Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Right Wing by any Other Name

Governor Schwarzenegger of California ran for office with a fantasyland pledge: no new taxes, no cuts to education or other critical programs. He immediately backed down this pledge -- no, not the taxes part, the "no cuts" part. He made separate deals (bypassing the legislature) with K-12, Community colleges, theCal-State system, and the UC system asking for cuts, but promising no more. Swayed by his celebrity status and popularity, a popularity buoyed by the fact that nobody would oppose him, the deals were made. The Governator also asked for a "one time" $15 billion deficit bond, again bypassing the legislature. Not a bond to fund capital projects, but a bond to fund current expenditures. Again, he made the fantasyland pledge that this would solve everything. Again nobody opposed him.

Now we have a $8 billion deficit. The Gov's new financial guru (finance minister?) Tom Campbell, a snake whom I know personally, has broken all the pledges, save the only one he ever really meant: no new taxes. Tom Campbell's trademark is pretending to be a moderate while actually pushing a hard-right agenda. As a professor, Campbell would go to shocking underhanded lengths in order to injure the careers of liberal students, all the while pretending to be a moderate or a bipartisan figure (by not being a total bigot on social issues). He's made a career out of it. The Gov's association with Tom Campbell is disappointing, and has produced the expected, sad result: a thoroughly right-wing set of priorities presented by supposedly moderate figures. The new plan: cut billions from education and pensions for employees.

It seems that the Democrats may now be willing to call a spade a spade, and fight the Governator on these broken pledges. Perhaps somebody will, at last, call the Arnold Schwarzenegger on being a self-made millionaire and model immigrant. He took tons of illegal drugs (steroids and god knows what else) to help him create a freaky body which he has exhibited on television and movies for money. He has also participated in the bodybuilding industry, in which heavy-steroid-using persons sell insecure young men on the potential of building tremendous bodies by purchasing their magazines using their supplements and vitamin projects. He made his other money running restaurants employing illegal immigrants and paying minimum wage (or less). Not a hero.

Perhaps Democrats will point out the real problems with Arnold's right wing politics, and lay off the trumped-up-sounding accusations that during his drugged up bodybuilding days of the 1970s, he inappropriately touched some women (don't women's groups realize these actually burnish his tough-guy image by 'proving' he's not gay, which is a constant issue for bodybuilders, whose lives revolve around obsession with physical appearance and masculine beauty).

The question is whether the Democrats will expose Arnold for who he really is. Can they take on the Hollywood PR? Maybe so. Hollywood preaches that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Not true in politics.


Raised By Republicans said...

I've thought Arnold was much more to the right than he let on since before the GOP orchestrated that recall. How many times did Arnold say things like "The problem is we have too many politicians. What we need is one single leader who can represent all the people." That is right out of the fascist rhetoric handbook.

The problem all along has been the Republican party's abandonment of any pretense of committment to democracy and good government. The intransigence of the Republicans for two years of budget disaster in California led directly to the recall of the Governor (who was far less to blame for the problems than the 2/3 requirement that enabled a small Republican minority to hold the state hostage for years). The recall enabled the GOP to get Arnold Schwarzenegger elected without having to pass through the primary process. Now, Schwarzenegger is showing exactly what his agenda is...."Starve the 'Beast'" (note the biblical reference! Republicans refer to government itself by the same word used in Revelations to refer to the Anti-Christ).

The Republicans' goal all along has been to bankrupt the government of California forcing either cuts in social programs and eduction or tax increases. Since the Republicans can still block any tax increases because of the 2/3 majority requirement, we are either at an impass (as we were under Davis) or we must give in to the demands of the radical right - supported as they are by the charismatic Governor cum Prime Minister, Schwarzenegger.

Dr. Strangelove said...

The theme of "broken pledges" that LTG brought up may resonate with California voters. Many voters--especially conservatives--were unhappy with the $15 billion dollar bailout, a one-time stopgap measure which we were kinda told was needed so we wouldn't have to sacrifice our children's education and health care. Now, not even a year later, we find ourselves $8 billion in debt again. I think a lot of people are going to feel that it was all for nothing.

A RAND report on California's schools (still on our front page) put it in stark terms: "California's public school system, a national leader 30 years ago, now lags behind on almost every objective measurement of student achievement, funding, teacher qualifications and school facilities." In particular, the report illustrates that:

1. CA national standardized test scores rank 48th out of 50, beating out only Louisiana and Mississippi. And when you adjust the figures to control for income levels and ESL, the scores are the lowest.

2. CA has the second highest ratio of students per teacher, even after a major effort began in 1996 to reduce ratios for K-3 and 9th grade. CA K-12 schools have an average of 20.9 students per teacher, compared with a national average of 16.1.

3. CA teacher standards are generally lower than in other states. 46% of school districts in California require teachers to have full standard certification in the subjects they teach, compared with 82% nationally.

4. CA real average teacher salary during the 2000-2001 was the same as it was in 1969-70, about $39,000 (in today's dollars), putting CA 32nd nationwide. (Of course, this may be because our teachers are held to lower standards now.)

...anyhow the point is, Arnold is going to have to choose between saving our schools and his foolish pledge never to raise taxes. He told us last year that we could have it both ways, and we bought it. I hope very much he won't be able to get away with that slight-of-hand again. I am rapidly becoming disappointed in a governor who I had thought showed great promise.

[Oh, and RbR--let's try to leave the word "cum" out of this nice blog, shall we? :)]

Raised By Republicans said...

its Latin dude! Get your mind out of the gutter! But I suppose you had to be in the gutter to talk about the Gropinator.

Dr. Strangelove said...

LTG describes Arnold's unsavory bodybuilding past and concludes by saying he is, "Not a hero." RbR calls him the Gropinator. What I think I'm hearing is a call for Democrats to attack Arnold's character. I think this is a rather bad idea.

First, I think Arnold already weathered that storm about his checkered past. He hasn't really denied much of it and the footage is out there for everyone to see. Most Californians are aware of it but they just don't want to know or hear more about it, because they like him. It's just like Democrats didn't care about Bill Clinton's adultery or pot-smoking. I think this strategy is a losing one and will make Democrats look like whiners. Or worse, girlie men.

Second, this kind of character assassination is just what Karl Rove would do if his candidate were running against Arnold: he'd find the source of Arnold's strongest appeal and try to smear it. That's what he did to Kerry's war record. It is not lost on me that the difference (of course) is that the slander one could speak about Arnold's past is true, but I still don't like to stoop to their level.

Third, I think the better way to go is for Democrats to subtly build up people's personal admiration for Arnold, even while exposing the truth about his failed policies and his politics-as-usual behavior. Disllusion will set in as people feel betrayed and disgusted. His unrealistic heroic image would be his downfall--he will end up hoisted by his own petard.

The LA Times has already been hammering him on their editorial pages for his fundraising efforts with the special interests he, "claims to abhor" (in their words). In the end, the message will be, "He had a great story and he started off good, but now he's become just another politician who breaks promises, gives tax cuts to his friends, and is beholden to special interests."

There's an imaginary epitaph in Frank Herbert's book, Dune Messiah, that expresses this policy brilliantly.

"Here lies a toppled god--
His fall was not a small one.
We did but build his pedestal,
A narrow and a tall one."

Raised By Republicans said...

Good point.

Yes, there are plenty of policy areas where Arnold is vulnerable. We don't need to resort to character assination.

However, this guy is popular BECAUSE people like him and very little else. I would argue that people are just as likely to ignore criticism of his policies as they are to ignore criticism of his character.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Take a page out of the Book of Rove: attack a man's perceived strengths. What are Arnold's perceived strengths? He's viewed as: (1) a moderate; (2) "not a politician or an insider"; (3) a guy who won't raise taxes; and (4) a self-made man. I want to attack all three. He's a right winger, a true insider now, his policies amount to tax increases (cutting pensions and COLAs), and his rise to wealth is not to be emulated.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I have tried to argue that Democrats should attack Arnold's policies, not his character. That's what I reacted to in my original comment on this post. For that reason, I think that LTG's suggestions #1 - #3 are excellent! I especially like the point that Arnold is taking money out of your pocket by cutting COLAs (etc.)--that these are just taxes in disguise.

I am less sanguine about #4. Arguing that Arnold should not be emulated is attacking his character, and this will fall flat because (a) he's already weathered that storm, and (b) most Californians admire the man right now and just don't want to hear it. Quite possibly, if you wait until after points #1 - #3 have already sunk in, people will feel disillusioned and then will be more open to #4--but until then, #4 is a loser.

Dr. Strangelove said...

RbR says that Arnold is "popular because people like him" and little else--but I think it's more than just an appealing personality. I think that was what let him step onto the political stage, sure, but he then established a few "credentials," and I think LTG correctly identified them: he was viewed as a moderate, a reformer, an outsider, a man who wouldn't play politics as usual, a man who could fix our state without raising taxes, and a man who would get things done. Heck, even I believed this... until I saw the budgets.

Arnold can still be viewed as a cool movie star even if he proves to be a lousy politician. I think that's what Democrats need to show. Because if the credentials can be stripped away--if the Democrats can reveal that as a politician he's become just your average right-wing insider who plays politics as usual, raises taxes, and is ineffective--then people will line up in droves to get his autograph while he's getting booted out of the statehouse.

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