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Time to Grow Up, Jerry

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Time to Grow Up, Jerry

AP

In this photo illustration, California Gov. Jerry Brown is imagined as a child.

If you're looking for dark comedy, take a look at the front page of Wednesday's New York Times.

A story there reports -- based on interviews with Gov. Jerry Brown's friends and associates -- that he has been surprised by how unwilling Republicans have been to compromise with him, particularly on taxes.

The story doesn't answer the real question: how is it possible that a highly intelligent man such as Brown who has been in public office for more than 30 years -- and for the past decade, as Oakland mayor and state attorney general -- is surprised by the GOP's uncompromising anti-tax stance?

Was he asleep during those years? Is he really Rip van Winkle?

Welcome to 2011, Jerry Brown.

Heck, welcome to the late 20th century.

Your blogger is 38 years old. Throughout my 17-year career as a journalist, Republicans' strategy of saying no -- especially to taxes -- has been a fact of political life, in the United States and in California.

Maybe, at age 73, it's time for Jerry Brown to grow up.

What's particularly striking about California -- and a big contributor to the state's problems -- is that Republicans have been willing to abandon almost every other conservative principle they espouse (especially opposition to big, centralized government) because they hate taxes more than they like anything else.

The way to address this reality is to change the governing system -- so that the minority party can't put up constant roadblocks to fiscal decisionmaking.

But in the Times story, just as he has throughout his time as governor, Brown refuses to consider the systemic reform that the situation requires. Instead, he prefers to keep complaining about how difficult it is to deal with Republicans.

Yes, such reform will be very, very difficult to accomplish.

 But Brown, by his own admission, hasn't been able to find a strategy short of such reform that will work. Whining about a problem, instead of fixing it, is more than a little bit childish.

Credit: Above photo illustration by Olsen Ebright

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