Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Morning after Arnold went down

This morning California's newspapers put photos of Governor Schwarzenegger on the front pages, even in abject defeat. They should have pictured the voters, or if they could have found the image for it, the process of a freewheeling election itself.

Because Schwarzenegger took on the public employee unions, he didn't have the usual advantage that bullying pols enjoy: there was a force with money and people power to contest him. And in a fairer than usual fight, Californians said no to a rightwing celebrity's power grab, yes to education and social services, yes to unions being able to contest corporate power and even, as a bonus, yes to young women's right to choose.

The morning's headlines were indeed sweet; self-indulgently, I'll round up some tidbits here:

Voters Reject Schwarzenegger's Bid to Remake State Government -- Los Angeles Times

"Schwarzenegger put in $7.2 million of his own money. That brings his total personal spending on political endeavors to $25 million since he ran for governor in the 2003 recall race."

This governor role has proven to be an expensive hobby.

Why His 'Sequel' Failed to Captivate -- Los Angeles Times

"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday met the limits of his celebrity: Even a campaign built around his action-star persona could not persuade voters to embrace his 'year of reform' agenda."

"A Republican strategist and occasional Schwarzenegger advisor put it more bluntly Tuesday, saying privately: 'The act is getting stale.'"

Enough with the actors already. California faces real problems; let's get on with solving them.

Schwarzenegger faces 'resounding defeat'-- San Jose Mercury News

"Elizabeth Garrett, who directs the USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics [said] 'It means that, Wednesday morning, he is an ordinary Republican governor working with a Democratic Legislature in California -- no stronger, no weaker.'''

That's pretty weak; the current districting of the legislature ensures that Democrats will remain in large majorities throughout this decade.

Analysis: A bruising blow from 'the people' -- Sacramento Bee

Gale Kaufman, who presided over the multimillion-dollar campaign that brought the governor to his knees, said his political recovery won't be that easy.

"'I think he comes out of this election ... deeply damaged, and really in a very different place," she said. "Just waking up again and saying, 'Today I'm back to the middle,' doesn't make it so. He's lost the ability to just keep changing and having people believe it."

He always did seem to be an actor with only one character.

CALIFORNIANS SAY NO TO SCHWARZENEGGER-- San Francisco Chronicle [Full caps are the Chron's.]

"This must be the worst defeat the governor has ever had,'' said Kevin Spillane, a GOP consultant. "It's not like having a movie that underperforms. … Now, we have to see how he deals with defeat.''

I'll hazard a prediction here: Arnold will pull out of the governor's race if it looks like a fight for him. I hope the unions and the Democrats in Sacramento don't let up now. Californians deserve better and yesterday they proved they know it.

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