Willie and the Candidate Jive

Though never a Billy Dee Williams or Harry Belafonte, former California assembly speaker and San Francisco mayor Willie Brown pioneered the practice of poontronage, and one of the first beneficiaries was Kamala Harris. Brown set her up in lucrative sinecures and backed her 2016 U.S. Senate run by telling Democrats such as former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to butt out. Brown, however, is also on record saying Harris’s presidential campaign has been “hit and miss,” and now he has dumped her completely in favor of Hillary Clinton. This will not please Elizabeth Weil of The Atlantic.

In May, Weil praised Harris as “magnetic, authoritative, warm,” and the identity politics were fully correct. Harris was “San Francisco’s first female district attorney, first black district attorney, first Asian American district attorney.” In the presidential race, Harris is “in top form,” touting the truth, and “dressed in a dark suit, pearls, and black heels.” The clothes themselves are “a smart, cautious play, one that Hillary Clinton, frankly, could have benefited from.” 

She didn’t, but that doesn’t bother Democratic Party kingmaker Willie Brown, who in the October 5 San Francisco Chronicle played the role of fight promoter Don King.

“It’s time for Hillary Clinton to come out of retirement, lace up the gloves and get back in the ring with President Trump for what would be the biggest political rematch ever,” Brown wrote. From what he had seen, “Clinton is the only candidate short of Barack Obama who has the brains, the battle-tested brawn, and the national presence to take out Trump.” 

But Willie, what about the others?

According to Brown, “Bernie Sanders was fading even before his heart started acting up,” and “Joe Biden has become Trump’s main talking point in the whole Ukraine-China impeachment mess.” Elizabeth Warren “has a following, but it’s not that much broader than Sanders’.”

The column did not sit well with attorney Joe Cotchett, Joe Biden’s go-to guy in the Bay Area. As Cotchett told Politico, it was “the dumbest column, the worst fucking column ever,” and “every once in a while, Willie gets a stick up his ass, and doesn’t know what to write.”

Several weeks after Brown’s call for Hillary’s “rematch,” the former first lady and 2016 loser targeted Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard as a “Russian asset” being groomed for 2020, and said 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was also in Putin’s pocket. Gabbard has been punching back but Willie Brown is not on record about how the deployment of the Russia smear might enhance Hillary’s status as the smartest candidate. 

As Brown noted in his Chronicle column, though she lost in the Electoral College, Hillary beat Trump in the popular tally by nearly 3 million votes, and “that’s not bad for one of the worst-run campaigns ever. You’ve got to think that she and the party learned something.” Out in Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, voters might wonder about that.

Democrats learned that Warren’s claim of Cherokee ancestry was false, yet this long-standing identity fraud did not prevent Democrats from accepting the Massachusetts senator as a presidential candidate. Brown failed to provide a scorecard for Mayor Pete Buttigieg, “Beto” O’Rourke, Julian Castro, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, or Andrew Yang. Though not officially in the race, fair Hillary is the smartest of them all. That calls to mind a Bay Area reference that Brown would recognize and Millennials and their younger siblings should know.

Ioannis Veliotes was born to Greek immigrant parents and grew up in West Berkeley, a black neighborhood. He dropped out of school to play drums with various bands, changing his name to Johnny Otis. When rock ’n’ roll came along, Otis went that way and in 1958 scored a hit with “Willie and The Hand Jive.” In this tune, a cat named Way Out Willie has a “cool little chick named rockin’ Milly.” For Way Out Willie Brown, it’s rockin’ Hillary, and though her pantsuits may be uncool, she dances all kinds of crazy jive. 

“So maybe there does need to be a rematch,” Clinton recently told PBS. “Obviously, I can beat him again.” She appears to be running for reelection, claiming that nothing has been more examined than her emails. Key Democrat opponents like Tulsi Gabbard are Russian assets, with bots and websites already deployed for battle.

Meanwhile, during her campaign for district attorney of San Francisco, Kamala Harris called Willie Brown “an albatross around my neck,” charging, “His career is over. I will be alive and kicking for the next 40 years. I do not owe him a thing.” But will Way Out Willie Brown’s former flame be the Democratic Party’s nominee, or will it be Hillary Clinton or somebody else? As President Trump likes to say, we’ll see what happens.

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About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: Earl Gibson III/FilmMagic

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