California's cause without a candidate.

California's cause without a candidate.

California's cause without a candidate.

A mostly political Weblog.
Aug. 8 2003 7:08 PM

California's Missing Candidate, II

It's not who you think it is.

Sandenbagger II: We now know Schwarzenegger faked out practically everyone by raising expectations that he would not run and then running --a feint that dramatically heightened the impact of his announcement. Is he setting up a similar trap on the issue of policy "specifics." It seems clear to me that he is smart enough to deliver the outlines of, say, a budget deal while staying vague where he has to. Yet, with reporters hounding him daily for "substance," expectations are now so low and impatience so high that when he does deliver some specifics, it will seem like a triumphant revelation. ... 3:23 P.M.

What 7-letter word is missing from this hed?  "Schwarzenegger Opposed Immigrant Services"--AP story reprinted in WaPo. ...12:28 P.M.

Attention, swarming pack of reporters: If you've read a certain untrustworthy-but-possibly-mainly-true Premiere article on a charming Austro-American film star--isn't the key source to get to not the interviewer-who-was-maybe-groped, but rather theTerminator 2 producer who fired the dresser who was humiliated? Cheating and groping is bad. But humiliating your underlings for sport--should it be true!--would be really ugly, no?...  8:42 A.M.


Esquire has cancelled its plan to have Jayson Blair review the Stephen Glass movie "Shattered Glass." ... Editor David Granger's big mistake was his plan to require that Blair actually watch the movie. That's kind of wasting Blair's talents, isn't it? A better assignment would have been to require that he review the movie without ever leaving his barstool at Siberia. ... 8:31 A.M.

How stupid was it for Gallup to include ex-L.A.-mayor Richard Riordan, who by August 7 obviously wasn't likely to run, in its August 7-10 California gubernatorial poll? Doesn't this sharply reduce the utility of the survey, even as a snapshot? Are we supposed to mentally give Riordan's 11 percent to his alleged ally A.S., or to someone else? ... 3:30 A.M.

Arnold Schwarzenegger (along with 59 percent of his fellow Californians) voted for Prop. 187, which attempted to deny various social services to illegal immigrants. thinks this is of earth-shaking significance. I'm skeptical. It might hurt A.S. with some Latinos, but it might help him with some conservative Republicans. He hasn't (yet) committed the fatal error of dissembling. ... Update: Beeblogger Weintraub seems to agree: "[It's] possible that independents and moderates in both parties could be turned off if the Democrats mount an aggressive defense of illegal immigration." ...  3:11 A.M.

Isn't the real news in this story that "a source with direct ties" to Arnold Schwarzenegger recognizes the importance of leaking tidbits to Drudge? ... P.S.: For the somewhat embarrassing story of my own sordid dealings with California Democratic party operative Bob Mulholland, click here. ...  2:22 A.M.


Spin me, I'm yours! Maybe Kerry communications aide Chris Lehane really is a genius. Otherwise, how did Adam "Paragraph Six" Nagourney's thin, credulous puffer on the fading Massachusett's senator's latest flailing incarnation ("As Campaign Tightens, Kerry Sharpens Message") get into the New York Times, much less onto the front page above the fold?. ... Nagourney's scoop: Kerry's "invoking Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman"! Wow--that's breaking new ground! ... P.S.: "Campaign tightens" -- great euphemism for losing your lead! ... [Why "Paragraph Six"?-ed. Because the NYT'spoll captured the big story of the 2002 midterms--a last-minute pro-GOP trend--before Election Day, but Nagourney all-too-explicably buried it in the sixth paragraph. Good to see his reporting's just as flabby in the post-Raines era.] 1:55 A.M.

Brown Knows: Tina Brown's columns have been terrific. This one's an exception, suffocated in layers of friendly phoniness.  Does she really think Arianna Huffington's candidacy is a better idea now that Schwarzenegger's in the race? ... 1:43 A.M.

Sunday, August 10, 2003 

What's So Bad About Gray Davis Anyway? Part 3: Here's a Dan Walters column on why Davis is, too, at least partly to blame for the state's energy crisis. In particular,

[w]hen the crisis first arose in 2000 in the form of sharply rising wholesale power costs, Davis and other politicians refused to act decisively to nip it in the bud. California utility executives begged Davis and state utility regulators to allow them to raise rates and sign long-term supply contracts, but officials delayed for six critical months, until the utilities had their financial backs to the wall. Had they acted boldly in 2000, we would not have had such a severe energy crisis in 2001.


Davis, of course, was scared to be associated with something like a rate increase, even if it meant taking a large, longer-term risk. ... At least Davis didn't do something wacky like naming Steve Peace, the Democratic co-architect of the disastrous bipartisan energy deregulation scheme, to a high position as his administration's finance director! ... Oh, wait. ...

P.S.: Here's a March, 2002  Walters piece with a larger critque  of the "leadership" style of Davis and the legislature's Democrats:

At every turn, Davis and legislators did what they thought would get them through the moment with the least political exposure, rather than confront the matter forthrightly.

[Note: I got the first Walters column in a Google search, which led me to the copy posted on a pro-recall site. I've linked to that version only because the March 4 column for some reason doesn't turn up in the Bee's archives. I have no reason to think the pro-recall people haven't posted a complete copy of the actual column--the versions on NEXIS appear to be identical, with only minor changes of the sort editors publishing syndicated columns sometimes make.] 6:25 P.M.


What's So Bad About Gray Davis Anyway? Part 2: Jill Stewart on Davis' latest gesture of friendship to a special interest:

In another horrifically ill-advised move, this one designed to attract massive campaign funds, Davis is expected to sign a Democratic bill giving rich Indian tribes say over the environmental impact of developments within five miles of burial sites---a law almost certain to put a nasty clamp on badly needed housing in California.

Five miles seems at least four miles too many, no? ... P.S.: Stewart also has chapter and verse on "Republican pigheadedness" on the environment, which included opposing a compromise bill to control potentially toxic, "bio-accumulating" chemicals used as in flame retardants. ... There's one mistake Schwarzenegger can easily avoid. ... 6:02 P.M.

What's So Bad About Gray Davis Anyway? Part 1: Daniel Weintraub with a thorough and even-handed piece on the unaffordable pension deal Gov. Davis let become law. Total cost only starts at $10 billion over 20 years.

The legislation began a wave of public employee pension increases at a time when private sector employees were seeing their own retirement benefits shrink or disappear entirely. And the bill relied on a fundamentally flawed assumption -- that state employees, not the taxpayers, were entitled to the fruits of the long-running boom in the stock market.


The law seems to have been predicated on the irresponsible assumption that there would be no stock market bust. Shouldn't politicians be punished for such misjudgments? ... P.S.: Yes, both parties went along with the bill. What does that mean--that the unions have bought both parties? Maybe that's why there's a rebellion against the system! ... P.P.S.: Yes, Davis' negotiator shaved a few dozen million off the total price tag. But it was way too little. And then Davis let legislators slip in an amendment that extended the pension boosts to local governments, at an additional cost of untold billions. No wonder labor backs him. ... Note to Arianna: How is this pension deal George Bush's fault?  5:48 P.M.

California's Missing Candidate, II: An update has been posted below. It turns out that one little-known (so far!) candidate, Joe Guzzardi, is raising the "border control" issue. ... This is exactly the sort of issue that would normally be suppressed in the structured, safe two-party campaign favored by the Al Hunts of the world, but that can be aired in a Hiram Johnson/American Idol recall free-for-all. ... Note to my friend Margaret Carlson, who said, on Capital Gang:

[This] election is an ugly election. It's begun ugly, it will be won ugly if Davis is recalled. And only a celebrity, perhaps, could win it, because you have 60 days, you have to start out with name recognition.

What's so "ugly" about the recall? There's been nothing very ugly so far. The voters are mad at Davis over legitimate issues (including some--e.g.,the excessive power of big campaign donors--that goo-goo types have long been begging national voters to get exercised about). It may get ugly, especially in the anti-Arnold attack phase, but so far it's clean and  highly democratic. There were some nasty whispering campaigns but they haven't seen print.... P.P.S.: 60 days isn't a short time. In the world of the Feiler Faster Principle, it's a long time. The news can be expected to move even faster in this election than others because California voters, perhaps conditioned by reality TV shows, now expect to be entertained! That requires continual plot twists, which the press will be looking for. There's plenty of time for, say, Schwarzenegger's poll ratings to collapse and then revive. Also time for an unknown (Psst:Uzzardi-Ga!) to emerge from the pack. ... General note to East Coast pundits: We're watering the tree of liberty out here. Give us some space! ... 12:35 P.M.


Saturday, August 9, 2003 

Note to Robert Musil: The SUV Schwarzenegger drove in to file his candidacy papers was a regular GMC Yukon or Suburban, not a Hummer. So not only his he now driving domestic, he's moved several MPG closer to Arianna's Prius. ... Arianna was smart enough to recognize the vehicle and only attacked Arnold for driving an "S.U.V." ... Maria Shriver did not look terribly happy at Arianna glomming on to her husband's photo op, however. This behavior could delay any Arnold-Arianna Alliance for a few weeks, or decades. ... Also, as novelist  Roger Simon notes, Arianna doesn't seem to have enough support in the polls at the moment to be worth courting. ... But the night is young and the election (according to the same Time/CNN poll) now looks very close. Expect lots of deals and machinations between now and October 7, especially among the GOPs, who are now suicidally splitting their vote between at least four candidates. ... 5:41 P.M.

Friday, August 8, 2003 

Bustamante's Base: Slot Machines! From today's Washington Post report on the internal debate among senior Democrats about who should be the party's standard bearer in the recall "replacement" election:

[Lt. Gov Cruz] Bustamante, whose feuds with Davis are Sacramento lore, worked to engineer an endorsement from Hispanic elected officials. His supporters quietly made the case that Bustamante will have the resources to battle a movie star thanks to wealthy backers in the Indian casino-gambling industry.

At least he can't campaign on the trite old theme that he's not in hock to any monied "special interests." ... 5:30 P.M.

California's Missing Candidate: Is there any vote-rich niche left unexploited by a candidate in California's gubernatorial recall election? You bet. A big niche. Specifically, none of the major candidates is displaying conspicuous doubts about the state's current policy of acccommodating itself to continued illegal immigration, especially from Mexico. ... It's not as if a "border control" platform wouldn't command substantial voter support, probably even majority support. (California's widely-criticized anti-illegal-immigration Prop. 187 passed by a large margin, remember.)  It's not as if there aren't enough targets to attack:

1) Gray Davis has pledged to sign a bill to allow illegal immigrants to get drivers' licenses. According to reporter Jill Stewart's latest column, the new law "does not even require the illegal aliens to apply for U.S. citizenship or submit to a criminal background check," as did a law Davis vetoed as too permissive last year;

2) "California today extends in-state university tuition discounts to its resident unlawful immigrants, even as we charge over double that amount for American citizens from out of state," according to Victor Davis Hanson in National Review;

3) Republicans, after a temprorary post-9/11 retreat, are once again proposing  measures that would, among other things, retroactively legalize yet another wave of illegal immigrants, providing an obvious incentive for the next wave. ...

As 3) suggests, the Republican party, eager to win Hispanic votes, is no longer reliably speaking up for those who are worried about the immigrant influx. Democrats certainly aren't speaking up for them. Even labor unions, obsessed with replenishing their ranks with immigrants, are no longer standing up for the unskilled workers whose wages are threatened by competition from illegals. ... When you have a strongly felt popular concern that's ignored by the two main parties and stifled as politically incorrect in the established press, you have the conditions for a successful Wallace/Reagan/McCarthy style insurgency. Certainly you'd think an articulate "border control" candidate could rip off 15-20 percent of the vote in a Bustamante/Schwarzenegger/Huffington field. And 15-20 percent of the vote, remember, could still be enough to win on October 7. ... Who will step up to claim this niche and give voice to these voters' legitimate concerns?  Rep. Elton Gallegly, you have 25 hours. ... [Do you agree with this 'border control' cause?-ed. We have to have some limits 1) to help raise wages of low-skilled U.S. citizens; 2) to help prevent California from becoming a Quebec (with France next door); 3) to support social equality, which seems hard to achieve in an open-borders world of educated, well-paid elites and  slums of dirt-poor unskilled laborers.] ...

Update: Gallegly dropped out and is backing Schwarzenegger, according to the L.A. Times. But there's candidate Joe Guzzardi. He doesn't seem too wacky to make his point (though I'm suspicious of the ideology of VDARE, where Guzzardi writes a column). ... P.S.: Schwarzenegger's advisers are associated with former governor Pete Wilson, who wrote the now-radioactive (but popular!) anti-illegal Prop.187. Maybe Gallegly knows something that Guzzardi doesn't. ... P.P.S.: Cruz Bustamante, the Democrats standard bearer, is so fervently anti-187 that he considered Gray Davis' decision to kill the proposition in the courts with a rigged "mediation"  insufficiently hostile to the popular anti-illegal law. This was the issue on which Bustamente broke with Davis  ... Maybe the Schwarzenegger vs. Bustamante election means something, on the "border control" question, after all. ... More: Matt Welch provides detailed  context and perspective  on the border-control issue. He expects the GOP's right-wing (Simon?) to take up the cause. ... 3:34 P.M.

Professor Hasen explains why the recall election might still be delayed (by some federal judge who actually takes the principle of Bush v. Gore seriously!).  ... That would be bad news for A.S.--more time for his candidacy to lose momentum, more time for Davis and the Dems to chip away. ...  12:42 P.M.

Democrats (in disarray!) seem to think that the arguments that failed against Ronald Reagan forty years ago--that we shouldn't elect someone speaks in "platitudes" and lacks the "specifics" and "insitutional knowledge" to be an effective governor, as Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein put it last night on CNN--will work against Arnold Schwarzenegger. They won't--and they shouldn't, as Daniel Weintraub argues. ... Reagan did have more of something than Schwarzenegger seems to have--namely an ideology that served as a guide to the "specifics." It's reasonable to expect Schwarzenegger to fill in the outlines of his philosophy, however idiosyncratic, and to propose a budget solution. But he doesn't need to know all the "specifics" before election day. ...  Democrats are looking into the abyss here. They must have something to throw against Schwarzenegger other than a) the dynamic Cruz Bustamante! and b) increasingly weary goo-goo laments about the messiness of the recall. I think they do. ... Still, Is "No on Recall, Yes on Bustamante" plus a tabloid campaign against Arnold really the best they can come up with? ... Yoo-hoo! Dianne! Some grassroots Democrats are getting angry at you  because you won't step in to save the party. ... You have 28 more hours.Take your time. ...  10:53 A.M.

Thursday, August 7, 2003 

Ariarnold Schwarzenopoulos! This is just a hunch, but why would I not be surprised to eventually see some sort of tacit (or explicit) alliance between the gubernatorial campaign of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the campaign he seems largely to have eclipsed, that of Arianna Huffington? Four reasons: 1) Arianna's a smart operator, and this could be a good way to snatch a dignified semi-victory from the jaws of defeat; 2) The rationale for the alliancecould be their joint interest in ousting Gray Davis and fighting the "special interests" in Sacramento; 3) They are similar types--witty, ambitious, entrepreneurial, foreign-born celebrities with colorful pasts. They probably both shop at the same Pain Quotidien on Barrington Avenue; 4) There is an obvious link between the two camps--namely, celebriphilic left-wing L.A. Times columnist Robert Scheer, who is Arianna's ill-chosen guru on domestic policy matters but who leapt to Schwarzenegger's defense in 2001 when a now-famous Premiere magazine hit piece on the actor was distributed to reporters by the Gray Davis camp. ... Scheer's pro-Arnold column  even began "Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor!" That was a joke, but the praise Scheer heaped on the actor wasn't, including this paragraph:

Why denigrate a man who has been an exemplary community activist? While Davis' hatchet man chose to ignore his many charitable and service contributions over the decades, two are particularly well-known: Schwarzenegger is national chair of the effort to bring sports to inner-city kids and has been a major booster of the Special Olympics. Whatever his failings, and who among us is without, he is a family man seen frequently in Santa Monica in the company of his wife, NBC reporter Maria Shriver, and their four children, doing normal family things. I have observed Schwarzenegger in various settings and have never witnessed a scintilla of the crudeness ascribed to him. Many years ago, I occasionally would run into him at Elaine's restaurant in New York, when he was young Austrian immigrant bodybuilder who was suddenly the toast of the town after winning the Mr. Universe contest. It's amazing to me, after all the worldwide media attention over the following decades, that he survived to be someone this seemingly decent and balanced. [Emphasis added just to annoy Scheer.]

You can take the boy out of Elaine's, but you can't take Elaine's out of the boy. ... Note to A.S.: Arianna could never just flat out endorse you--that would infuriate her left-liberal base. But maybe she could--I'm thinking out loud here--suspend her campaign and release her supporters to choose their favorite anti-Davis candidate, all while she praised you. ... You'd probably have to make some dramatic, programmatic move she could cite and implicitly take credit for--maybe a pro-environment pledge of some sort. And you'd have to give up the Hummer. But those might be smart things for you to do anyway. ... It's worth a call! ... Disclosure: Scheer is quoted saying some skeptical things about the editor of kausfiles here  in Los Angeles magazine. I'm sure they just didn't use all the nice things he said! ...  11:17 P.M.

What's this? A calm and clear NYT report  on the IRS's attempts to fight fraud in the Earned Income Tax Credit program? David Cay Johnston must be on vacation. ... 10:45 P.M.

If you were Arnold Schwarzenegger and were preparing, by your own admission, to combat womanizing rumors, would it be a good idea to describe your wife as "the greatest wife in the world ... a fantastic partner"? [Emphasis on wildly unromantic word added.] ... Just asking! ... 12:27 A.M.

Wednesday, August 6, 2003 

The dam appears to be bursting in the California recall, with Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and maybe Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi defying embattled Gov. Gray Davis and gettiing into the race tomorrow, according to local news outlets. This is more good news for Arnold Schwarzenegger, since all these well-known Democrats will split up the Dem vote, making it easier for A.S. to win a plurality. ... I should think we'll see renewed pressure to bring in Feinstein and unify the party. ... 11:13 P.M.

Three post-Leno questions:

1) Did Arnold Schwarzenegger fake Sen. Dianne Feinstein out of the race? (Would she have made the same decision if she'd known Schwarzenegger was running and a good bet to take the state for the Republicans? Will she now reconsider?)

2)Is it now actually  in Schwarzenegger's interest that Gov. Gray Davis win his suit to be allowed on the "replacement" ballot? (Rationale:If there are other Democrats in the "replacement" race, Davis will split the Democratic vote and make it easier for Schwarzenegger to win. If there are no other Democrats in the race, it's hard to believe that Davis will lose the first, up-down, yes-no "recall" vote and then somehow be able to beat Schwarzenegger in the "replacement" vote.)

3) Is it now in Davis' interest that Sen. Dianne Feinstein enter the race? (Rationale: With a moderate, palatable big-name alternative bringing out the anti-Davis vote, Davis now desperately needs loyal Democrats at the polls.  If Feinstein runs she will denounce the recall and bring out millions of Democrats who will in passing vote for Davis on the recall question before voting for Feinstein on the "replacement" question. If Davis beats the recall because of these Feinstein voters, he stays as governor. It won't matter to him if Feinstein beats Schwarzenegger in a meaningless replacement contest or not.)

More: See Weintraub's seemingly sound blog analysis of why A.S. looks like a winner  right now. (I'm already tired of typing "Schwarzenegger." He's A.S. from now on.) The central question of the hour, of course, is the size and composition of the giant mound of tabloidy scandal material that's about to be dumped on his head, and whether A.S. gets caught in a tangle of lying trying to respond. ... P.S.: Note also Weintraub's reference to a union "edict" against Democrats entering the "replacement" race. ... Labor's anti-DiFi stand is confirmed here. ... Meanwhile, on Leno A.S. specifically identified "unions" with the "special interests" he intends to fight. ... P.S.: The best part of Schwarzenegger's Tonight Show talk was his seeming tolerance. ... He had nice things to say about Arianna Huffington, Bill Simon, Darrell Issa--even Hillary Clinton. Movie stars are congenitally vulnerable to charges of egomania, and that goes triple for action stars, and quintuple for A.S.. Hence it's especially important for him to appear humble, even if it's an act. (Fake humility is still an expression of real humility. Otherwise you wouldn't have to even fake it, right?). ... !0:41 P.M.

Arnold is running! He snookered us all, including Weintraub. Did he snooker his wife too?  ... This misdirection may have been a good way to temporarily lull the various potential anti-Arnold attack machines into inactivity. ... I know I have that back issue of Premiere magazine around here somewhere. ... Will Feinstein now reconsider? It's hard to believe Leon Panetta, sound as he may be, presents the same kind of state-wide counterweight to Schwarzenegger.  ... Schwarzenegger's first mistake? Driving a Mercedes Gelandewagen to his Leno taping instead of a GM-built Hummer. It's not like he saved much on fuel. ... More: Having watched about an hour of local L.A. news, I would say that Schwarzenegger won the announcement day free-media contest by a ratio of about 40-1. His (very skillfully-handled) press conference was covered live. Arianna got a pallid 20-second tape soundbite. ... Of course Kobe Bryant beat Arnold by a similar margin. ... Rule to remember when evaluating past and future anti-Arnold hits: It's not the sex, it's the social equality! Specifically, does Schwarzenegger think he's better (or higher on some pecking order) than the rest of us? ... P.S.: A.S. didn't completely snooker everyone. This week-old L.A. Weekly  column by William Bradley, which I just read, actually holds up, and contains some good details (e.g. the teachers' and prison guard unions are "loaded with Schwarzenegger supporters;" "'The Kennedys don't want Arnold to run this time.'") This week's piece isn't bad either. ... Note to The Note: Bradley's very well-connected with the Schwarzeneggerians. His columns are must "must reading" from here on out. ... 5:05 P.M.

Dick Morris' Briar Patch: Dick Morris says Hillary may have to run in '04 to prevent another Democrat from beating Bush. But Morris is no friend of Hillary. Is he trying to sucker her into the 2004 race with a false analogy to 1968, the better to let President Bush kill off her political career before she has a chance to prove herself in the Senate? Lucianne gives the game away. ... 1:29 P.M.

Morning Recall Roundup: Did Big Labor veto the Democrats' clear, certain strategy for retaining the California governership--namely having Senator Dianne Feinstein run in the "replacement" election--because they couldn't tolerate her vote for an experimental school choice program in Washington, D.C.? It sure looks like it. If so, a churlish neoliberal might say that the unions now deserve whatever they get in the unpredictable recall. ... P.S.:  The well-informed Weintraub thinks Panetta's next in the smoke-filled spotlight, but also thinks Riordan might become the de facto Democratic replacement candidate and unthreatening seat-warmer. ... More: Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez is busy drafting herself for the governership. ... Meanwhile, Arianna's campaign announcement pitch, as reported by Weintraub, is powerful and well-crafted, though it remains to be seen if the complete text reiterates her annoying, condescending view of fighting poverty as a quasi-charitable activity--in which, as far as I can tell, "the raw power of annual government appropriations" would be directed to "groups and community activists who were good at saving lives." ... If Arianna didn't realize that the combination of the 1996 welfare reform (that her supporters loathe) and a tight labor market added up to actual, dramatic progress in fighting poverty in the late 1990s then she doesn't know what progress in fighting poverty is--and indeed, I would suggest, has some need to deny the progress that's been made while she sets about funding her new friends on the left (and establishing a political niche for herself). ... To crudely clarify: I'm for government spending on a) jobs b)training c) health care d) child care e) the earned income tax credit and f) improvements in the public sphere. The trouble with Arianna is she doesn't seem to acknowledge the importance these big government efforts-- nothing intriguing about supporting them!--preferring to talk about "groups and community activists" as if they were some sort of substitute, when in fact their efforts a) are trivial, in comparison b) are often imbued with a misguided left-wing ideology and c) often carry a paternalistic implication at odds with social equality. ... Labor unions were started, after all, in part to protect non-affluent workers from "demoralization at the hands of sentimental almsgivers." No less than George Bush, Arianna seems--in both her Republican and her more recent Democratic phases--to have put sentimental almsgivers at the center of her antipoverty approach. ... Update: Arianna's announcement speech is here. It's neither as condescending nor as stirring as I expected. The attempt to run against Bush by blaming him for California's budget crisis seems especially misguided (and Davis-like):

[T]here can be no doubt that it is the Bush administration, with its tax cuts for the wealthy, its perverted economic priorities, and its cozy relationships with crooked energy companies like Enron that has led California to the brink of financial disaster.

So why did other states manage to  avoid this disaster? 11:52 A.M.

CW Shift Alert! It seems like only a few days ago that WaPo's David Broder was fustily denouncing the California recall as a "perversion," the "byproduct of everything that has gone wrong in our political system," including "media inattention."  But the CW is shifting, because it's becoming clear (as Broder's colleague Rene Sanchez reports) that

[t[he recall appears to be captivating California's notoriously distracted voters like no other political event. Strategists in both parties say there are signs that voter turnout this fall could be enormous. 

Apathy is bad in the Broder world, no? And turnout is good. Before this is over, expect a Broder column condescendingly praising California's citizens for their renewed interest in politics. ...P.S.: The source of the recall's appeal appears to be similar to the source of a PowerBall lottery's appeal or American Idol's appeal: Anyone can play. .... Who needs the American Candidate  reality show, which would bring the American Idol model to politics? This is a real American Candidate, and it's creating a powerful argument for lowering the filing requirements in all elections, so hundreds of citizens can run and new leadership talent can be discovered. ... The only thing really wrong with the recall (and it's probably a fatal flaw) is the lack of a runoff. ...   See also John Fund  making a similar pro-recall point:

California's recall has been ridiculed and reviled as democracy run amok. But nothing has so energized Californians about politics in years. The recall campaign may actually get voters to thinking about what kind of solutions to the state's budget crisis they would support. 

P.P.S.: Alert reader G. emails to argue that it's only the lack of a runoff that is prompting the outpouring of candidates, Without a runoff, after all, you might win with 12 percent--and

the notion of getting 12 percent of the vote doesn't seem so far-fetched. If there was a runoff, those same sort of folks would know they're such long shots that the $3,500 entry fee wouldn't be worth it. 

I'm not so sure the lack of a runoff is crucial. There are several other factors that make this recall uniquely appealing. 1) The low burden of entering--that it only takes $3,500, and 2) the non-partisan nature of the "replacement election" free-for all, meaning that (unlike in a primary) you can get your 12 percent by appealing, not just to the predictable and obedient primary-voting party members, but also by defying the party leadership and launching a trans-party appeal. ... If there were a runoff, in which the leader with 18 percent would face off against the runner-up with 12 percent, wouldn't there be a lot of people jumping in to try to get their 12 percent? ... I suppose it helps if, as with the recall, there is a fractured field with an incumbent who is a) prohibited from running but who b) somehow keeps other well-known figures in his party from entering the race. But even without that unique circumstance, I think the American Idol, low-entry-barrier, free-for all model has something going for it--even with a runoff. ... How about alternating regular, structured, partisan elections with palate-clearing free-for-alls? That's what a regular mid-term recall election would do. ... 2:57 A.M.

Tuesday, August 5, 2003 

An email from Arianna Huffingtion to her "friends" says that tomorrow morning she will "make the leap from analysis to action--from columnist to candidate" in the California governor's race. ... 1) But Arianna's said "If Feinstein runs, I won't"--and if Feinstein does enter the race it's likely to happen just a few hours before the filing deadline on Saturday afternoon. So how can this be anything other than a tentative announcement from Arianna? Or is her Feinstein pledge inoperative? Update: Feinstein says she won't run. But the week is young! 2) Political pros can be somewhat dismissive of Arianna's candidacy, noting her high negaitve/positive ratio. An Arthur Finkelstein poll for potential GOP candidate Rep. Elton Gallegly showed her with "less than 10 percent of the vote," according to Roll Call.  But if you add her 10 percent to her Green Party ally  Peter Camejo's numbers, don't you come up with a potentially willing total? It's not as if you need a majority to win this multicandidate, no-runoff contest--18 percent might do the trick. ... True, Arianna could bomb completely. (Is she really "under pressure from thousands of grassroots activists" to run, as the British Independent reports, or is it more like dozens?) But I persist in thinking the establishment isn't taking her seriously enough. ... 

P.S.-- Hit job on the Greek Express: If you were somebody like Richard Riordan or Gray Davis and did take Arianna threat seriously, what would you do about her? Normally, the answer would be obvious: Take her out with negative ads! (There's plenty of ammo to work with.)  But that probably won't work in this race because a) attacking her might just draw attention to her in a 100-candidate race and actually boost her vote total; and b) the attacks are likely to also hurt the candidate who launches them, as Al Checchi's 1998 attacks on Jane Harman destroyed both Harman and Checchi. That's especially true if the attacking candidate is Gray Davis, who already has a bad enough rep for what the state's Democratic Attorney General delicately called "puke politics." The non-obvious solution? Run yet another candidate, a sort of hunter-killer pol whose sole purpose is to spend millions attacking Arianna, or whomever. If the hunter-killer candidate gets condemned and destroyed in turn, so what--he or she is expendable. Attacks from an obscure independent would do far less to build Arianna up (in the eyes of anti-Davis voters) than attacks from Davis himself. ... It's easy enough to get such a Terminator politician into the race, thanks to the low entry requirement of  $3,500 and 65 signatures. The trick is to make it impossible for the press to trace who put him or her up to the job. ... GOP strategist Lee Atwater was dogged to his death by charges that he arranged for an independent candidate to raise the "issue" of a Democratic congressional candidate's Jewish faith. It could be easier to obfuscate responsibility for any anti-Arianna candidacy precisely because there are so many people who might want to finance it. Too many suspects! ... The other candidates might even cooperate, pooling their money to fund the hit. ... 4:30 P.M.

Sunday, August 3, 2003 

Isn't this sort of thing supposed to happen in the crude, macho U.S.? Emmanuelle Richard, blogging bilingually on the horrible French scandal of the summer. It's worse than Kobe. ... P.S.: I would rely on Emmanuelle's own translation rather than the Google translator, which identifies Bryant as "the star of the marked tennis shoe of rape." [Actually that's kind of evocative-ed. I don't want to have to lawyer this item, OK?] ...  11:14 P.M.

Choke hold: Sen. Dianne Feinstein is the obvious savior of the Democrats in California--but the California Teachers Association "would choke on a Feinstein candidacy" because of her heretical willingness to support program of school vouchers for the District of Columbia, report the S.F. Chronicle's Matier and Ross. The D.C. voucher plan is just a) an experimental pilot program in b) a single city with c) a demonstrably bad school system, but that's still too much for the union. After all, it might work. ... Remedial reading for Louis Uchitelle: In other recall-related news, Governor Gray Davis has finally signed a budget. He gave a speech taking credit  for avoiding harsh cuts. Daniel Weintraub concisely explains why this budget is--yes-- a house of cards based on wishful thinking and sleight of hand that merely postpones the pain!

The bottom line is that by next May, the state will almost certainly be facing a new shortfall of at least $12 billion--the same stubborn structural deficit that the governor and the Legislature have been ignoring since the dot-com crash in the spring of 2000.

Unfun facts: The state may have been $38 billion in the hole, but the budget still "raises the pay of state employees." No wonder the unions like the status quo. ... The budget also depends on "an unprecedented bond the state hopes to sell to repay the $10.7 billion deficit"--a bond issue that looks ever-so-slightly illegal. ... Psst ... : Prof. Rick Hasen thinks the whole Oct. 7 recall election will be postponed  by the courts, but not put off all the way to March, 2004 (as Gov. Davis wants), ... Will the courts also extend the time to file against Davis and thus prolong the Democrats' agony? ...9:53 P.M.

Saturday, August 2, 2003 

Beeblogger Daniel Weintraub, reflecting worries of GOP analyst Tony Quinn, seems to think there's a chance the California Supreme Court will use a strained legal interpretation to intervene and cancel the "replacement" part  of the October 7 gubernatorial recall (meaning that if Gov. Davis loses the recall vote, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante would automatically become governor without an election). I share Quinn's fear of a Bush-v.-Gore like judicial intervention on "stop the madness" grounds. It seems significant that the California court  scheduled written briefsin the case (instead of just throwing it out of court).  Why'd they do that if they weren't willing to be convinced they have a basis for blocking the "replacement" election? ...2:03 A.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.]