My perfect candidate, of course, would posses a character of moral clarity and confidence, a high IQ, advanced degrees in political science, economics and the liberal arts, a loving spouse and adoring children, courage, conviction and passion, along with the wit of Wil Rodgers and the résumé of Gray Davis. Unfortunately, when Eve spat the first worm from the first apple, she gave us the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the world.
The question you must ask yourself — should my vote be based on whether I like the man, or whether I think the man can do more good than ill?
Character matters, but in a world where no candidate is perfect, what matters more is getting the job done as well as possible, or getting the job done poorly.
And that’s what this recall election has come to.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that in a state as flawed as California, we have found ourselves in a quagmire of a recall election where there are no good choices, only a chance to escape a previous bad choice.
Today’s Times piece is devastating. It paints a dark picture of our future governor. He is a man who doesn’t root for the underdog, like most of us do; rather he teases and tortures the weak and the powerless. A.S., as many of us already knew, is on a lifelong power trip. The LAT story only highlights his women victims, but as has been reported elsewhere, Schwarzenegger has aperfected the art of the humiliating put down.
The question is, is that enough to disqualify him from office?
In the an election where the choices are: keep Davis in power, elevate Cruz Bustamante or cast a losing vote with Tom McClintock, I suspect many of us will need to hold our nose and vote for Schwarzenegger.
And that’s exactly what I expect to happen.
A lot of momentum has swung Arnold’s way in the last week. It’s not like people are going to be shocked by Arnold’s boorish behavior. The rumors have swirled far enough into the public consciousness for the last several weeks that Arnold’s apology, such as it was, will play well to the voters (which is most of them) who don’t actually read the LAT piece.
I’ve been somewhat dubious, and to some extent still am, that Arnold is a misogynist. I don’t think Maria Shriver, of all women, would remain married to (let along even date) such a man. But then, she’s his partner and equal. She may not see, or choose to ignore, the ways he treats people he considers his inferiors.
And it’s not like Gray Davis is any better on this issue. He may be our first imperial governor — a man whose nose is so permanently fixed high in the air that it competes with Mt. Whitney for highest pinnacle in the state. Dion Sanders is humble in comparison.
It’s also important to remember that whoever is governor come Oct. 8, he’ll largely be a puppet of a system that has become so bogged down by mandate and ill-conceived regulations that actually making positive changes will be impossible. The other day Schwarzenegger outlined an ambition plan for his first 100 days in office, but I’ll be surprised if he is anything other than ineffectual in implementing it. And if he does succeed, I doubt it will make any difference. The problems in this state are endemic and no one man is going to fix it. It will take a concerted effort by all of our political leaders, and right now, I don’t see the political will to make that happen.
Of course, if Schwarzenegger is elected by a large margin in the face of these allegations, with the recall winning by a landslide, maybe that will create the necessary mandate for change. Even so, if there are sweeping reforms, I’ll be surprised. I just think we’re screwed.