May 04, 2006

Is Ahnold Back?

George Skelton suggests the Terminator is on the comeback trail:

As the Democratic candidates battle each other for their party's nomination, the Republican governor is quietly healing his wounds and moving into better position to run for reelection.

Skelton says Schwarzenegger is getting help from Democrats in the state legislature on his bond proposal because "Democratic lawmakers care less about hurting their party's future gubernatorial nominee than they do about polishing their own image, which is even more tarnished than the governor's."

RELATED: Marc Cooper just posted a nifty bit in LA Weekly detailing the weekend he spent "hanging out with the party hacks in Sacramento" at the convention of the California Democratic Party. Says Cooper, " it's worth spending a few days a year ambling around like a zombie just to remind yourself how utterly brain-dead both major political parties are."

November 11, 2005

Quote of the Day - November 11

"It's always easy to look back. As a matter of fact, you know, if I would do another Terminator movie, I would have Terminator travel back in time to tell Arnold not to have a special election. ... I should have also listened to my wife, who said to me 'Don't do this.' But anyway, the bottom line is we did it, the bottom line is that we didn't win. See how I'm making this glass half-full? We didn't win. We lost. The bottom line is that we've just got to go and now, look at the reality of this (and) shift gears, because in the end, remember I came up here for one reason, and this is to serve the people of California." - Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday's election defeat.


November 10, 2005

Is Arnold Finished?

Yesterday I suggested that the results from the three big races on the east coast (VA, NJ, and NYC) proved nothing about the 2006 political prospects for either Republicans or Democrats. Arnold's defeat in California this week is another story.

Schwarzenegger was the king of the political world 2 years ago when he swept the politically moribund Gray Davis out of office and browbeat and intimidated Democratic legislators over the next year. But just like President Bush, the last 12 months have not been kind to the actor-turned-Governor.

Arnold is getting plenty advice on how he can turn things around. Conservative Hugh Hewitt suggests Arnold needs to remember that he is a Republican Governor and does need conservative support to succeed:

There is no such thing as a fusion candidate, no such thing as a bipartisan campaign or a non-partisan issue, and come election night, there are just two parties, one at the GOP HQ and one at the Dem HQ. There's a winners' party and a losers' party. Last night you were
speaking to the losers' party........

As Nixon often remarked: You can't win with just the conservatives, but you cannot win without them...

So you've got to get serious about winning in '06, and that means getting serious about the GOP base......

I don't doubt that you are more energized than ever and ready for a knock-down 12 months.

It is going to be sweet to win re-election, especially after all the doom-sayers on this Wednesday morning, but you can't get there with the tactics or the team of 2005.....

You're the producer and the director. Change the script. Change everything. Or go back to making movies in 15 months.

In many ways this is good advice (you should read the whole post to see the specific proposals Hewitt outlines). However complicating this advice is:
1) California is not exactly a hard-core Conservative state, and
2) a politician shouldn't try and be something he is not. It would be a mistake for Schwarzenegger to try and push conservative social issues when everyone knows he is a libertarian who is liberal or agnostic on most social issues.

According to LA Weekly, his wife Maria Shriver "wants him to move back to the bipartisan center." This may sound good to some of the Governor's advisors but that is where Hewitt is right, the mushy middle isn't going to work when your political opponents are out to terminate you. The Bloomberg approach will not work in California, especially if Schwarzenegger actually wants to do something in office, as opposed to just get reelected.

Arnold needs to re-fashion himself as a populist Governor who wants to make California work again. There is nothing wrong with picking smart fights, over issues that matter, with the liberal special interests. And the fights have to be with the Democratic base, because he needs Republicans and conservatives to be enthusiastic about his Governorship.

He needs to turn his defeat this week into a positive. Go back to work, try and get some real reform done with the Legislature, and if he can't go back to the people in 2006. Don't apologize, don't sugar coat the facts, tell the voters what they don't want to hear. Tell them that you tried to reform the system to make the state government work in 2005, and work your hardest to get real reforms done in 2006 and if you don't, run unapologetically against your liberal opponents.

I am not suggesting that he should just ignore what happened this week and not try and make good faith efforts to compromise where he can with his opponents. If he is able to get something of consequence agreed to, great for California, and he will win reelection in a walk. But, if there is no real compromise to be had, he has to be willing to go to the mat another time.

Give the people a choice between real populist reform vs. status quo liberal interest group politics in Sacramento. Make it clear that this is what is in the best interest of California, that you have no political ambitions, that you can't be President, and if you lose you'll just go back to your sad life as a multi-millionaire Hollywood mega-star.

In some ways California voters were able to have their cake and eat it to in this election. They said no to all of Arnold's changes but they still get to keep Schwarzenegger in the statehouse as a counterbalance to the special interests. Don't give the voters that option in 2006, make them choose between going down the road with you or a Bustamante/Gray Davis look alike and the Sacramento Democrats.

If this sounds like a re-run of what we just saw, maybe it is in some ways. But it's better to have lost in the pre-season this past Tuesday than in the post-season next November. Make the necessary adjustments and get back on the field.