A new political ad makes an unreal attack based on unreal projections derived from the unreal plan of its target, Meg Whitman.
The governor's race has become so unmoored from the worlds of reality and fact that it's come to this: fictional attacks on other people's fiction.
The ad in question is the above from the 325,000-member California Teachers Assn., the biggest and smartest group in politics. In the spot, CTA claims that Whitman plans to cut $7 billion from education, including laying off 100,000 teachers and increasing class sizes by 33 percent.
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If you hadn't heard about this plan from Whitman, it's because you haven't. But CTA isn't quoting Whitman here. It's wildly extrapolating from Whitman's budget plan which calls for another $15 billion in cuts. As CTA explains on its web site: "since public education is about half of the state budget and received over 50 percent of the cuts in the last two years, billions more in cuts to the state budget likely would mean billions more in cuts to public education. Cutting another $7 billion from education would be the same as laying off another 100,000 educators or increasing class sizes by 33 percent..."
This is an unfair attack -- no governor is going to make cuts like that, because to do so would be to finish one's governorship -- but there is rough justice in the CTA's blast at her. Her budget plan, which she has been touting for months, isn't real, and this ad, at the very least, exposes that fact. Whitman's plan also argues for new investments in higher education and prisons, without offering a clear way to pay for them. CTA's ad is clever because it exposes the absurdity of Whitman's so-called plan. The ad does short-term damage to her for raising questions about her commitment to education. If she is forced to back off some of the numbers in her budget plan, the CTA wins again, since it can remind her of any change in her position if she's elected governor.
(And, yes, Jerry Brown's policy plans -- he's released stuff on jobs, green energy, pensions and education -- probably aren't real either, which is part of what makes this campaign so utterly meaningless).