Meg Whitman Snagged on Her Own Border Fence

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Meg Whitman, the GOP gubernatorial front-runner in California, apparently doesn’t watch her own exteremly expensive political ads. The former EBay CEO and billioniare insisted to Politico this week that her ads don’t contain shots of a border fence, then had to be corrected by her press secretary. The embarassing exchange has been the joke of the day on California’s political blogs. San Francisco Chronicle‘s Joe Garofili offered Whitman his first anual Rene Magritte award, named after the creator of the “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” painting. “Perhaps Meg was merely channeling Magritte in saying that there wasn’t a border fence in her ad,” he wrote. “It was an IMAGE of a border fence in her ad.”

Image of border fence in Whitman adImage of border fence in Whitman adOn the serious side, the exchange points to several potential liabilities for Whitman as she vies to lead the tarnished Golden State. She has a strong incentive to appeal to the anti-immigration sentiments of her GOP primary voters, who support Arizona’s draconian immigration crackdown. In this sense the border fence is a powerful code, but it also alienates Latinos, who make up 37 percent of the state’s population. To win in the general election, she’ll need to convince some 30 percent of the state’s Latinos to vote for her.

The gaffe also adds fuel to the sense that Whitman, who is worth $1.4 billion, is out of touch with the state and her own campaign. The $80 million that she’s already shelled out during the primary is a record for California, yet her more conservative primary opponent, Steve Poizner, has drastically closed on her in recent days (UPDATE: She’s widened the lead again). Given how many political ads Whitman has been running, it’s possible that she hasn’t been able to keep track of what they’re saying. That can’t be good for a candidate with a campaign theme of governmental accountability.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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