Kerry: 'No new nuances'

Kerry: 'No new nuances'

Kerry: 'No new nuances'

A mostly political Weblog.
Sept. 16 2003 4:41 PM

L.A. Times Poll Scandal?

Plus: Recall Wreck Roundup

(Continued from Page 4)

But how is Arnold going to keep these interests on board unless he actually delivers for them? Can he con them into thinking they need to buy a piece of him when really it does them no good at all? Isn't that a sort of consumer fraud? Schwarzenegger's home-repair experience may come in handy here. ... 3:36 P.M.

The Lurleen Factor: One of the mysteries of Arnold Schwarzenegger's run is why a man with his ego would want to give up a life of global fame for a nerve-wracking job haggling with cowtown hacks in unglamorous Sacramento--when as a foreign-born citizen he can't even use the governorship as the basis for a presidential run, thanks to Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. (It says the President "shall be a natural born citizen" and Schwarzenegger was born in Austria.)

For Californians, myself included, who might be willing to take the risk of installing this untested performer in office, Article II's constitutional bar acts as a sort of security blanket. It's not as if we're loosing another Reagan on the nation--the worst that can happen is one state gets messed up. (And, you know, out here we can always recall the guy.) Article II also makes tacitly backing Schwarzenegger less risky for the Bush White House--it's not as if they'd be creating a rival for Jeb in 2008.

But maybe it's time to question the assumption that Scwarzenegger could never win the White House. Why? Not because I think the Constitution is about to be amended in some sort of  "You get Schwarzenegger, we get Granholm" bargain. I'm thinking more of Lurleen Wallace, wife of Alabama governor George Wallace. When her husband was barred from succeeding himself in 1966, according to what appears to be an official Alabama history:

George announced the candidacy of his wife Lurleen for governor. The couple admitted frankly that if Lurleen was elected, George would continue to make the administrative policies and decisions. Mrs. Wallace won the May Democratic primary with 54 percent of the vote which assured her election in November.

Lurleen Wallace died of cancer in 1968, turning the governorship over to the state's Lieutenant Governor.  But her candidacy offers a model that remains unaccountably unexploited in American politics. Until, maybe, now.

Is it crazy to imagine that, if a) Arnold Schwarzenegger wins the governorship and b) his term in office is perceived as successful, then c) his wife, Maria Shriver, would run for president, with the understanding that her husband would actually "make the administrative policies and decisions"--or most of them, anyway? No constitutional amendment necessary.

It's not as if Maria, daughter of the 1972 Democratic vice-presidential candidate, isn't a political figure in her own right. Here's the lede of Joan Ryan's S.F. Chronicle profile of Mrs. Schwarzenegger:

Ask Bobby Shriver how his sister came to the decision that, yes, her husband should run for governor, and he says you've got it wrong.

"She didn't come to it," he said by phone the other day. "Arnold came to it."

Even if, as we're told, Maria only reluctantly went along with her husband's desire to run, that doesn't mean she's not loving the campaign now, or won't come to like it. It doesn't mean that, if in 2006 they are completing a successful stint in Sacramento and wondering what to do next, the Lurleen precedent--or some two-for-the-price-of-one, vote-for-the-team variation--won't recommend itself. Are you sure Maria Shriver wouldn't want to be co-president?

Of course, there are a few complications. She's a Democrat, for one. That makes the Schwarzenshriver ticket potentially more appealing--but it also would make it somewhat difficult to win the Republican nomination. So they run as Democrats, or more likely as Ross Perot-style independents--which is Schwarzenegger's natural route to power anyway.