Christine Jones’ 2015 Plan Uses Same ‘Hook’ As Tucson Mayor Rothschild’s
As many Arizonans and keen observers of politics around the country are no doubt aware, gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones has had her share of controversy.
Not long ago, she claimed that she had served in the Air Force and worked as a prosecutor in Los Angeles, when in fact she had participated in the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Oklahoma and had been an unpaid law clerk in Los Angeles more than a decade ago. Like so many other politicians who have attempted resumé enhancement, she got caught when the facts inevitably came to light.
Last year, as a newcomer hoping to burnish conservative credentials viewed with skepticism by many among Arizona’s GOP primary electorate, she made a well-publicized and somewhat inelegant attempt to cozy up to Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Awkwardness aside, the event may have passed relatively unnoticed where it not for a series of statements from Jones that were so demonstrably false (and yet so easily researched!) as to defy explanation.
(The spectacle of a candidate whose normal conversational verbiage is peppered with easily exposed falsehoods is well-known to Republicans, many of whom shudder to recall John Kerry’s “magic hat” of 2004 or the serial fabulations of Al Gore in 2000, which were so absurd that Hugh Hewitt actually set them to music.)
But now, Jones has landed in yet another awkward situation.
Back in late 2013, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild “marked his second anniversary in office by unveiling his new two-year plan” to improve conditions in and the economic prospects of Arizona’s second-largest city. The headline the Rose Law Group Reporter chose was “Tucson mayor’s new economic plan swaps 5 C’s for 5 T’s.”
Well, Christine Jones is out with her plan for 2015, and it looks like she has saved the folks at the Rose Law Group Reporter from having to come up with a new headline. For indeed, “Christine Jones’ new economic plan swaps 5 C’s for 5 T’s” is a perfectly apt description for the plan Jones recently unveiled.
From Rothschild’s plan:
Remember Arizona’s Five C’s? Tucson’s economy has Five T’s.
From Jones’ plan:
Remember where we came from: The 5 Cs. Cast a vision for the future: The 5 Ts
Rothschild’s 5 Ts are these:
Jones’ 5 Ts are strikingly similar:
A quick look at Jones’ “training” and Rothschild’s “teaching” reveals that both refer to education. Thus, only one of the “Ts” differs between the Tucson mayor and the gubernatorial hopeful: trade vs. taxation. That’s quite a set of similarities.
In a primary election, one of the most important characteristics a candidate can display is sincerity. The primary electorate is largely comprised of the base of the candidate’s party: higher-propensity voters who adhere to a set of core values and first principles. They are looking for candidates in whom they perceive that same commitment.
But this similarity between Jones’ plan and Rothschild’s makes Jones’ feel a lot less sincere. Granted, the verbiage that describes the five Ts is different in each plan. But let’s face it, the Remember Arizona’s 5 Cs? Now here’s the 5 Ts is the memorable part of both plans. To use a musical term, it’s the “hook”—that little bit of melody and lyrics that sticks with you long after the song has stopped playing.
Imagine you set out to write a song, and the first two notes were a descending minor third and the first two words were “Hey Jude . . . .” It wouldn’t much matter what notes came next: that’s the hook of a four-decades-old Beatles song, and everyone knows it.
In much the same way, Rothschild’s plan has been out for quite some time, by political and news standards. Why would a high-profile candidate for Arizona governor take the “hook” of someone else’s plan for her own? The most charitable reading is that it’s lazy. It’s also sloppy, given the fact that the plan from which she got her hook was that of a politician from the same state in which she herself is running for office. Did the Jones team really think this would not get discovered?
Jones might see this and retort that the similarity is merely an homage—that it is good practice to take ideas that have worked elsewhere and apply them to new situations. And that would be just fine . . . if she had given Mayor Rothschild credit. She did not. Instead, she did something that treads awfully close to the definition my New Oxford American Dictionary gives for the dreaded P-word:
verb [ with obj. ]
take (the work or an idea of someone else) and pass it off as one’s own.
Even if we are charitable and refrain from applying that term, Jones’ use of Rothschild’s hook certainly lacks originality. Jones’ plan is visually pleasing, with a clean layout, modern typeface, and soaring language. But those features only serve to enhance the feeling that this campaign may be more about vanity to this former GoDaddy exec than about service to the people of Arizona. The hollow sound of style over substance.
Throughout her plan, Jones hits notes and uses terms clearly calibrated to appeal to the conservative voters who tend to make up a large percentage of the Republican primary electorate. Unfortunately, given her record, and these recent revelations, it’s hard to know what is actual principle and what is just convenient rhetoric.
Republican primary voters may take a look at this latest matter and conclude that Jones’ certitudes need to be taken with a healthy grain of salt.