By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
As we embark on the Era of Arnold, here are 10 delightful and appalling, often delightfully appalling, things to mark the occasion:
1 No More Gray Davis Joy Rides
Conservatives would say that the Davis joy rides of the last five years involved spending tens of billions of dollars that the state didn’t actually have. Well, there is that, but this is more literal. It’s been reported that the former governor, limo’d around for years by his California Highway Patrol security detachment, has to get a driver’s license and re-learn how to drive. If he takes a road test, he’ll excel on terrorist evasive maneuvers. As governor, Davis took his state car out for license-free and security-free joy rides for years. Such undisciplined behavior by the notoriously disciplined governor might surprise a few people. It probably could have won him a few votes if people had only known.
2 No More “Puke Politics”
Democratic Attorney General Bill Lockyer coined the lasting phrase to describe the down-in-the-gutter style of attack-dog politics that accompanied many of the Democratic victories of the ’90s, especially those of Davis. With his admitted record of obnoxious behavior, Schwarzenegger represented the biggest target for such politics to date. None of it worked; in fact, Field Poll director Mark di Camillo says his research shows it all backfired, and so the attack dogs bay no more.
3 Stupidest Argument Against the Recall
This ends up a two-way tie. Most liberal pols and journos intoned that a special election to recall the sitting governor of California and replace him with God knows who would draw a very low turnout of voters and disenfranchise many. In reality, the recall turnout was 61 percent, the highest in 20 years. Then some argued that the recall would cost too much. In the totality of real life, $60 million was a small price to pay compared to three other numbers: $78 million raised for Davis’ re-election, the $38 billion state budget deficit, and $44 billion in long-term electric-power contracts negotiated in panic at the height of the market. Game over.
4 Stupidest Argument for
One thing comes immediately to mind. “We must recall Gray Davis in order to stop this spending of the money that the state of Kah-lee-fohr-nyah does not have.” Who said that? Why, our beloved (in many quarters) new governor — who didn’t mention that massive borrowing was also at the core of his budget plan. A minor oversight. I know, Governor, in the future there will not be such overspending. We’re not there yet.
5 That Nice Jim Brulte
Talking with one of the Arnold haters in the press corps at the Schwarzenegger inaugural, I was struck by how much she likes Senate Republican leader Jim Brulte and dislikes Schwarzenegger. Brulte is a great big seemingly cuddly teddy bear of a pol, given to off-the-record asides that suggest he’s not part of the crazy right-wing thing. Perhaps not. But he is the man who stopped any Republican from voting for any tax increase this year, which was key to destabilizing the Davis governorship. And he just played a critical role in blocking any compromise with Democrats on Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget spending cap, which may lead to tough new budget cuts. We’ll see if he reaches the end of his term before the press, which knows far more Democrats than Republicans and needs Brulte as a source, catches on that he really may be a right-wing kind of guy.
6 Arianna STILL Running Against Arnold
She had several different positions on the recall before coming out against it again as she finally campaigned with Gray Davis on his chartered jet. But throughout it all, Arianna Huffington stayed focused on one man: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now she will focus on him in her new book — Fanatics, Fools, and Alpha Males(formerly just Fanatics and Fools, for the Republicans and Democrats, respectively) — as Bush Jr., or something worse, comes to California. All of this will come as something of a surprise to the Bush administration, which finds itself at loggerheads with Schwarzenegger on environmental and social issues.
7 Worst Polling Information
That would be the Los Angeles Times, whose polls consistently clashed with the private polls relied on by the Democrats and Republicans and with the other major public polls, and whose alternate universe–style coverage of the campaign may have left many of its trusting readers dumbfounded.
8 The Truth About the
Arnold Schwarzenegger loves cigars. Now he’s passing them out to Democratic legislators, buddying up to them in between bouts of his veteran Republican staffers attacking them. But if the most famous Austrian since the von Trapp family and the little house-painter fellow is really such a cigar aficionado — which happens to be the name of the magazine to which he has given his most in-depth political interview — then why does his cigar shop in Santa Monica offer only paper matches? Any true connoisseur knows that only wooden matches will do, that the chemicals in paper matches adulterate the pure tobacco experience of a premium cigar. So, Mr. S, enlighten us.
9 Arnold’s Dumbest Idea