Skip to comments.From One Extreme to Another - Schwarzenegger’s Strategy of Capitulation
Posted on 12/08/2005 3:42:01 PM PST by NormsRevenge
In the wake of the voters stinging repudiation of all four ballot measures he backed in the costly and contentious Nov. 8 special election, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is working feverishly to regain his political footing. In a recent staff shake-up, the Governors chief of staff, Republican Pat Clarey, announced her resignation.
But in choosing her successor, Governor Schwarzenegger has made one of the biggest mistakes of his political career. He has selected Susan Kennedy, a former top aide to recalled Governor Gray Davis and former executive director of the California Democratic Party and of the California Abortion Rights Action League, as Clareys replacement.
No doubt reaching out to the Democrats who dominate the state legislature is the motive behind Kennedys hiring. Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata seems delighted with the choice, asserting that its a statement to the people the governor feels he most needs to work with to move an agenda.
But the choice is an ominous sign that Schwarzenegger has decided that moving an agenda any agenda is more important than fighting for the platform on which he was elected. It smacks of political cowardice a calculation that virtual surrender to his political enemies is the only way that Schwarzenegger can salvage his credibility and popularity, while earning bragging rights for legislative accomplishments, whatever their content.
Schwarzeneggers strategy is doomed to fail. Democrats and special interests destroyed his popularity in the run-up to the special election through a relentlessly negative and inaccurate advertising campaign. Then they handed him a humiliating defeat on Election Day. Theres no reason to believe that the Democrats will call a truce now no matter who Schwarzenegger chooses as his chief of staff. They want a Democrat in the Governors chair someone who shares their philosophy of bigger government, higher taxes and unlimited giveaways to the unions and other special interests that subsidize the party. Even if the Governor offers them 90%, theres no reason for them not to prefer the candidate that will offer them 100%.
By rolling over for the Democrats like a well-trained puppy, Schwarzenegger loses much more than the respect and support of his Republican base. Susan Kennedy isn't just an liberal Democrat activist shes also an emblem of the administration of the reviled Gray Davis. By choosing her as his chief of staff, Schwarzenegger has not only symbolically embraced the unpopular man he defeated, he has also eroded the distinctions between himself and the corrupt and sclerotic Democratic political establishment of California squandering the outsider status that has been one of his chief assets.
He thereby forfeits his best strategy for regaining the confidence and political support of Californias voters. Rather than simply capitulating to the Democrats, Schwarzenegger would be better served by choosing a few simple but popular issues and speaking directly to voters with simple, unscripted messages, educating them about his positions and helping them understand just how out of touch, unreasonable (and greedy) the Democrats and special interests really are.
Schwarzenegger should begin by resisting calls from the predictable left-wing interest groups to commute four-time murderer and Crips founder Stanley Tookie Williams death sentence, and then explain why justice requires it. He should make sure Californians know that he recently vetoed legislation that would have given drivers licenses to illegal immigrants a law passed in defiance of Californians explicit wishes. He should continue to denounce the excessive benefits flowing to state government employees and point out how those dollars could make a difference in financing infrastructure repair and paying down Californias debt. And he should emphasize his support for party-blind, color-blind redistricting reform contrasting his position with an emerging Democratic plan requiring special recognition for communities of interest, an infinitely elastic term that would allow boundary drawers to use any arbitrary classification (from race to geographic similarity) as a guiding principle in creating legislative districts.
Taking an incremental approach to showing Californians why his policies are superior to the Democrats lacks the drama of the bold political strokes the Governor apparently prefers. But the strategy can be effective over time. The Governor has more weapons in his political arsenal than he apparently believes he does chiefly, the fame and charisma that allow him to speak to voters over legislators heads, especially now, with the election season over and done.
But it seems that Schwarzenegger has veered from one extreme to another. Having lost with a strategy of aggressive confrontation toward Democrats, he appears to have adopted an approach calling for abject capitulation to them. The sad facts are that his new plan wont work any better than his old one did and that his new chief of staff is hardly likely to confront him with this tough but unavoidable truth.
Maybe Arnie should have cut his political teeth on a school board or two first. Anyone still up for "President Arnie"?
This is the heart of the article. The rest is just one person's opinion of coulda, woulda, shoulda.
Libeau is insightful in her assessment that Schwarzenegger is for bigger government, higher taxes and unlimited giveaways to unions. She's also correct that Schwarzenegger has steadfastly withheld that 10% to keep up his appearances with the Republican Party.
Taken in this light and analyzing the Austrian's past performances savvy political observers will note that Schwarzenegger's whole agenda has focused on emphasizing that 10% to maintain his base while actively giving away 90% of the store.
Or if they find a new Gray Davis, 125%.
If he grants clemency, stick a fork in him, he's done.
$15B in bonds on a $111B budget is almost 115%. Closer than Libeau's 90%
Now that's funny.
Whatever Schwarzenegger's decision in the William's case it should not be part of your political equation unless you are reasonably certain that his decision was motivated by political gain.
He's done either way. Arnold was never anything but a semi-amusing distraction for California politics. There was never any chance of him going any further and, at this point, not much chance of a second term. Phony Catholic, phony Republican movie actor. Finis.
If you folks didn't catch this, it is worth a read.
Sometimes there is the one phrase that just says it all!!!
Why is it I so rarely hear about Democrats "reaching out" to Republicans? Is it because they have the strength of their convictions?
Spot on I couldn't have said it better myself. Only Frank Duclos has said it so well.
If you sleep with pigs, you'll wind up smelling like one.
It's not a "mistake". He's just stupid.
Thank you! I've become Ping dependent!!! (grin)
He's "done" anyway! Or haven't you noticed? It's sayanora Scwartzie!!!
Suspicions confirmed. If only it were "Party above principle", but it's far worse--"No principles at all".
And some on FR were advocating a special amendment to let this phony foreigner run for president. Somehow, I think the chances of that happening have plunged to record lows.