In a move that can only be described as peak political theater, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) chose to deliver his annual State of the State Address via a pre-recorded video on social media rather than the traditional route of appearing before a joint session of state lawmakers. Theatrics aside, what really stood out was Newsom’s remarkable ability to dodge any mention of California’s staggering budget deficits.

California is grappling with a $27.6 billion budget shortfall for the fiscal year 2023-2024 and is projected to face a $28.4 billion deficit for FY 2025-2026. Instead of addressing these pressing financial woes, Newsom conveniently glossed over them, claiming he had resolved the current debt and balanced the budget. The governor’s silence on these issues would be comical if it weren’t so alarming.

Rather than focus on the significant fiscal challenges facing his state, Newsom devoted a considerable portion of his address to lambasting red states and conservative media. He accused Republican governors and lawmakers of pandering to their bases with “distorted prisms of political pandering,” slashing healthcare benefits, and imposing restrictive reproductive rights policies on women. Newsom painted a dystopian picture of red states, accusing them of enacting “draconian policies” and forcing assault victims to “give birth to their rapist’s babies.”

Of course, no Newsom tirade would be complete without a swipe at conservatives’ handling of gun violence, despite nationwide crime statistics showing a decline. He decried the “wall-to-wall media coverage about lawless blue cities and blue states,” asserting that California lawmakers take public safety seriously and approach it as a problem in need of a solution rather than a sensationalized news story.

The governor didn’t stop there. He blasted red states for their approach to immigration and accused conservatives of attempting to “roll back social progress, racial justice, and basic fundamental fairness.” This laundry list of grievances sounded more like a campaign speech than an honest assessment of California’s current state.

It’s almost laughable how Newsom’s address was more about scoring political points and less about addressing the real issues plaguing California. By focusing his ire on red states and conservative policies, he conveniently sidestepped the critical problems at home. The state’s residents are left wondering how their leader plans to navigate through the fiscal mess and address the challenges that directly impact their lives.

If this address was intended to reassure Californians, it failed spectacularly. Instead, it highlighted Newsom’s penchant for deflecting blame and pointing fingers, rather than offering concrete solutions to the state’s dire financial situation. One has to wonder if Newsom is more interested in his own political future than in effectively governing California.

In summary, Newsom’s State of the State Address was a masterclass in political deflection and grandstanding. He artfully avoided discussing California’s massive budget deficits, instead choosing to attack red states and conservative media. As the 2024 election approaches, Californians should be asking themselves if they want a leader who prioritizes political theater over substantive governance.