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Why Does Arnold Want This Job?
October 7, 2003
By John H.

On August 6th, Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy for the governorship of the State of California on that most august of political forums, "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. In the nearly two months that have followed, Americans haven't been able to turn on the TV, tune in to a radio station, check a news website, or pick up a newspaper without seeing that epic Teutonic name or reading some inane headline about the Austrian-American actor/politician-sans-portfolio ("Total Recall?" and "Hasta La Vista, Gray Davis?" are among my favorites).

In two short months, Arnold Schwarzenegger has become The Great White Hope of the CA-GOP. Within days of the Terminator's announcement, Darrell Issa, the so-called "Father of the Recall," had tearfully withdrawn from the race. Bill Simon, who faced Gray Davis in the last legitimate election in California, decided to take a year off from losing elections and dropped out as well. Soon, they had both endorsed Schwarzenegger.

There's no question why GOPers are backing out of the California recall and supporting Schwarzenegger: The California Republican Party is weak, and as we have all learned, winning is everything to the Republicans. Schwarzenegger can win, not on qualifications (although the pundits assure us that he has plenty), but on name recognition.

The bigger, and more important question is: Why does Schwarzenegger want this job?

Has he taken the time to consider what he will be facing come October 8th? Perhaps he ought to take a pause from his Gas Guzzler Bus Tour and think about it. Arnold loves Hummer references (a big, dumb vehicle for a big, dumb man); I have one for him. California's budget deficit is like a Hummer: You can't just turn it on a dime. A lot of talk about "bringing businesses to California" and "making sure everyone has a fantastic job" may get you elected, but it won't bring in revenue.

Has he stopped to consider his biggest opponent in the recall election? No matter what happens on October 7th, Cruz Bustamante will still be in government come October 8th, either as lieutenant governor or as governor. Schwarzenegger has not just criticized Bustamante's job performance; he has insulted the lieutenant governor's appearance, and even his receding hairline. Does he not realize that he will have to work with this man?

Judging by his comments at the September 24th debate, he doesn't. "On October 7th, you guys are out," Schwarzenegger told Bustamante. Wrong. Bustamante will still be there, and it's obvious that he views the Kindergarten Cop with a strong mixture of condescension and disdain. Is Arnold's naiveté so deep that he expects civility from his bitter rival when the battle is finished? Does he expect the Democrat-dominated state legislature to bend to his will after their party leader has been thrown out of Sacramento on a rail?

Does Arnold expect the tacit cooperation and support of the public and the press? Chances are that, if he wins this election, he will not have a majority of the vote, or a larger percentage of the vote than Gray Davis received in 2002. In other words, the majority of California voters will have supported someone other than him.

This makes him extremely vulnerable for a recall of his own. The "Recall Schwarzenegger" talk is already beginning. If he doesn't achieve results, and achieve them quickly, he may be out within a year. Is he prepared to defend himself like Davis has been forced to? The California press is already starting to go after him. It won' t stop when he's governor; if he fails miserably, it will accelerate.

So, why does Arnold want this job? Perhaps only God and Arnold Schwarzenegger know...

...or maybe only God knows.

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