Once it was probably school busing. Before that, integration.
And remember slavery?
There's always a line politicians won't cross.
Romney said that his comments about the 47% were "not elegantly stated." Now he says they were "completely wrong," which is something altogether different. But, hey. It's a game.
Obama spent how many years "evolving" on gay marriage before Joe Biden forced the question on him and he admitted that he believes there's a constitutional right to it but that states should be free to decide whether to enforce that right or prohibit it.
Which brings me to California, Proposition 34, the death penalty, and Jerry Brown.
Prop 34 is, of course, the ballot referendum on the death penalty in California. If a simple majority of voters endorse it on November 6, California, with the nation's largest death row, will join the abolitionist states. It will replace the sentence of death in prison inflicted by prison guards under color of law with a sentence of death in prison by natural causes or however else it might occur. That's a horrible sentence, a worse one to some people. But it isn't a sentence of murder, and that's no small thing.
In February 1960, Caryl Chessman was nearing the end of his almost 12 years on death row as the Red Light Bandit, convicted of of a series of robberies, kidnappings, and rapes. Chessman said he was the wrong guy, and he fought for years over his sentence. In fact, his was the longest fight over a death sentence in US history to that point. And now it was almost over.
|Governor Pat Brown|
Pop, won't you do something about this? Call it off, will you? Please. You know it's the right thing to do.The kid was Jerry Brown. The father was Pat Brown, then-Governor of California. Maybe it was Jerry's call, maybe not. (He claimed it was at the request of the State Department because of a trip Eisenhower was taking to South America where feelings against executing Chessman were strong.) Whatever convinced him, Governor Brown issued a 60-day reprieve. He didn't commute the sentence, though, and in April Chessman was killed. (A federal court order granting a one-hour stay so the judge could hear last minute evidence that Chessman was innocent arrived moments too late.)
Young Brown kept at it. In 1968, he was among those holding a vigil outside the gates of San Quentin when Aaron Mitchell was executed. He was Governor when the California legislature passed a bill reinstating the death penalty. He vetoed it.
David Siders in the Sacramento Bee.
He called it "a matter of conscience," a sentiment he expanded upon when he was asked while running for president in 1992 if his opposition to the death penalty was absolute.So you think it would be an easy call.
"Yes," Brown said. "When someone is contained in a cage, then to bureaucratically, coldbloodedly snuff out their life, whether by poison or by electrocution or by gas, it seems, it doesn't seem right to me."
Yet ask him about the death penalty now, and he won't say. Two years ago he was asked generally why he wouldn't try to stop executions any more. Siders again.
"I don't know," Brown said on an airplane between campaign rallies in the Central Valley. "You want to reinvent the world. But we have the world. And this is a matter that's been before the voters … been before the Legislature. At this point in time, it's relatively settled."
And maybe he'll vote for Prop 34. Or maybe not. He won't say.
He's not talking about the secret ballot or anything.
He said [he] is focused solely on his own initiative to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.Which, you know, means that he refuses to answer the question. To give Prop 34 any moral support. To use the at least somewhat bully pulpit of the Governorship.
It's not too late.
The election is 30 days from tomorrow. Five seconds to answer a reporter's question.
About whether lifelong principles count.
Or is he afraid the death penalty is the third rail.
The voters could prove him wrong on that one.