Friday, October 19, 2018

Gavin Newsom's cognitive issue

More on that Garofoli story in the Chronicle on Gavin Newsom:

Since childhood, Newsom has suffered from dyslexia, a learning disorder that makes reading difficult. Newsom rarely reads a speech on paper because he can easily lose his place. Reading off a teleprompter isn’t much better...Newsom now deals with it by taking an hour of preparation for every minute of a speech he gives. He has to memorize parts of it and riff off others. It’s “profoundly difficult,” he said.

How does Newsom inform himself on important issues if he can't, as this suggests, even read a newspaper---or briefing papers? Seems like he has to rely on staff and advisers before making a decision on public policy, which makes them almost as important as Newsom himself.

“I can intellectually deal with an issue, but I have to see it firsthand,” Newsom said. “You’re going to talk to me about homelessness, I have to get out on the streets. You’re going to talk to me about a project, I have to go out and see the site. All of the sudden then, it three-dimensionalizes and has completely different resonance and different meaning.”

That isn't reassuring. Seeing individual homeless people on the street may evoke compassion and suggest the need for government action, but it tells you nothing about the scope of the problem, its causes, or the possible cost to do something about it---or even about what kind of action might be effective.

Newsom apparently dealt with this issue effectively when he led the move to get Care Not Cash on the ballot in 2002 and then as mayor create some effective policies to mitigate homelessness in San Francisco.

Governor Newsom could visit the high-speed rail site pictured below, but what would that tell him? That, yes, the project is under construction, that maybe he should support it to get it done---and keep creating those jobs, since unions are supporting him and an important part of the Democratic Party's base---and supporters of this project. 

High-speed rail site near Fresno

Garofoli refers to half a dozen labor unions that support his election. Newsom responds:

“You think you can buy me? I promise you, given the opportunity I will prove to you you are wrong,” he said. “I am grateful for support. But it doesn’t change my point of view. What changes my point of view is facts and conditions.”

This suggests a naive sense of human psychology, as if massive support by the labor unions couldn't possibly influence his conscious decisions on union issues. I guess we'll see how that works out in practice.

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