pleasure of compromise will tempt the politicians of California to come together

These hopes are nonsense, albeit beautiful nonsense. We need a system that is based on who we are: partisan, imperfect, fallen. If members of California's political class wants to indulge in French fantasy, they should stick to the cinema.

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