Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Be careful what you ask for

Many prominent Republicans have eagerly jumped on the Arnold bandgwagon seeming to think that his victory will somehow broaden the party, particularly in California. Arnold professes to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative, although he has not discussed any tough fiscal medicine for his state. He states that California's deficit is proof that Davis has failed which is a message that could come back to bite Bush. As wrong as I think this recall is, however, I don't see the upside for which many Republicans hope. Arnold isn't on the verge of possibly, if not probably, becoming Governor because of his views. Perhaps the message is that an aging action movie star with big biceps is the strongest option the Republicans have, even if he is a serial misogynistic groper who routinely humiliates women for kicks and dreams of being hailed like Hitler, regardless of what crap comes out of his mouth. Exactly which demographic does Arnold bring into a mythical Republican big tent?

California is going to have to close a huge budget deficit next year and whoever is governor is not likely to be popular regardless of what his or her past box office totals may have been. As an office-holder, the gloves will be off in regard to Arnold, and he should be prepared for regular stories from those in his past, as well as law suits. And so should California. Should Arnold win, and I think the chance for recall has lessened significantly in recent days, the circus is really just beginning. For him to win re-election in a two-person race he will need to have had strong success, which seems unlikely.

Should Bush choose to embrace Arnold, any of Arnold's "positives" will not flow to Bush or any other Republican. He is not about party or platform. More likely is that true conservatives will lose enthusiasm for those who have trampled over McClintock in their embrace of the former body builder. Come next November you are likely to have an unpopular Republican President who sees no benefit in any close alignment with a scandal-plagued unpopular California Governor who never gets above a 50% approval rating.

As bad as this recall is for Democracy, it probably isn't bad for Democrats, even in California. Arnold may think he's gonna be the new sheriff in town, but he will also be the new whipping boy.

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