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The Recall Quagmire

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asMy 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.

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About Howard Owens

  • If this recall is successful and Schwarenegger goes to Sacramento, I fear for California — and for the US.

  • Joe

    What do you fear for? Do you think that the republic cannot bear the burden of another sheiskopf in office? He’s not the only politician in recent years to face allegations ranging from a slight zipper problem to rape and manslaughter (I’m looking at you Teddy Kennedy, Henry Hyde, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, etc, etc…). I mean, it’s not like he’d be the first lout, or the first neophyte, or even the first crackpot (and I’m not saying he’s any of those things, just that he wouldn’t be the first), of either party stripe to be elected.

  • No, I fear that recall will become the accepted GOP method of gaining control of the entire nation. This is bigger than one “sheiskopf.”

  • The GOP has done pretty well over the last 10 years without recalls. In any event, the California recall fully complies with the State Consitution. What many people fear is that the electorate is regularly making choices with which they disagree.

    I concede that the recall format obviously improves the GOP’s chances in this instance, but Davis is the #1 reason why this sort of initiative has a chance–in a heavily Dem state.

    Anyone: how many states have similar codicils in their State Constitutions?

  • Joe

    Fair enough, but does that mean you wouldn’t support a Democratic backed recall if Arnold were to be elected? I haven’t heard of any other recall efforts that are in the offing or are you talking hypotheticals here? It looks like the GOP already has control of the entire nation if you’re counting the President, Senate, and House.

  • An excerpt from a recent entry at Mac-a-ro-nies sums it up for me:

    What I find troubling is the whole scenario. A C-movie actor with the intelligence of a pet rock announces he is running for the top leadership position in an important state and far too many of the citizenry cluelessly declare their allegiance. The national GOP targets a governor for a spurious recall campaign and far too few of the citizenry see what is wrong with that. We have a habit of blaming leaders for failures in our society. But, I’m inclined to blame the citizens of the not so golden state for this one.

    There will be definite pathological repercussions if Schwarzenegger makes it into the governor’s office. And, the people who voted for him will be responsible for those repercussions.

  • Joe

    All true, MD, but I’d imagine it would be just as easy to say the same were the parties to be reversed but the conditions the were the same. Additionally, It’s not just those who voted him in but those who didn’t vote, didn’t get informed, and the Governor, himself, for his ineptitude.

    Have a great weekend, everybody.

  • I am not a Democrat, Joe. Far from it.

  • Joe

    I know that, that wasn’t the point.

  • If everyone holding their noses let go of them (and other body parts) and voted for McClintock, Arnold might not be the problem he appears to be.

  • Joe: Meaning, I tend *not* to support Democrats. And I have ethics. If I believe the recall to be immoral if the GOP does it, than it is immoral when anyone does it.

    Hal: Or they could remove their hands from their noses and vote NO on recall. McClintock? Chills.

  • McClintock is unelectable. He shouldn’t even be running.