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August 15, 2003

Getting Used to Arnold

I am beginning to believe that Arnold (I'm going to call him this in writing from now on) may be the future of the Republican party. I'm not sure if I'm happy with this but I am adjusting my expectations to deal with it.

I have an attraction / repulsion to the Republican Party because it knows, above all, how to make things happen. They are brazen, single-minded and fierce. They bulldog as soon as they have the opportunity. They are purposeful and resolute. These aspects of tenacity would be extraordinarily good for the country if the Republicans applied consistently on behalf of actually good ideas. Instead, Republicans are all about building momentum and weight in their express train, but they are less than choosy about what fills their baggage compartments and adds mass to their momentum.

The Religious Right and the vaguely dissatisfied middle therefore find the Republican Party to be the right way to take their various ideas and get somewhere. The Republican Party gets them to the station on time.

I have issues with the rabble in the Big Tent, but that's an ongoing war that doesn't frustrate. But I understand something about the Republican Party which is that despite what the staunchest paleos will say, they will carry the freight of Arnold. The Republican Party depends so much on mindless catchphrases and 'common sense' that doesn't really matter who is in the driver's seat. Dennis Hastert, George W. Bush, Tom Delay, George Pataki, William Bennett, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, JC Watts. These people have nothing in common but the train they rode in on. Arnold only has to have the merest sliver of brains to understand what to do. Picture him in Reaganesque cowboy duds standing on the cab of a reigned locomotive. Ride 'em cowboy.

I'm taking Barnum's position here. It's not so important what Arnold's ideas are, the idea of Arnold is too big to lose. The signing on of Warren Buffet is a masterstroke. Understand that Arnold only has to express the rudiments of public speaking in order to carry credibility. So long as he has masterminds behind him, all will be well, right? We used to call that 'shadow government'. Now we call it the Bush administration. Its perils should be self-evident, but as an election strategy, it works.

Arnold can be elected to fix the budget crisis. If Buffet does his job, then Arnold will be able to boldly pronounce exactly what fudging California business cannot do. Buffet can and may even publicly masticate those Republicans who continue to pound their one note of a tax rebate in every pot. As an outsider with the clout Buffet carries, Arnold has a good shot at fixing the budget mess. Hopefully, he will do so with some style which will demonstrate how phlegmatic the California Legislature has been in its back and forth over car registration fees.

All of that optimism that doesn't stop me from worrying very much about other issues we know about, and those future crises we cannot predict. We more or less elected GWBush to be a compassionate conservative. Were it not for Ashcroft and Osama, it might have been exactly what the nation needed. I do not give Arnold the benefit of the doubt for doing anything good for California that he cannot predict. Buffet makes him, as well as his outsider status, the candidate for fiscal reform. If that were all California needed, we could all sleep soundly under Governor Arnold.

There may be something to what Novak said of Arnold. If he is inheriting Wilson staffers and coming out for 187, we may be back to the bad old days of ugly racial politics. That makes for a huge liability, given that Arnold himself is an immigrant. Beware his English chauvinism.

Whatever you may say about Arnold, he is not a tool of the Religious Right. He is a moderate Republican by litmus testing. He may have all the skills of a Pataki. It may not matter. He has got the money, he is on the right train, and he only has a small electoral hurdle to pass. I'm going to have a lot of fun watching the Republican Party heel to his leash.

The question remains. Is Riordan dead?

Posted by mbowen at August 15, 2003 03:49 PM

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Ok Cobb, I'm prepared to admit it on your blog. I am a Democrat born and raised. Now with that said, I think this whole recall thing is a joke. I never like Ah-Nuld's films and I dont like his smiling face, hand shaking, talk ahow appearence brand of politicing. Then I stop and think... he is no different than other politicians, but he is different. He isn't a public servant. He has never been an elected offical and he thinks he should jump right into GOVERNOR? I think not.

PS. I have posted your link on my blog. :)

Posted by: Liz at August 16, 2003 04:20 PM

Thanks for the link.

I don't like Arnold as a politician, and I don't believe he can think his way out of a crisis. But he's got George Schultz behind him and he couldn't possibly be worse than Jesse Ventura. Arnold can be very popular with Californians if he plays up his role in working with kids to get and keep them healthy. He'll be an anti-smoking, anti-drug, clean living kind of candidate, naturally.

I am most interested in his effect on the Republican party. He's pro-choice and he's not a religious bigot. Let's see how much tolerance and respect he has for that wing of the party.

One latino group has already beaned him with 187, so as I said, he's got that strike to deal with. Plus, he apparently sold out Riordan, and I don't like that. But if he beats Simon and McClintock, that's all good. So that's what I'm more interested in than if he wins the governors seat.

Let me also add, as I will elaborate further, that he needs to moderate the kneejerk no new taxes mantra of Republicans. It just may be that only an outsider can do that. So Warren Buffet is right about Prop 13, and Arnold ought to stick close to that line.

I REALLY want to hear where he comes down on health care. You know he takes health seriously. I bet Bill Simon understands that.

Posted by: Cobb at August 16, 2003 04:46 PM

Arnold is in tune with the current republican line. Bigger government, which was formerly bad, is now good. Higher taxes, which were also formerly bad, can be good. Bans on (previously) lawfully owned firearms, or for that matter a ban on all firearms, can also be good.

Anything can be good, so long as a republican is in office it AND there is a war on.

I've voted GOP for the most part, but now I have to question exactly what it is they stand for. For years they said "deficit spending bad, tax cuts good". Well the rebate is borrowed money, we've racked up a nice little deficit and despite the passage of 70 years time we've yet to win the "war on drugs". Remember, folks, when prohibition ended we faced thousands of unemployed federal agents. Gotta do SOMETHING.

Now we've got a "war on terror" ADDED to the "war on drugs". Personally I think it's time we start considering at least a cease fire, if not a more intelligent approach to both.

Posted by: Mighty Quinn at September 6, 2003 11:05 PM