Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown: ‘This will be somewhat of an asymmetrical encounter’

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a university in Paris on Dec. 9, 2015.
Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a university in Paris on Dec. 9, 2015. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

On his final night in Paris, Gov. Jerry Brown found a lecture hall, a room full of academics and a comparison to Christ.

Introducing the California governor for a speech on Thursday at Ecole Normale Superiure university, the French philosopher Jean-Pierre Dupuy recalled attending the funeral in Palo Alto last month of the philosopher René Girard.

Leaving the church, Dupuy said, “a middle-aged woman who was sitting there, obviously seriously handicapped – physically and perhaps mentally, too – asked Jerry Brown, who was passing by” to help her with her shoelaces.

Brown knelt down, he said, “in a position that conjured up, given the religious context, the image of Christ washing the feet of the disciples.”

Dupuy, a mutual friend of Brown and the late social critic Ivan Illich, said he heard a woman nearby say, “Isn’t that beautiful? This is the president that we should have. Why doesn’t he run for the White House?”

Brown, getting to the lectern, said, “I’ll tell you why I’m not running for president. I’ve already tried it three times. Three strikes and you’re out in California.”

Then the governor turned to his remarks, saying he was “a little intimidated here with all these scientists and intellectuals.”

“I know something about the past. I know a little bit about the present, and of course, nothing about the future,” Brown said. “So this will be somewhat of an asymmetrical encounter. You know all the numbers, and I have all the answers.”

Video: Gov. Jerry Brown, on his last night in Paris, addresses academics.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders