A mostly political Weblog.
Aug. 21 2003 5:33 PM

Where's All That Arnold Dirt?

Plus: Ariannaphobia!

From Daniel Weintraub's blog-coverage of Schwarzenegger's Orange County event:

The scene was incredible. I have been following candidates for governor in this state since 1986, and there simply has never been anything like this, or even close. The Schwarzenegger campaign kept the details about this event under wraps until early this morning to keep down the size of the crowd. A political campaign trying to keep down a crowd?

This is not a problem even as charismatic a figure as Cruz Bustamante faces. ... 6:20 P.M.


Friday, August 22, 2003

Where's all that Arnold dirt? It would be highly convenient for Arnold Schwarzenegger if the biggest American tabloids had all recently come under the control of one man, who could, if he chose, spike any trashy negative stories about the GOP gubernatorial candidate (at least until after October 7). .. Luckily that sort of consolidation could never happen. ... Oh, wait. ... I mean, luckily American Media Inc. chairman David Pecker is a journalist of unimpeachable integrity who would never fiddle with the content of his publications in order to please a friend or business associate. ... Right? ... Hello? ... What's this you want me to read? An old New York Observer clip?

Mr. Pecker made a lot of noise in his nine years at Hachette. ... In 1996, in one of his most brazen moves, he forced the editors of Premiere to kill an article on a partnership imbroglio at the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain at the request of Ronald Perelman, who at the time was a 50 percent owner of the magazine. After Mr. Pecker gave them the order, Premiere's two top editors resigned. Mr. Pecker really didn't care. "The last time I looked," he told reporters, "I am C.E.O. of the company." [Emphasis added]

But it's not as if there's anybody who says Pecker actually promised to lay off Schwarzenegger. ... Except for this one guy, I mean--Joe Weider, Arnold's mentor, who  tells the NYDN  that when he was negotiating a business deal with Pecker, Pecker told him, "Joe, we've done enough on Arnold. We're going to lay off him." [Emph. added] ... But hey, Weider's 83 years old! Who'd believe him over a figure of renowned probity like Pecker? ... [Luckily the dirt on Arnold will still all be there in the tabloids' priceless archives. They'll never destroy those.--ed. Never.] [Links via Romenesko7:18 P.M.


Arnold-friendly journalist William Bradley finds signs of disorganization in the early Schwarzenegger campaign, as does Variety's Gabriel Snyder. ... Bradley pull-quote: "Despite earlier talk, there was no Schwarzenegger plan. No secret plan, just a secret." ... P.S.: Bradley approaches A.S. from the left, so when he says Schwarzenegger now opposes part of the anti-illegal-immigrant Prop. 187, he may also be subtly pushing his candidate in that direction. But Bradley has a quote to back it up. ... Still, is "fuzzy  on 187" such a bad place for Arnold to be? Most voters are presumably torn on the illegal-immigrant-schooling issue too. ...  P.P.S.: Good Bradley line about Davis' "hold-the-mea mea culpa" address at U.C.L.A. ...P.P.P.S:  Snyder's piece is subscription-only. But here's the sign of disorganization:

There were also hints Wednesday that the Schwarzenegger campaign had been rushed in organizing the event. Not only did a list of members of the Economic Recovery Council misspell Buffett's name (with only one "t"), it also misspelled Schwarzenegger (without a "z").

2:46 P.M.

Ariannaphobial! Wonderfully vicious anti-Arianna Huffington column by Susan Estrich. She likes Arianna too!

In truth, I find her charming, as such people can be. She is who she is, and she makes no bones about it. She used to be against feminism and now supports it; used to be a conservative and now isn't; encouraged her husband to support Proposition 187 and now opposes it; used to support Gingrich and now opposes him; opposes corporate tax breaks yet takes advantage of them; rails against oil wealth and lives off it; vows to take care of children and ignores the needs of her own.

It is the people supporting her whom I find utterly inexplicable -- or, rather, indefensible. She doesn't pretend to have principles. But don't they?

The ease with which she has taken Hollywood by storm is an embarrassing confirmation of the shallowness of my hometown.


One not--really-conflicting explanation, of course, is that Arianna's supporters also find her charming.. ... And Estrich is about 5 percent off--Arianna does claim to have principles and tries to reconcile her shifting positions. But the basic point is right: she doesn't pretend to be anything other than an ambitious, publicity-savvy would-be public intellectual, which is part of the charm...  P.S.: This Estrich column is the sort of piece the editors of the L.A. Times desperately need to be publishing if they want anyone to read and talk about their op-ed page. Instead, the Times is giving us a series (aargh!) of commentaries by Peter King, the first of which  Matt Welch rightly characterizes as a "sour mash of second-hand cliches." ... Memo to op-ed editor Nick Goldberg: What happened? Are you on vacation? Did they foist an in-house turkey off on you? I thought the Times'snew owners wanted to liven things up. ... Update: Arianna responds to Estrich here. ...  1:06 P.M.

Daniel Drezner isn't buying the fashionable "flypaper" theory. He says the Bush administration needs Iraq to be an "oasis of stability, not a grand opening for Terrorists 'R Us"--and he offers a piece of evidence from today's LAT. ... P.S.: The relatively high-quality comments to his post are also recommended.. ... 12:17 P.M.

Let those East Coasters try to make something of this. The dignified, orderly process of winnowing the recall candidates has begun:

State election officials certified 135 people to appear as replacement candidates should Davis be recalled. The list shortened by one this week when one dropped out after police said he was the leading suspect in a 1996 Atlanta murder case.


2:19 A.M.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Give LAT columnist Robert Scheer points--he's willing to dis his friend Arianna Huffington. ... Give LAT contributor Prof. Larry Sabato points: just when most hidebound East Coast pundits were waking up to the reality that California's recall had some good features and wasn't just an exercise in mindless plebiscitism, Sabato decides to publish an even more hidebound piece, denouncing the recall as "just the latest manifestation of mob-ocracy"! The first manifestation, of course, is the evil initiative process. Sabato declares:

Californians have piled foolish initiative upon foolish initiative in modern times.


Yes, we Californians have passed some foolish initiatives, some of which (e.g., term limits) may have contributed to the current budget crisis. On the other hand, an initiative helped our state end the misguided experiment in bilingual education that persists in most of the rest of the country. And we've pioneered a democratic, legislated (not judge-decreed) end to racial preferences. Even if you disagree with these initiatives, you might recognize the utility of having California experiment with them before the entire nation does. There are now test scores, for example, with which to make the case against bilingual ed. ... It makes sense that, in a mature democracy, the problems that have gone unsolved will a) the more difficult problems and/or b) problems the solutions to which the normal political system conspires to block--because both parties are bought, or both parties are chasing after the same group of swing voters, or interest groups have otherwise clogged up the works ("demosclerosis"). In that situation, the judicious application of majority rule can sometimes work wonders. ... P.S.: As Daniel Weintraub notes, we are only getting a strict  consumer financial privacy protection bill (now touted by Gov. Davis) because of the threat of an initiative. ...

P.S.: Speaking of Prof. Sabato, one other thing did bother me about Arnold Schwarzenegger's press conference. It was when Schwarzenegger lamented that "no one, not even the economic and academic leaders, could figure out and make heads or tails of the state's budget." Why is Schwarzenegger depending on academics?. Academics are usually the last to know! They were the last to know about welfare dependency, for example. And if you want up-to-date figures on federal taxes or the income distribution, you don't call up an academic. You call up Bob McIntyre at Citizens for Tax Justice or someone in the Congressional Budget Office.  ... Somewhere in the bowels of the state bureaucracy or legislature there is probably a slightly nerdy person who can make heads or tails of the state's budget. If Schwarzenegger was more familiar with government, he'd know his job is to find that person (or persons), not to commune with "economic and academic leaders."  ... P.P.S.: I'm particularly suspicious of Schwarzenexpert George Shultz in this regard. During one of the Nixon-era welfare debates, if I remember right, Shultz dramatically unveiled a new "incentive" proposal, designed by his Friedmanite experts--only to belatedly discover that the proposal was already written into the existing law. [Nothing like a good welfare anecdote-ed. They eat it up; it's like crack to them. Trust me.] ... 1:36 P.M.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Makes the BBC look like the O'Reilly Factor! I try to resist charging that skeptical reports about the war reflect impatient, biased "quagmirism." (I was a quagmirist on Vietnam and haven't changed my mind about that.) But today's CBS News "Reality Check" by Mark Phillips (available as the "Post-War Reality Check" on this page) was so jaw-droppingly one-sided and opportunistically defeatist it's turning me into Ann Coulter!...Click on the link, watch the video, and judge for yourself. Or take it from me: It's really bad. Phillips outlines U.S. goals in Afghanistan and Iraq ("The ideas were simple ...") and then asserts flatly that in both countries "chaos and blood, not security and democracy, have been the result." A couple of Middle East types are interviewed, one of whom (an editor of the Al-Quds newspaper) declares that the U.S. has achieved "absolutely nothing." The other, the "leader of an Islamic militant group", says the "fact that operations are increasing" shows that organizations like Al Qaeda haven't been dismantled. That's it. No attempt to even summarize what the Bush administration might credibly argue that it's achieved, much less to actually film somebody saying it. Even as an antiwar document, this was bad journalism--as if the success or failure of a complex thing like a war could be measured neatly on a one-entry "Reality" checklist, as if one campaign of bombing (which might or might not be a sign of desperation) settled the issue, as if you could reach a judgment without hearing the other side.   ... 8:14 P.M.

It seems only yesterday that the "flypaper" theory of U.S. strategy in Iraq was a tiny little meme-speck on the horizon--specifically on the blogs of  Austin Bay  and David Warren, from where it was subsequently propagated by Instapundit. Today, it's perilously close to Conventional Wisdom status. Here Ralph Peters endorses it  in the N.Y. Post:

[Every "potential Howard Dean voter" will] trot out the nonsense that, since Iraq has become a magnet for international terrorists, we've failed on that count, too.

On the contrary. We've taken the War Against Terror to our enemies. It's far better to draw the terrorists out of their holes in the Middle East, where we don't have to read them their rights, than to wait for them to show up in Manhattan again.

In Iraq, we can just kill the bastards. And we're doing it with gusto.

The flaw in the Flypaper ("Bring 'em on") theory, of course, is that it assumes the number of terrorists (like the number of flies) is finite and more or less fixed--that we won't produce more terrorists by the very setting of the trap than the trap neutralizes.  Let's hope so. ... 6:26 P.M.

They hate him, they really hate him. Rich Lowry thinks today's Bush-hating on the left is the equivalent of the Clinton-hating on the right. ABC's estimable The Note (which, I think, means Mark Halperin in this case) has called the comparison "insane" and "uncalibrated." Lowry answers back in today's N.Y. Post [not online, as far as I can tell]. ... I've hung out with Bush-haters, and I've hung out with Clinton-haters, and I would side with Lowry in the uncalibrated, rough-equivalence camp. Maybe marginally fewer Bush-haters accuse Bush personally of ordering Mafia-style murders--but the night is young. And they would put nothing past the man and his family. ... 6:15 P.M.

The Bee boys-- Walters and Weintraub--were not impressed with Gray Davis' self-serving non-apology apology yesterday. .... It was, in fact, filled with annoyingly crude partisan Lehanian appeals to the converted, a base-hugging approach that might work were Davis competing for a mere plurality of votes in the crowded "replacement" election, as Bustamante is. But Davis, unlike Bustamante, needs to win a majority of votes in the first, yes-no, recall election--and for that, he'll need the support of voters in the center who may not feel the recall is entirely an evil Republican plot to steal an election ... Did counterproductive overspinner Chris Lehane, a Davis adviser who also works for John Kerry, work on the speech? Did he accidantlly mix up the text of a Kerry appeal to Iowa caucusgoers with Davis appeal to the California general electorate? Or is he so used to talking to fellow Democratic activists he doesn't know what a pitch up the middle sounds like? ... P.S.: Alternatively, was the purpose of the speech simply to stop Davis' plunge in the polls and build up enough support on the left to convince the unions to spend their money on Davis instead of flipping to Bustamante? ...  3:10 P.M.

Arianna 17.0: After a bad week, Arianna Huffington may have found a comfortable niche that should get her through the election with dignity--she's the new Lynda Obst of politics! Obst is the Hollywood producer who (along with Revolution Studios' Joe Roth) entertainment reporters can reliably turn to when they need a witty, candid quote that says what the reporters want to say themselves but can't within the confines of "objectivity." Here Arianna does some Obsting in the LAT, making fun of Democrat Cruz Bustamante for neglecting to give his Indian casinos backers a share of his taxing "Tough Love." ... P.S.: It's not an easy job, being honest and clever on demand. When I worked for Sen. Ernest Hollings, who had earned a reputation for cutting humor, his office was constantly bombarded with requests for pithy quotes--many more than Hollings could ever come up with himself. The result: the ghost-pithers must work overtime. ... That's one burden Gray Davis doesn't have. ... P.S.: More Arianna Obsting here. ... 2:48 P.M.

Reagan 2.0: Schwarzenegger was "better than expected" at his press conference-- not unexpectedly! He seemed in command, not too egomaniacal, and knowledgeable enough about the issues. All very Reaganesque, presumably by design--except I don't remember Reagan being as sharp. National Democrats (and Jeb Bush) should be very grateful for Article II, Section 5 of the Constitution. ... At least one pundit is saying that this is a match between a Clinton surrogate (Davis) and a Reagan imitator (Schwarzenegger). But Davis is an inferior Clinton while Schwarzenegger may actually be a superior Reagan. .... Caveat 1: He's still relying too much on the "I'm an outsider, I'm being educated. Then I will make my decision" crutch. If there's a crisis, do voters want someone who has to be educated, a la Jimmy Carter? Reagan, it's been noted, seemed to know pretty clearly what he wanted to do, even if he didn't always do it when in office. ... Caveat 2: Schwarzenegger could still be talking, for all I know. The TV stations all cut away after about thirty minutes of his press conference. Maybe he's even now making some horrible gaffe. ... Caveat 3:  A.S. blamed overspending for the budget crisis but was conventionally vague about what he would cut. Bustamante wasn't any more "specific" about the spending cuts he says he'd make  either. Only Peter Ueberroth, as far as I can see, has proposed the sort of nasty, difficult move that might dramatically change the budget situtation--he wants to renegotiate labor contracts  with state employee unions. If Davis overspent, in part by acceding to excessively generous wage and pension deals, what's the point of accepting those mistakes as a baseline--which means that you have to cut services to achieve any savings, or raise taxes (or somehow suck in enough new businesses to pay for the inflated wage and pension bills you've accepted)? ...

P.S.: Schwarzenegger proposed a new constitutional limit on spending. Might that provide cover for repealing the seemingly counterproductive constitutional requirement for a 2/3 legislative vote on spending increases? ...

P.P.S.: Weintraub, no A.S. foe,  has a slightly harsher take. He says Schwarzenegger's budget plan is "not a reasonable proposition." ... 2:16 P.M.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

It's the Battle of the Recall Reformers! Berkeley's Bruce Cain has five recommendations for improving California's recall law  here. Loyola's Rick Hasen has his five recommendations here

--Both want to raise the number of signatures required to trigger a recall. Fair enough--though only Hasen admits that Gray Davis' opponents would probably have met even his higher threshold. ...

--Both want to raise the signature requirements for becoming a candidate too. That seems more debatable, since one of the glories of this recall has been the egalitarian, anyone-can-run atmosphere. (Meanwhile, complaints about the long ballot seem overblown. Are citizens who routinely negotiate a typical cable TV guide or sushi menu really unable to find their candidate among 135 names, if the ballot is laid out clearly?) ....  

--But if you're going to have lots of candidates, you should have some means of insuring that the winner gets more than a tiny plurality of the vote. Hasen proposes either a runoff or "instant runoff voting," in which voters rank their first, second, and third choices, with their votes redistributed if their top picks don't make the cut. Cain, as far as I can tell, merely proposes that the challenged officeholder (e.g. Gray Davis) be permitted to run in any "replacement" election. That would make it unlikely that a recalled officeholder would have more support than the winning replacement candidate (though it wouldn't be impossible if you count second choices)--but it would do little to insure that the eventual victor at some point wins a majority instead of a possibly-small plurality. ....

Advantage: Hasen! ... P.S.: Anti-recallers might note that there are no runoff provisions in a regular California election either! If there are three candidates, the winner could have a mere 35 percent of the vote. That rarely happens because a) the parties have primaries that winnow out candidates and b) voters want their "vote to count," so at the end of a campaign they tend to make a choice between the two leading contenders. But this second dynamic is also operating in the current recall--it's highly likely that in the end voters will gravitate to one of the top two candidates, probably Bustamante and Schwarzenegger. Which means it's also not so unlikely that if Davis is recalled the eventual winner will get more votes (around 40 percent) than the highly unpopular Davis gets in the first, up-down, recall-or-not portion of the ballot. ...But there should still be a runoff. ... 3:34 A.M.

Blog scoop of the day: On Reason's "Hit & Run," Matt Welch catches Arianna Huffington in 1994 praising Prop. 187, the anti-illegal-immigrant law she now denounces and (more important) claims she voted against back in 1994 . ... It's not a 100 percent contradiction of meaning, but it's close to a 100 percent contradiction of tone. ... If Arianna really voted against 187, then she wasn't leveling back in 1994. But maybe the time when she wasn't leveling was recently, when she said she'd voted against it--because on his own blog Welch also catches her saying some not-crazy things about illegal (and legal!) immigration the year after the 187 vote, including:

Those who have really been affected are working-class Americans who are being pushed off the ladder of opportunity by illegal immigrants representing an unending source of cheap labor, or who feel it's unfair for them to pay for illegal immigrants on welfare while they themselves can barely make ends meet.

There's nothing wrong with switching positions. There is something wrong with then trying to deny you've switched. If Arianna would freely admit her shift and joke about it, almost all would be forgiven. It's bizarre that she hasn't been deflecting criticisms in public with the self-deprecating humor that wins over dinner guests in private. ... Update: In the NYT, Arianna repeats her claim that she voted against Prop. 187, but her ex-husband tells the Times that she "encouraged him to support the measure"  (the NYT's words) in his 1994 campaign for the Senate. ... 3:12 A.M.

Monday, August 18, 2003

The San Jose News' Laura Kurtzman reviews the Field Poll data and concludes, "Despite Schwarzenegger's celebrity, voters appear to be evaluating him in much the same way they do other candidates." [Link via The Note.] ... Come to think of it, isn't the big loser in the Field Poll not Schwarzenegger, who did much worse than expected, but WaPo'sfaux-neolib columnist, E.J. Dionne, who, groping for anti-recall arguments,  portrayed California voters as dumb, sheep-like fans manipulated by a Hollywood-centric press and cowed by Arnold's movie-star status--as he put it, "spectators to a distant clash in which celebrity is the only thing that matters." What movie did frontrunner Cruz Bustamante star in? Was he the villain in that Zorro remake? Looks like a few things matter other than celebrity after all. ... 9:46 P.M.

Arnold's through! ... No, wait, not yet! Weintraub  blogs a Monday "scener"  on why Bustamante's surprising Field Poll showing doesn't doom A.S. ...Meanwhile, at least five serious candidates are unveiling   competing budget solutions (see also here) . In Sacramento they're finally getting serious about reforming the state's troubled worker's comp system. Yes, it's a disaster for democracy! Just as George Will and David Broder said. ... P.S.: One reason Schwarzenegger is having trouble might be that he doesn't understand the Feiler Faster Principle.  "We will be rolling out our policy positions and vision for California on our timetable," says his spokesman Sean Walsh. That's his right--but with the rapid pace of "what's the latest?" stories, the two weeks Schwarzenegger gets hammered for not having anything to say is more like what a two month hammering used to be. This isn't a stately Terminator 3 rollout where the media and public will obediently wait for the star. ... 12:37 P.M.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

What's So Bad About Gray Davis Anyway? Part 4: Gray Davis' reputation is partly captured in this Matt Welch post, quoting an actual Davis friend:

Gray is kind of a, you know, this kind of guy who polls for the answer. ... There's not much that Gray stands for -- and I like Gray personally -- but Gray doesn't stand for anything. That's his problem politically right now. You know, Gray stands for Gray. And so, as something moves forward, his calculus is not 'What do I feel in my gut or my heart?' His calculus is 'What sounds good? What polls good? I don't wanna make a mistake that could cost me politically.'

Two other sources confirm this reputation evidence. So it must be true! ... National political commentators seem to assume the revolt against Davis is a sort of know-nothing, times-are-bad-throw-the-bums-out spasm. After all, his centrist policies are what voters want. Why dump him? But in fact the essential Davis critique is a fairly sophisticated, Beltway-quality analysis, along the lines of: "Even though we agree with his centrist politics, a) he's corrupted by his insatiable campaign finance needs; and b) he's cautious and does only what the polls tell him it's safe to do." In short, he's a state-of-the-art modern politician. If voters rebel against that, are they being vulgar, or subtle? ... Davis seems to be what people thought Clinton was, a man with no core principles other than self-advancement. ...

What's So Bad About Arnold Schwarzenegger Anyway? Schwarzenegger's reputation, meanwhile--which I've heard from one reliable source, one eyewitness ultra-reliable source, and one unreliable Premiere article-- is this: He bullies people "below the line." That is, he bullies the technicians, costumers, etc. who aren't billboardable talents. Is it to get his way? No--he's the star and he's going to get his way anyway. It's from an ugly sense of pleasure in others' discomfort. ... Will this unpleasant character trait come out in the campaign? Schwarzenegger may learn, as Howell Raines learned, that it's harder to get away with being a bigshot prick than it used to be. ... On the other hand, if I were being hounded by investigative journalists, I'd sure want them to be investigative journalists from the L.A. Times. The Times'record of failing to destroy its targets is legendary. Under its new management the paper is better than it was, but culture is hard to change. ... 2:18 P.M.

I like Arianna Huffington. Really. Any author who can come up with $410,363 in deductions is a friend of freelance writers everywhere. But Mark Steyn's anti-Arianna column is still very funny, and it includes what may be the cold-water-realistic epitaph of her gubernatorial campaign:

Label-wise, she's more of a trickle-down populist, who figures if you network at enough A-list parties,word will eventually leak out to the 29 million Californians who weren't invited.

Marc Cooper likes Arianna too, and on his way to actually endorsing her makes  a left-wing anti-anti-recall case. ... Point #3 (labeling as a "myth" the idea that "organized labor is the force behind progressive politics") I read as a swipe at Cooper's L.A. Weekly comrade, H. Meyerson. (See below.) ... P.S.: Did you know Bustamante was a Lieberman guy? I like that in an ex-Mechista! (For a Bustamante-pegged discussion of the Mecha organization and its racialist, neo-secessionist ideology, see Tacitus.) ... 1:53 A.M.

To the many emailers accusing kf of being too recall-o-centric: The coming California vote is shaping the political discourse in ... Venezuela! If it sells in Caracas, it's good enough for kausfiles. ... 1:30 A.M.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Weintraub reports that Gray Davis is about to sign a bill to give gay and lesbian partners "marriage-style rights, benefits and responsibilities."  Apart from the merits of the bill, is this an attempt to put Arnold Schwarzenegger on the spot? If Schwarzenegger endorses gay unions, he loses lots of votes on the right, no?  ... Will A.S. be heard from? [He's on vacation-ed. Not Sullivan, idiot. We know what he thinks.] ... Wouldn't the easy counter be for Schwarzenegger to find something in the bill he thinks goes too far, but say he endorses the principle? He's in a Clintonian middle position. Clintonian times call for Clintonian measures! ...  5:04 P.M.

If there's gloom, there's room: Got bad news? Call Greg Winter at the New York Times! ... 4:56 P.M.

Friday, August 15, 2003 

Quote of the Day: "Lloyd doesn't need more pins. He needs more dolls." (From J. Walls' Scoop) 6:20 P.M.

Ann Coulter has good sport with Harold Meyerson, who has written 783 consecutive articles (783, 782, 781  ...) predicting that the unionized Latino working class will lead California--make that America--into the progressive future. Meyerson, faced with the grim prospect of writing at least another decade's worth of the same tedious piece before his prediction comes true, flails helplessly here. He even resorts to the deeply offensive left-wing cliche:

[W]hen the Golden State's white middle class riots, it normally happens at the ballot box.

I thought it was an election! ... [Sorry. Welch made that point yesterday-ed.] ... Meyerson's piece does indulge in some good Bustamante-bashing ("one of the dimmer stars in California's political firmament"), noting that many unions don't like him. He also points out that Arianna Huffington now "looks perfectly positioned to play the role of a Nader spoiler," throwing a close election to Schwarzenegger. ... Maybe the long-awaited Arnold-Arianna "Armani Alliance" has materialized after all. ... 2:46 P.M.

As predicted in an eerily semi-prescient item, fusty East Coast commentators, horrified by the plebiscitary messiness in California, face a dilemma: How to somehow acknowledge the burst of citizen involvement sparked by the recall without praising the recall itself, or (heaven forbid) its unsporting Republican backers? WaPo's E.J. Dionne rises to the challenge today with a two-prong approach: 1)Blame broadcasters, for failing to cover the California budget politics before now; 2) Scoff at the celebrity factor, claiming the "Arnold Effect" is the only reason the craven press and the voters are paying attention now. ... The obvious, fatal problem with Dionne's thesis is that the recall was big news--certainly in California, but also nationally--way before Schwarzenegger entered the race, indeed when everyone was certain he wouldn't enter the race. .. Dionne also risks surrendering the populist card by portraying California voters as dumb cows who are mere "spectators to a distant clash in which celebrity is the only thing that matters."  Note to E.J.: It was the last election, the regular Davis vs. Simon race in 2002, where voters felt like mere "spectators to a distant clash." That's why turnout was so low. P.S.: Why make two phone calls before producing a column? Isn't that overdoing it? One is surely sufficient. And if you become a blogger, you can do even better than that! ... P.P.S.: I'm afraid Sen. Dianne Feinstein belongs with Dionne,  Broder and George Will  in the fusty anti-recall camp, except that her fear of democratic chaos (how can you plan a summer in Aspen if one of these nasty election things might pop up at a moments notice?) had real-world consequences, prompting her to refuse pleas to get into the race. The result will probably be the Democratic loss of the governorship. ... 2:08 P.M.

Thursday, August 14, 2003 

L.A. Weekly's William Bradley, who is very plugged in with Schwarzenegger and ain't afraid to let you know it, has some insights into A.S.'s politics, and an explanation for why he may not have let his ally, ex-L.A. mayor Richard Riordan, in on his surprise decision to run:

So did Schwarzenegger "mug" his friend Riordan, who had already endorsed him on Fox News in late June, by not telling him he had decided to run after all, as claimed by yet another unnamed source? Only those two know for sure what was said. But consider the logic of the situation. Riordan is notoriously garrulous. He is an old friend of Feinstein. They have many mutual friends. Would you trust him to keep arguably the biggest secret of your life?

Rational paranoia or egomania? You make the call! ... Also:

The hard truth is there [was] no Riordan operation. Riordan had detailed his former aide Noelia Rodriguez, now first lady Laura Bush's press secretary, to set up a campaign team. Told by the White House she would have to resign to work for Riordan, she returned to Washington with the task undone

As for the politics, Bradley describes A.S. as the heir to Pete Wilson's "kinder and gentler" aide, the late Otto Bos:

... moderate to liberal on social and environmental issues, fiscally conservative but focused on intervening to help people at critical stages in their lives (say childhood development, basic education, opportunities for higher education, job training).

I have some question as to whether this is actually Arnold's bedrock philosophy or rather the philosophy Bradley (who was a senior advisor and California political director for Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign) hears in part because he wants to hear it and urge it on his candidate. ... P.S.: Bradley is critical enough to say that A.S.'s "evasions were not artful and raised questions about the neophyte candidate's grasp of specifics." ...  3:27 P.M.

Kausfiles comes to you uninterrupted from California, where we always have power, thanks to the farsighted leadership of Gov. Gray Davis and about $40 billion. ... 3:09 P.M.



Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--Escapee from American Prospect. Salon--Better click fast! Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Calmer Times--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko's MediaNews--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central.. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna--A hybrid vehicle. populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog.  B-Log--Blog of spirituality!  Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.]