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California Governor Gavin Newsom speaking at the State of the State address in Sacramento, CA, Mar 8, 2022. (Photo: Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock)

Newsom’s Charisma Overcomes Dahle’s Truths in a Rigged Debate

Hectoring Dahle like a schoolboy, Newsom used his height advantage as well as his positioning to lean into Dahle’s personal space with impunity

By Edward Ring, October 25, 2022 6:45 am

For the best description of Gavin Newsom’s behavior during his debate with gubernatorial challenger Brian Dahle last Sunday, one must go all the way back to Hunter Thompson’s unforgettable book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in 1972, where he compares a career politician on the scent of the presidency to a bull elk in a mating rut. Here is a snippet of Thompson’s arresting prose:

“The dumb bastards lose all control of themselves when the rut comes on. Their eyes glaze over, their ears pack up with hot wax, and their loins get heavy with blood. Anything that sounds like a cow elk in heat will fuse the central nervous systems of every bull on the mountain. They will race through the timber like huge cannonballs, trampling small trees and scraping off bloody chunks of their own hair on the unyielding bark of the big ones. A career politician finally smelling the White House is not much different from a bull elk in the rut. He will stop at nothing, trashing anything that gets in his way.”

Against such potent political hormones, cascading through Newsom’s whole lanky body these days with the force of the Los Angeles River during a monsoon, Dahle never had a chance.

Even if Dahle could have mustered sufficient combative eloquence to butt heads with Newsom in rut, the setup was rigged. In a fair staging, the candidates are placed on opposite sides of the set, with the moderators in the center, usually facing them. Thanks to organizer bias likely masquerading as budget constraints, this debate had two tables, both facing the camera, with the candidates at one table and the moderators at the other. The tables were angled to make it easier for the moderators and candidates to see each other. At the candidate table, Newsom had the outside spot. Throughout the debate, this put Dahle at a major disadvantage.

Instead of both candidates being in identical and therefore neutral positions, Dahle was sandwiched between the moderators and Newsom. He was forced to either turn his head towards the moderators or towards Newsom, and could never speak to them both at the same time. Newsom, on the other hand, turned in his chair to practically face Dahle, looming over him whenever he tried to speak. It was reminiscent of how Trump hovered behind candidate Hilary Clinton in the second presidential debate of 2016. But don’t expect the same approbation to fall on Newsom.

Hectoring Dahle like a schoolboy, Newsom used his height advantage as well as his positioning to lean into Dahle’s personal space with impunity, often making points with hand gestures that moved well beyond the halfway point of the table to almost, but not quite, make Dahle involuntarily flinch. It was a masterful display of dominant body language, facilitated by the sponsors of the debate either through disgraceful negligence or willful hostility towards Dahle.

One must wonder why a public broadcasting service, funded by taxes along with tax deductible donations, can’t even muster impartiality when the chances that Dahle, whose campaign account through the most recent reporting period ending 9/24 had a balance of $408,000 compared to Newsom’s $23.2 million, has about as much chance of an upset as walk-on athletes from Newsom’s favorite Waldorf school have of fielding a football team and beating the Los Angeles Rams. And it wasn’t just the stage that was rigged. Throughout the debate, as Newsom, leaning in, repeatedly interrupted Dahle, the moderators made no attempt to give the candidates equal time to speak.

With all that said, even if Newsom was so old he’d need transplants to maintain his pompadour, and was not entering the springtime of his presidential political rut, Dahle was outgunned. Several times he got trapped in places where with more experience he would have been able to score points. One tough example of this was when Newsom goaded Dahle into focusing on and defending a gas tax holiday, when it appeared Dahle was about to make a much more powerful point about California’s supply gutting regulatory war on refineries and drilling.

Another area where Dahle got backed into a corner, with Newsom getting help from one of the moderators, was on the question of whether Proposition 1 would permit late term abortions. Dahle all but let them assert that Prop. 1 does not do that, when in fact the language is ambiguous. If legal experts who are pro-life have concluded that Prop. 1 will permit late term abortions, that should be good enough for Dahle to run with. He should have forcefully declared his belief that Prop. 1 will permit abortions up until birth, and he could have immediately – without taking a breath or permitting himself to be interrupted – to ask Newsom why even abortion at “only” six months is not grotesque. He could have described a six month old fetus and challenged Newsom to defend killing it.

Instead, the moderators used the abortion discussion to segue into asking Dahle if he is for the death penalty, and again Dahle appeared indecisive. If Dahle has gone on record as supporting the death penalty, which the moderators implied, then he needed to own it. He could have explained the grisly, psychopathic, hideous, murderous crimes that earned these criminals a death sentence and challenged Newsom to explain how these criminals should be spared while innocent babies are killed. It’s not a contradiction to support the death penalty while also being pro-life. Unless there is no difference between a murderer and a baby, what’s contradictory is amnesty for killers and death for fetuses.

Over and over Dahle was outmaneuvered by Newsom with the complicity of the moderators. A telling moment was during the segment on public education, where Newsom said he “took offense” at Dahle’s criticism of California’s K-12 system of public education, where, as Dahle pointed out, “seventy percent of kids can’t read at their grade level.” Watching Newsom in this moment was revealing. As the hormones of his presidential rut surged through him, you could see a vicious curl to his mouth and hear a vicious edge to his voice. That it would surface in this moment should be no surprise. Newsom is owned by the teachers union, one of the most powerful special interests in the state, an organization in complete denial of the harm they’ve done to a generation of students.

Republicans Have Solutions – But They Have to Own Them


Sen. Brian Dahle. (Photo: dahle.cssrc.us)

If politicians like Brian Dahle, and the California Republican Party he represents, want to have any chance to regain political power they will have to lean in to the issues where they’re being challenged. They have to openly and loudly reject the premises of the Democratic establishment.

“Climate change” is not the reason California’s forests are burning. It’s because California’s Democrat controlled legislature has destroyed the timber industry at the same time as it has made it all but impossible to graze livestock, do controlled burns, or mechanically thin the forests. They’re overgrown tinderboxes. Why didn’t Dahle make this point, raising his voice while doing so?

Similarly, Newsom’s blather about creating jobs could have been countered by Dahle interrupting and reminding Newsom that California has the highest rate of poverty in the nation. Dahle was right to point out that companies are leaving and residents as well are fleeing to other states, but when Newsom rattled off some vague story about “public-private and public-public partnerships” to revitalize Kern County, Dahle should have interrupted him to state the obvious: If you want to create good jobs in Kern County, start drilling again for oil and gas. Quit sending our money and our best jobs to Nicolás Maduro.

It is impossible to tepidly call for more oil and gas drilling, more refinery capacity, more logging, more nuclear power plants, and more reservoir storage. These things must be done. It is not possible to sort of and partially hold the teachers union responsible for ruining the public schools. They are unequivocally responsible. Instead of letting Newsom, again with help during the debate from the moderators, claim that Proposition 47 (which decriminalized crime) didn’t cause more crime, dispute that highly debatable assertion, and remark that even without Prop. 47, district attorneys like the idiotic George Gascon in Los Angeles are actively working to make our cities unsafe.

It is a moderate politician that is outspoken and explicit in their support for clean fossil fuel, safe nuclear power, off-stream reservoirs, responsible logging, and school choice. It is a moderate politician that calls for putting criminals in jail, and moving homeless people into centralized, cost-effective and safe shelters. It is a moderate politician that calls for deregulation in order to enable more competition between businesses which will drive down costs for everything, including housing. And any politician with an ounce of decency knows that a late term abortion is one of the most ghastly forms of murder imaginable. So no. No late term abortions. Make Democrats defend abortions up to six months, which is appalling enough.

These are the solutions that Newsom accused Dahle, and his party, of lacking. California’s Republicans have to promote these solutions without apology or compromise. They are not extreme, even though they shatter every premise and piety of the Democratic machine. The politically and environmentally correct “solutions” that have been imposed on Californians by Democrats are nothing but a facade to empower special interests. Solutions exist. They’re scary. Own them.

Newsom won last night. He won because he is slick, as Dahle pointed out. He won because the debate itself, right down to the seating assignments, was rigged in his favor. He won because he spoke his party’s line with the conviction of an accomplished thespian, whereas Dahle’s truths were sincere but lacked theatrical passion.

But let’s be real. Even if Dahle destroyed Newsom, leaving his political carcass, reeking of rut, wasting on the roadside, Dahle would still be financially outgunned by more than 50 to 1. An advantage like that can turn a comatose candidate into a winning competitor. Just consider the zombie who two years ago became U.S. President. That’s what overwhelming support from established special interests can do in politics. Newsom’s no zombie. Newsom is a bull moose, in the full flush of his political life, lusting for the prize.

California’s Republicans must change the terms of the discussion. They must build their platform on a foundation that doesn’t merely reject, but ridicules and replaces the fundamental assumptions of the Democratic party, their media allies, and the special interests that are mopping up the state. Only then will they attract the support they need to win.

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17 thoughts on “Newsom’s Charisma Overcomes Dahle’s Truths in a Rigged Debate

  1. What pay off will Brian get for being the sacrificial lamb of the CaGOP?
    “oh well, we tried” says the CaGOP.
    It’s about face time on the street, hard work with the grass roots, not e-blasts and wine parties.

  2. Thank you for the analysis. Newsom’s lies, bullying, aggressive and menacing body language and face-making, the pass he was given by the moderators to monopolize the conversation, is all the more reason to vote for Senator Brian Dahle for Governor just so we have a shot at no longer being tormented in a literal hell on earth for another four years under Gavin Newsom.
    Dahle is a smart, decent, knowledgeable, and experienced candidate who ran into INDECENCY in that debate and, once he saw the gang-up and the set-up, I think I know what he was experiencing: He was mad as hell. What do you do when you are mad as hell in a situation like that? You try to stay calm. You already know you will be cut off by Newsom and the moderators and you won’t be able to develop a point or a response, so you revert to succinctly relaying as much info as you possibly can, including what differentiates your stance from Gavin Gruesome’s HORRIBLE policies and of course getting in the necessary digs at Newsom when you have a chance. Considering the maddening obstacles of every sort, and being ‘hobbled’ by actually having to tell the truth and be reasonable and civilized, I thought Sen Dahle did a GREAT job.

  3. And in other news, Jessica Millan Patterson was nowhere to be found…

    Oh Jessssicaaaaa…. where are you, Jessicaaaaaa????

    Vote Brian Dahle ON ELECTION DAY and not by mail or drop-box… we need to enforce our requests with our behaviors and GUM up the Democrat cheat-by-mail programs by forcing them to GUESS how many ballots to harvest and “adjudicate” with less time to do it…

    Ordered two more Dahle for Governor from some vendor in MICHIGAN of all places and will place them prominently in my neighborhood… people need to know that there is viable support for this guy because the CAGOP is COMPLETELY USELESS…..

  4. I’ve only begun to read this, and will return… Good description, ‘hectoring’, he’s become the bully he despises;
    also great analogy, ‘bull elk in rut’ (had to see the book actually exists, and it does. Hunter Thompson is a very dark character ie. adrenochrome, but he could write). It also brought another truth forward, the character, power structure and expectations of the world that put Newsom on this platform. I think he hates it, but enjoys the lifestyle and society it affords him.
    Brian Dahle (‘Be Water’) no matter the disadvantages, truth becomes prominent and deep state has lost the ability to censor as it seeps and flows through and around barriers.
    GDP – The state has been shut down for 2 years.. is this $$$ from the bioweapon vax (BioNtec, covid testing, hospital payoffs for covid diagnosis and treatment?, body part sales) California needs a thorough audit dating back years definitely something more going on.
    Gas price – Suspend the tax (all $1.21+ per gal), and costs associated with producing the ‘California blend’, and union vs independent trucking, oil companies will fall in with national averages. Not everything has to be controlled by Gavin!
    Education choice & vouchers – Newsom lashed out at that. Children are ‘pre-sorted’ from birth.. some intended
    for labor, as soldiers, for sex, and others intellectual pursuits. How dare anyone suggest a child, not deemed worthy in their eyes, receive a fair shot.
    ‘Joke about Joe Biden leads to extremely awkward moment’ (sf gate)- More interesting than Newsom’s response and the demand for explanation is SF Gate divulging the timing of debate and how citizens’ not in the ‘club’ are insignificant, easily distracted and mocked… written by Eric Ting alluded to ‘Normal People at 1PM on a Sunday…. (1pm Christian McCaffrey 49’ers football debut -or- HBO House of Dragons)

  5. I will simply state that I found Newsom’s “charisma” off putting.
    What actually did he stand on!? He rudely pointed his finger at his debate opponent to look tough, give me a break!
    We all have eyes and can see this state is a wastleland!

  6. Charisma is not a word that EVER comes to mind with Newsom.
    Greasy, oil slick, pretentious, bad actor, narcissistic, petulant, phony, empty, puppet….
    there, fixed it.

  7. Debate hosted by leftist KQED. Are you kidding me?

    Did they give Newsom the list of questions like CNN did with Hillary?

    Dahle should have declined, and demanded the debate be held on neutral territory.

  8. Brian Dahle, Edward Ring, Lanhee Chen would be an incredible first step for California. Statista.com shows the majority of California GDP comes from Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Rental and Leasing; followed by Professional and Business Services; and third Information… something to consider.
    It’s truly disgusting that Newsom’s platform centers on abortion (watch Dr Levantino videos), and the prosecution of David Daleiden; mutilating and creating dysphoria in children with transgender therapy; along with mandating vaccines it will bring about his fall. This is as far as he goes. The End.

  9. Hairdo is a deeply evil man. Any competent person could undo him in short order. Sadly “competent” and “CalGOP” are like oil and water. So sad. Meanwhile, the rest of us, the typical California citizen just trying to eke out a living are left to suffer at the hands of evil and incompetence.

  10. Despite his assertions, I believe Gavin fully plans to run for president in 2024..Joe is falling apart more every day.
    Lord Gavin is spending $0 money to run any sort of advertising – so saving his money for presidential run – currently has over $22M for his reelection.
    Did anyone notice he did not even provide a candidate’s statement in the voters guide? Pathetic.
    Cant imagine Slick Gavin debating someone stronger like DeSantis that will really challenge him

  11. Hard to go against Zuckerbucks, vote-tracking schemes, ballot-harvesting and the massive public sector union GOTV schemes.

    Now the unions know if their members voted or not – so there is the pain of punishment if union members do not vote, and the public sector is a huge source of employment in this state.

    Unions have a direct, immediate and existential interest in election outcomes: their jobs, contracts, perks, pensions and friends in high places. That is what the GOP must compete against.

    Public sector unions want to sit on both sides of the bargaining table when it comes to handing out those jobs, perks, benefits and pensions. Taxpayer revolt is the only solution to break this public sector union power. Large businesses leaving the state and draining out tax revenues is one form of tax revolt, and it is catching Newsom’s attention. The dollars lost to the state are huge; but the actual votes they control is very small.

  12. Top 1% control nearly 50% of all state tax revenues. Bad state policies are causing many to flee, and taking projected state revenues with them.

    However, the actual voting power of these top 10% is limited in actually ballot numbers, so this major fiscal defection from California does not show up in the ballot box. My one vote cancels out Mark Zuckerberg’s one vote.

    Only when the top 1% philosophically turns against the Democrat deep state majority and leaves California, and/or start supporting more conservative state governing principles, will there be any hope for change in this state

  13. I was hoping for better from Dahle, but sadly he doesn’t seem to have the fire required to take on the smarmy likes of cocky, smooth Newsom. Candidates like Dahle should study the strategies and skills of strong Republicans before they even start. There is SO MUCH to throw at Gavin Newsom that it just makes me think Dahle is lazy and complacent to not be prepared for everything to be stacked against him in the debate. And why didn’t his campaign manager demand a neutral seating arrangement in order to go forward with the debate? I mean this is liberal California and a radical, underhanded politician he’s taking on.

    And the CAGOP is absolutely useless. I emailed them to ask why they’re not working to get Dahle out there in the public eye. I received no answer, then I started getting a lot of their pathetic emails. My niece got involved working with the CAGOP about 10 years ago. There is a lot of dysfunction within that is seriously hindering any real work across the state. There are factions from both Northern and Southern California who disagree and kill any possibility of consensus and statewide strategy. Until that gets sorted out CAGOP will remain useless.

    But I’m still praying for a miracle.

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