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Election year irony: Schwarzenegger grasping McClintock’s coattails

Since Schwarzenegger started campaigning in 2003, he has been forced to
contribute $20 million plus of his own money into his campaigns, and after
being caught by the Los Angeles Times in a secret tabloid magazine deal, he
gave up a lucrative $8 million contract.

Schwarzenegger’s life is no longer “fantastic.”

The best evidence of Schwarzenegger’s predicament was at the Republican
State Convention last weekend. Schwarzenegger, who got only 48.6 percent of
the vote in the Recall–51 percent did not vote for him–had signs up about
his new “team.” No, not his Bush/Cheney staff team, but Arnold and Tom (Tom
McClintock, who got only 13.5 percent of the vote in the Recall election).

So the guy who won the election is now hanging onto Tommy’s suspenders.

Let’s review some of what has happened to Schwarzenegger’s political career
since the fall of 2003. First the Republican base did not vote for
Schwarzenegger, they voted against Democrat Gray Davis, just like they had
done in the November 2002 governor’s race.

I remember seeing former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson tell the story about
the morning after his dad was defeated after serving just one term as
governor. Al was having breakfast at a diner and in the next booth were two
old guys; one of them said, “we got rid of that Simpson,” and the other guy
said “yeah, but who did we elect”? The first guy replied, “I don’t know, but
we got rid of that Simpson.”

In the recall, the Republican base knew who Schwarzenegger was, but they
never had any real love for him. Schwarzenegger, with his incurable
vanity–from the Latin word vanus meaning “empty, without substance”–believed
otherwise.

For over 30 years, Schwarzenegger has surrounded himself with gawking,
star-struck staff–the ones who brag at cocktails parties that they work for
Arnold and can get you an autograph. So with his new “supportive” staff,
Schwarzenegger concluded that he could say whatever he wanted, even changing
positions 180 degrees in a 24-hour period.

I don’t need to rehash the list of all the people, legislators and groups
that Schwarzenegger attacked. Basically, they formed the ABC Coalition last
year in response to Schwarzenegger’s challenge–“do what I tell you or I go
to the people.” The Special Election took Schwarzenegger down to his
Austrian shorts. As Gale Kaufman said the next day, “Schwarzenegger lost!”

Since last November, the consultants who argued that the special was a
brilliant strategy have spent their time blaming Schwarzenegger for fumbling
or the big corporations for not coughing up enough money. With
Schwarzenegger hiring a new staff, people wondered if this is all part of
his new “strategy.” It’s as much a “strategy” as how a bear reacts when its
paw is caught in a trap.

This new team is full of anti-choice zealots and putting journalists on the
payroll in Iraq and at the White House, and taping phone calls without
judicial review.

Some Republicans have argued that, yes, there is a lot of disarray within
the Republican ranks about Schwarzenegger’s behavior on staff, issues,
appointments and announcements, but they say where else can they go?
Well, San Bernardino had only a 43 percent turnout in the special election
while San Francisco had a 53 percent turnout-three points higher than the
statewide average. Republicans do have another place to go-shopping, instead
of voting.


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