After Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher got national attention for self-righteously quitting the GOP to pursue the San Diego mayor’s seat as an independent, it was inevitable that Arnold Schwarzenegger would write an L.A. Times op-ed patting himself on the back for being a constructive non-Neanderthal maverick Republican. Years before he was fine-tuning the constructive maverick narrative for Fletcher, political guru Matt David was doing it for John McCain, Arnold and Jon Huntsman. But the problem for Schwarzenegger is what he leaves out of his op-ed — his assault on the Sacramento establishment from 2003-2005 — and what he leaves in — implied championing of three of the left’s biggest boondoggles: Obamacare, green jobs and the bullet train. If I were Fletcher, I’m not sure I’d want to be linked to Arnold.
The uncomfortable truth for Schwarzenegger, Fletcher and anyone who promotes the “both sides are to blame” narrative in California is that one side has almost the power, so of course it is primarily to blame for where California finds itself.
Arnold understood this from when he ran in the 2003 recall to his special election wipeout in 2005. California would have become a far saner state if Arnold had prevailed in 2005, with teacher tenure reform, a state budget straightjacket and an indirect limit on union power through “paycheck protection” over automatic deduction of union dues from public employee paychecks.
But Arnold didn’t prevail. And immediately afterwards, he began flailing around in the most awkward, overt legacy hunt of any politician I have ever seen.
This is reflected in his onanistic L.A. Times’ op-ed over the weekend. What does he knock conformist Republicans for? A thoughtful, defensible position would have been for opposing any broad changes in the tax code that might have raised taxes for some but would have promoted overall economic growth. Instead, Arnold gets on his high horse with Republicans for not going along with three of the biggest boondoggles of the modern political era:
Some Republicans today aren’t even willing to have conversations about protecting the environment, investing in the infrastructure America needs or improving healthcare.
The first part is a reference to the green jobs boondoggle, the second to the bullet train and the third to Obamacare. It is not a partisan assertion to say that independent folks looking at all three have run away screaming over their horrible cost-to-benefit ratios.
But Arnold doesn’t care. He had the vision thing in spades, yunno? He wants to remind us he was for the green-jobs-will-save-us-all fantasy before Obama and Jerry Brown. That he was for the bullet train fantasy before Obama and Brown. And that between Mitt Romney and Obama, he sought the same sort of mandatory health insurance program for all Californians — only to be thwarted by that most unlikely voice of reason, Don Perata!
What’s funniest of all is the way that people not in San Diego describe what’s going on in San Diego. Like the NYT’s David Brooks, Arnold tried to depict Fletcher as having been rebuffed by rigid GOP reactionaries, contrary to Ronald Reagan’s desire for a “welcoming, open and diverse Republican Party.”
Two months ago, Republicans in the city of San Diego’s central committee had three choices to endorse for mayor.
One was Fletcher, a handsome war hero married to a Bush 43 staffer, someone with cute young kids, someone championed by former San Diego war hero-turned-mayor-and-then-governor Pete Wilson and someone whose biggest legislative accomplishment was passing a complex new law on sex offenders that was broadly if not accurately seen as a standard tough-on-crime crackdown.
One was Bonnie Dumanis, the tough-on-crime San Diego district attorney who had the support of incumbent Republican mayor Jerry Sanders. She is gay, of which Bill O’Reilly, who likes to call her “Mrs. Dumanis,” seems unaware.
The third Republican mayoral candidate – and the one whose victory with the city central committee led to Fletcher’s quitting the party — is Carl DeMaio — a gay libertarian whose retail political skills are often found lacking and whose ties to San Diego are slim.
So which young Republican politician’s journey to the party’s endorsement is more likely — Fletcher’s or DeMaio’s?
If you said the latter, I look forward to you naming all the other young gay libertarians whom California Republicans have rallied around. If you said the former, plainly, you’re drinking the Matt David Kool-Aid.
But Arnold, of course, isn’t a drinker of the Kool-Aid. Since his 2005 special election wipeout, he’s been a dispenser of the Kool-Aid, of the idea that Republicans share much of the blame for our local/state woes.
In a state where 97 percent of the power rests with Democrats, that’s nearly as ridiculous as blaming the dissidents in Pyongyang for North Korea’s woes.