The Orange County Register Subscription
Former Gov. Jerry Brown often said that he subscribed to the “canoe theory of politics” — paddle a little to the left, a little to the right and then glide down the middle. He deployed that strategy through many of the crises he had to manage. From this conservative’s perspective, he did a lot more paddling on the left than the right, which might explain why his administration often appeared to be going in circles.
Nonetheless, interests representing the private sector at least had Brown’s ear on big issues even when he pursued decidedly anti-business policies. Brown also seemed to be able to pivot in ways that didn’t appear as flip-flopping, explaining his “revised” positions on issues in obscure terms quoting either Scripture or Greek philosophers.
One such example when Brown “saw the light” was with Proposition 13 which, prior to the June election in 1978, he vigorously opposed. He openly derided Howard Jarvis as a fool and snake-oil salesman — that is, until Proposition 13 was enacted. After that, he embraced Prop. 13 to such an extent that pundits started calling him “Jerry Jarvis.” He even visited Howard and his wife Estelle at their home in L.A. on numerous occasions for taco lunches.