Why I voted for Arnold.

Why I voted for Arnold.

Why I voted for Arnold.

A mostly political Weblog.
Oct. 10 2003 7:10 AM

Now, the hard part! (For kausfiles ...)

Plus: The ultimate "Screws Bustamante" scenario.

Recall Recriminations: How off was that notorious L.A. Times poll? The widely-disbelieved LAT poll of 9/12, which showed the California recall race in a virtual dead heat, assumed that white/Latino voters would amount to 82% of the total electorate and that "black/Asian/other" voters would, by implication, make up the remaining 18%. At the time, the competing  Field Poll criticized  this high estimate of blacks and Asians--noting that an oversampling of blacks, a highly anti-recall group, might have skewed the results in Davis' direction. Now it looks like the Field critique was accurate. According the the Edison/Mitofsky exit poll, the recall electorate was 88% white/Latino, and only 13% black/Asian/other. The Timesoversampled this group by almost 40 percent. The Field Poll estimate, in contrast, appears to have been dead on. ... [Isn't this the sort of Times-bashing LAT editor John Carroll  dismisses as "journalistic pornography"?--ed I don't believe the Times' junky poll was a case of deliberate distortion. But it was something. (Insufficient budget? Incompetence? Wishful thinking? Bizarrely bad luck?) So far, Times poll director Susan Pinkus hasn't seen fit to even respond to the impressive Field critique. If Carroll is intent on leveling with his readers, he might require her to at least explain the paper's seemingly strange methodology. She could start by revealing to readers what portion of the oversampled "black/Asian/other" group were blacks, and what percent were Asian, etc. ... Bonus question: How badly do you have to embarrass the paper to get fired at the LAT? ... 4:28 P.M.

A second NYU student has died after jumping off the 10th floor blacony of the Bobst Library's dramatic internal atrium. When I lived in New York, I was terrified of using Bobst for just this reason--fear of succumbing to the urge to jump (or worrying that others would succumb). It's now clear that this isn't just an eccentric phobia--the space is an invitation to suicide, a form of architectural malpractice. Other, similar, spaces include the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, Helmut Jahn's Illinois State Office Building in Chicago, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum in New York (where you have to make an effort not to commit suicide, because the ramp around the atrium slopes down and the balustrade is not high). To construct such a space on a college campus filled with moody and inebriated kids seems particularly negligent. It's all the more inexcusable because there's a model for a skylit atrium that doesn't create such risks--the historic Bradbury building  in Los Angeles, where the balconies surround the atrium are partially terraced, so if you jumped off one balcony, unless you were Bob Beamon you'd just land on the one below. The Bradbury's internal space is just as dramatic as Bobst, but because the risk of falling is smaller, it imparts a feeling of community and peace rather than a feeling of anxiety. ... Prediction: NYU will have to either enclose the balconies or extend the floors to fill the Bobst atrium in. ... Update: They are installing plexiglass barriers. ... 2:54 A.M.

Bill Bradley notes the "two divergent camps"  at the Schwarzenegger victory party:

[T]he Wilson people, moderately conservative Republicans; and the non-Wilson people, who urge on the populist inclinations of the action hero. The two groups didn't mix much. The transition, most everyone agreed, is being designed to emphasize the non-Wilson crowd, and Schwarzenegger is well aware of the need to be his own man.


Once Schwarzenegger has used the Wilson team to show him the ropes in Sacramento, how long will it be before he's tempted to completely dump them overboard in favor of his own crew?  [Do you think he would use people like that?--ed  Hello?] 2:18 A.M.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

How out of it is David Broder? I'd missed this (on the California recall):

This is a flawed process. A man who I was talking to said, "If Leon Panetta's name had gone on the ballot as an alternative, he would be winning this race hands down. But because of this peculiar process there, people are in a dilemma because they don't want to keep Governor Davis as their governor, and they don't really want to see any of these alternatives become governor." -- Meet the Press, Oct. 5, 2003


Huh? How, exactly, was "the process" keeping Panetta off the ballot? If he'd wanted to run, all he needed was $3,500. The "process" was ideal for a respectable moderate like Panetta--a short campaign where he wouldn't have to first appeal to the Democratic primary electorate, where he could add some moderate Republican votes to his natural Democratic constituency. Panetta wasn't on the ballot because he didn't have the guts to run. ... I actually think he might have done well, if he could have gone beyond the platitudes about "tough choices" he favors on TV. But he seems to have disagreed. ... 9:18 P.M.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Battle of the lame post-recall cliches:

1. 'Earthquake' -- 91 NEXIS hits in the past week. (Includes 3 hits for '10 on the political Richter scale')

2. 'At the end of the Robert Redford film, The Candidate, ...'-- 29 NEXIS hits 

3. 'Now the hard part' --9 NEXIS hits

Needless to say, the L.A. Times has featured all three. (Earthquake, Hard part, Redford). ... Additional nominees accepted. ... 3:06 A.M.


OK? Can we raise taxes now?

HANNITY: All right. Let meask you, what are the areas, if you're going to be cutting and you're going take a no new tax pledge, what are the emergency situations that would trigger your consideration of a tax increase?

SCHWARZENEGGER: The emergency situation means that if there's a terrorist attack on this state, if we have an earthquake ...

--Interview on Hannity & Colmes, 9/25/03

"Magnitude 4.3 Quake Strikes in Desert Area South of Border"

--L.A. Times story, yesterday.

2:59 A.M.

How long before California Democrats, in their recriminations, turn the blame against popular U. S. Senator Dianne Feinstein? She could have saved them from the Davis debacle--if she'd entered the race she almost certainly would have won; Schwarzenegger might well have stayed out. (He didn't announce until she'd made her decision clear.)  But Feinstein was too big a fuddy-duddy to countenance the idea that a nasty recall could disrupt her life. ... 2:45 A.M. 


The Brady Hunch: Punch-card foe Henry Brady of Berkeley now claims that 176,000 votes were lost in the recall election due to punch-card balloting systems. But if the S.F. Chronicle's report  is right, he gets this figure by comparing total ballots cast with total votes on the yes/no recall. Ballots without a vote on the yes/no question are presumed to be votes that were cast but somehow not counted due to malfunctioning voting mechanisms.  But why weren't they intentional abstentions--for example, Latino Bustamante voters who hate Davis but couldn't bring themselves to vote "yes" on the recall, or who just rushed to the second part of the ballot? Here's the Chronicle's explanation:

Part of the difference resulted from voters who chose not to vote on the recall, but based on past experience, most of the disparity consisted of votes that were cast but not counted, Brady said.

I don't see how Brady knows this. True, the number of "missing" votes varies between counties. But the big counties with punch cards (i.e. Los Angeles) also seem to be counties with large Latino populations that may have abstained in the manner described above. Brady would have to figure out some way of correcting for the proportion of Bustamante voters, or any other supporters of other candidates who might abstain on some other basis. That L.A. County showed even more missing votes than other punch card counties ("nearly 9 percent" versus an average of 7.7 percent) suggests that some factor other than punch cards was at work. ... I await Prof. Hasen's  upcoming column, or a link to Brady's full study. But a previous Brady anti-punch-card study was so flawed it left Harvard Prof. Laurence Tribe, who had to defend it in court, humiliated on national television by Judge Alex Kozinski. And Brady's rush into the headlines--in time to let the obnoxious ACLU attorney Mark Rosenbaum declare a "defacing of democracy"--is not reassuring. ... 2:07 A.M.

Thursday, October 9, 2003


Fusion power: The Schwarzenegger transition team was just named. (See Weintraub  and LAT.) My socks are still on--and I guessed only one, Willie Brown--but it's refreshing and it isn't "politics as usual." Tammy Bruce  is in the house! And Susan Estrich too. ... 3:42 P.M.

No democratic disaster: It seems like only weeks ago that opponents of the California recall were complaining that a successor to Governor Davis could win with only a 'tiny minority' of the vote.  It's worth noting that, in the event, not only did successor Arnold Schwarzenegger get more votes (3,744,132) than Davis (3,562,487), he also got more votes than Davis got in November, 2002 (3,469,025)  when Davis won reelection. ... Almost a million more people (4,416, 280) voted to recall Davis than voted to reelect him last year. ...  I would think the recall--sorry, the "nearly unprecedented perversion  of representative government"--will now be hard to de-legitimize. ... [Thanks to reader B.W.] ... Update: Do these totals include all the absentee ballots? Good question. (Answers welcome.) According to an AP story filed this morning today there are still 900,000 absentee and "provisional" ballots to be counted, which if true will pesumably make Schwarzenegger's win even bigger. ...

P.S.: Michael MacDonald argues  that Davis might have gotten more than Schwarzenegger if you credit him with the 370,000 (ugh) undervotes on Question 1 (voters who voted in the replacement race but didn't cast a measurable vote on the initial yes/no recall). But why can't these undervotes, as friend of reader L.G. suggested, reflect Bustamante voters who disliked Davis but couldn't bring themselves to vote "yes" on the recall, and so just skipped the whole first question? ...

P.P.S.: I expected the misguided East Coast anti-recall harrumphers to quietly change their tune once the massive anti-Davis vote became clear. (After all, turnout is good in David Broder's world, and the people are always right, aren't they?)  To their credit, both Broder and George Will  have perversely kept up their misguided anti-populist harrumphing even as it becomes clearer and clearer that they are clinging to a reified concept of elections (i.e. they must always have fixed terms) that's not necessarly justified at the state and local level [in this fast-paced Internet era?-ed. Yes, that].

P.P.P.S.: Marc Cooper, a man of the left, makes most of these points and more in a  strong, gloating column taking apart the party-line defense of Davis. There's a nice graf directed at Moveon.org:

Face it. Just about everything liberal activists said about the recall, just about every Cassandra-like prediction spooned out by the party hacks at MoveOn.org, failed to materialize. Far from being a Republican "power grab," the recall election culminated as a raucous festival of direct democracy. Turnout was much greater than in November. The voting system didn't collapse. No Hurricane Chad ripped through the counting rooms. No masses of people of color were disenfranchised. Thousands of not-very-confused-at-all citizens did not mistakenly vote for Gary Coleman instead of Cruz Bustamante.

And there's a rifle shot at Cooper's L.A. Weekly colleague, Harold ("Latino labor leaders will save the Dems") Meyerson:

The wheels of Miguel Contreras' and the County Labor Federation's much-vaunted multimillion-dollar get-out-the-vote machine flew off when it crashed head-on with the rank and file. Half of union households voted for the recall, 4 of 10 directly for Schwarzenegger.

Meyerson makes excuses here. ... 1:07 A.M.

A year ago: Sept. 18, 2002, to be exact. ... Bill Bradley had the scoop on Schwarzenegger's ambitions, and the L.A. Times was blowing the story.  Seems like only yesterday!... Some eerie prescience here. ... 3:53 A.M.

This Scruz Bustamante good! Three questions:

1. Doesn't California governor Gray Davis blame his lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante, for costing him the recall election by entering the "replacement" race? (The argument would be that Bustamante's Democratic fans didn't vote "No on Recall" as instructed--they voted "Yes" on the recall in the hopes of getting Bustamante, but would have voted "No" if he hadn't been on the ballot.)

2. Can't Gray Davis really screw Bustamante by resigning a few days or hours before Arnold Schwarzenegger takes office, thereby making Bustamante governor for a few days or hours, after which Bustamante would (under one statutory interpretationnot return to being lieutenant governor but instead be completely out of a job?

3. Isn't Gray Davis rumored to be a wee bit vindictive?

P.S.: Lawyer Frederic Woocher thinks Bustamante could avoid this fate by simply refusing to take the oath of office for the governorship. But that would leave the governor's office empty for the interim. Isn't it more likely that Bustamante automatically succeeds Davis, whether he likes it or not--and then has to find a job? ... P.P.S.: What job? I don't think he could replace Roy Horn. Too tasty! ... How about announcer in an Indian casino? ... . 12:53 A.M.

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

The Schwartzman Test: A man named George B. Schwartzman finished a suprising ninth in the California recall race with 10,945 votes, right behind Gary Coleman. It's not hard to figure out why. Blogger Matt Wall (a judge on a local election board) says this shows "the voting system has systematic error built into it"--big enough, he notes, to have decided Florida in 2000. ... But was this an error that could be fixed by any kind of voting system? Did voters try vote for Schwarzenegger but accidentally vote for Schwartzman because of a confusing ballot? Or did they not remember Schwarzenegger's name and actually vote for the name they intended (misguidedly) to vote for? The second type of error can't be blamed on punch cards, or ballot design, etc. ... The interesting study to make--attention, Rick Hasen--would be a comparison of Schwartzman's showing in areas with different voting systems. It's pretty clear that a higher Schwartzman vote means a higher error rate. If he did better in punch card districts, that would be evidence against punch cards. ... Update: Alert reader R.E. has taken up the Schwartzman Challenge, and reports:

There were 0.29 votes for Schwartzman for every 100 votes for Arnie overall.

For Optical systems, there were 0.24 /100 Arnie votes,

for Punchcards 0.35 /100 Arnie votes, and

for Touchscreens 0.28 /100 Arnie votes.

It doesn't look good for punch cards. But is this differential Schwartzman Rate statistically significant (which is a different question from 'Is it worth stopping an election over?')? Are the results skewed by education levels? R.E. reports: "I've done some more advanced analysis of the information (the details of which I'll spare you) which finds that punch cards do seem to have a significant effect on error rates, in a statistical sense." So there. ... More update: Reader S.S. notes that, if it wasn't just a name confusion, you should expect to see a higher-than-expected total for Lawrence Steven Strauss, whose name appeared on the other side of Schwarzenegger. And you do! But not by as much--he got 4,402. Still, adding a Strauss Test gives an indication of what part of Schwartzman's windfall is attributable to mechanical voting error (about half?) and what part to un-fixable name confusion. ...Note: Names that started with the same letter were not listed on the ballot in alphabetical order within that letter grouping. Schwartzman was just lucky to get a slot next to Schwarzenegger in the "S" group, apparently. ... 10:35 P.M.

What will Gray Davis do now? Best reader suggestion, from S.K.:

He'll reappear at the Mirage in Vegas, as the newest half of "Siegfried and Gray."  Will be immediately dragged offstage by tiger, despite spinning by Davis aides and the LATimes that tigers were warming to him.

Update: Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come!  ...8:15 P.M.

Gary Coleman did quite well. Finished eighth and trounced Gallagher. ... 8:11 P.M.

Socks ready: Schwarzenegger's acceptance speech was a missed opportunity to inspire, I thought. Don't say you're reaching out. Reach out! But at the Century Plaza celebration afterwards, some Schwarzeneggerians promised the transition team to be announced Wednesday [Update: Thursday Update: Friday ] would "knock your socks off" with its left-right fusion power.... "Who's on it?" I asked. "Jerry Brown?" No. But I was "close." My guesses: Leon Panetta? ... Tom Hayden? .. . Al Checchi? ... Willie Brown? ... Steve Jobs? ... Sidney Harman? ... former state Controller Kathleen Connell? ... I guess  Paul Maslin  probably blew his chance to make the list. ... 2:10 A.M.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Tomorrow's Los Angeles Times headlines today:


8: 24 P.M.

Why I voted for Schwarzenegger: Andrew Sullivan says I'm a "wuss"  for not explaining how I voted in the California recall. My editor wants an explanation too. Fair enough. Here goes.

First, a potential bias disclosure: Voting is not an entirely rational process. Even as I'm sitting down to write this, all my instincts tell me to vote for Schwarzenegger. Many journalists I respect are for him. The journalists I like to have as my enemies are against him. My Democratic friends think I'm insane, which lends a little contrarian frisson to life. Falling in behind the Democratic party line would be no fun at all. You should know all these biases and discount what follows accordingly.

1) Davis: I should like Gray Davis. He's a relatively conservative Democrat. I agree with most of his "positions." The two main complaints against him are both process complaints, but they are very powerful.

a) He runs a corrupting "pay to play" administration:  You give him campaign contributions, you have a chance of getting a decision your way. Virtually everyone, including most of the Democrats now defending Davis, agrees with this charge. For decades, goo-goo reformers have written op-eds calling on the people to rise up against the corrupting influence of campaign contributions. Well, in California the people are finally rising up against the corrupting influence of campaign contributions. Where are the goo-goos?

 b) He's weak and won't risk losing votes: Specifically, he hasn't stood up to powerful Democratic interest groups, especially public employee unions, or to the Democratic legislature. He relies on polls to tell him what he should do. In two big crises--the budget crisis, and the electricity crisis--these instincts led him to dawdle when he needed to take firm action (spending cuts, small electrical rate hikes) that would have produced huge long-term benefits for the state at the expense of short-term political opposition (from unions and consumer groups). The textbook poli-sci reasons for opposing mid-term recalls--that leaders should be able to do unpopular things that will pay off eventually--are particularly inapposite when applied to Davis, who is terrified precisely of doing potentially unpopular things that will pay off eventually.

For decades, New Democrat reformers have been trying to free the party from the grip of powerful constituencies--not only unions, but seniors and civil rights lobbies--that increasingly stand in the way of achieving the party's larger goals (which I would define as social equality, a society where you don't need a big income to live a decent life as an equal). But a New Dem who can pull that off will have to be strong enough to take some risks and endure short-term pain.

It doesn't help that, in Davis' desperation to save his job, he has caved to the party's left and signed ill-considered legislation a) giving drivers' licenses, and thereby de facto amnesty, to illegal immigrants and b) imposing an expensive health care mandate on small businesses in what is probably a futile, Arizona-benefitting attempt to achieve in one state what needs to be achieved nationally.

Does the punishment of a humiliating recall fit Davis' crimes? Maybe not. But the issue isn't fairness to Davis. It's the future of the state. If the voters brutally and unfairly punish a state-of-the-art pol who overspends in boom times and puts off tough decisions until after he's reelected, that doesn't seem to me a terrible precedent to set. It seems a useful precedent.

2) Schwarzenegger:  He's a social liberal and fiscal conservative, with a touch of environmentalism thrown in. What's not to like? More important, in a bit of luck Schwarzenegger couldn't have planned, he can legitimately trumpet virtues that correspond exactly to Davis' flaws. Yes, he takes money from business special interests--but he's nowhere near as dependent on shaking down interest groups as Davis, who has no independent base of popular support. Plus, Schwarzenegger has singled out two especially powerful lobbies--casino tribes and government employee unions--for adversarial treatment. (See his appealing 100 day agenda.)

Bruce Cain, the overquoted Berkeley professor, was just on television sneering that the recall doesn't get California any closer to solving its problems. What an idiot. Schwarzenegger as governor will have weapons Davis doesn't have, the most important of which is the ability to go over the heads of the legislature and rally public support--behind a ballot initiative, if necessary. He might even be able to threaten to go into legislators' districts and campaign against them (although the state is so heavily gerrymandered there may be no unsafe "swing" districts left). You want to amend the state Constitution to get rid of the paralyzing requirement that two-thirds of the legislature approve any budget? Schwarzenegger is the man who can do it. You want a tax increase if cutting the budget isn't enough to close the deficit? Schwarzenegger's the man for that too. As a nominal Republican, he is in a position to attract at least some Republican votes for a budget package that includes both taxes and cuts. And if even an anti-tax candidate like Schwarzenegger tells the voters some increases are needed, they're more likely to accept it from him than from a Democrat whose first instinct is to pay whatever it takes to avoid public employee layoffs.

The difficult problems with Schwarzenegger have to do with his character--not even his credentials or abilities. He's certainly smart enough--if you interview enough politicians, you realize that a) they're not so brilliant (Willie Brown is an exception) and b) you can be a good leader even if you're not brilliant. Schwarzenegger is also, by all accounts, geniunely funny, with an instinct for honesty. (Can you imagine Bill Clinton saying "Where there's smoke, there's fire" when confronted with sexual harassment allegations?) But Schwarzenegger has two really troubling characterological defects.

a) He's a crude serotonin victim who enjoys bullying men and women alike. Everyone knew there were stories like the LAT presented last week. I've heard more. He's not a groper the way Clinton was a masher--Schwarzenegger seems to actually have a cruel streak. He enjoys toying with and humiliating others. With women, there's a sexual component--but there are plenty of stories of him humiliating men. (And at least one of the groping incidents seems designed to humiliate the woman's husband more than the woman.)

b) He may not even be a social egalitiarian. This is one way to reconcile the accounts from famous actresses of "Arnold the Gentlemen" and the repulsive stories told by "below the line" film personnel. Of course Schwarzenegger's charming to the people he needs to be charming too--such as fellow movie stars. But he lords it over people he can lord it over when he can get away with it. Let's just say this hierarchical behavior is not un-Germanic. But it is un-American. You'd think it would be especially troubling to someone, like me, who proclaims social equality the distinguishing goal of liberal politics.

O.K. It is troubling! Schwarzenegger puts to voters, in a particularly sharp way, the same question Clinton put to voters: Can you separate personal failings from performance in office. Except that in Schwarzenegger's case the dilemma is worse, because--as an LAT editorial perceptively noted--Schwarzenegger's flaws are the very things that might actually help him perform better in office. Maybe a governor who is manipulative and mean is just the man to subdue the unions, the casino tribes and entrenched, free-spending legislators.

I'm willing to take a flyer on that possibility, given the possible upside virtues, comforted by the knowledge that--thanks to the Constitution--Schwarzenegger can't use his governorship as a steppingstone to the presidency. It's only a state we're talking about! (That's another reason the poli-sci argument against mid-term ousters of temporarily-unpopular leaders doesn't apply with much force.. We're not talking about booting a Lincoln in the middle of a Civil War. We're talking about a car tax.) If Schwarzenegger flies into a fascistic, steroid-fueled rage--well, he doesn't have his finger on the button. He can't suspend the bill of rights.

In a perverse way, I think Schwarzenegger's character defects may even serve as a valuable protection against the dangers of his ascendancy. It's not just that he will be on his best behavior toward women, or that he will take special care not to come across as an authoritarian who disrespects the "little men" and "losers." It's that the defects in all their ugliness are now visible to everyone--they've done their damage, making it impossible for him to think about building the sort of cult of personality his Nuremberg-rally fantasies might otherwise tempt him to build. We know he's a pig. We're not going to love him. If he's going to keep our loyalty it will have to be by producing actual results: a slimmed down government, a balanced budget, better schools, a better business climate, etc.

And if he doesn't--hey, we can always recall him.

Note--"Do It Once. Do It Close Enough." I'm publishing the first acceptable draft of this, intending to add and amend as part of kf's Mercedes-like policy of continuous improvement. So check back--it might get more persuasive! ... 7:53 P.M.

More Schwarzanoia: The tape of the 2000 show on Britain's Carlton TV in which GOP gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger allegedly got "rowdy" on host Melanie Sykes just happens to be unavailable, according to the New York Daily News' Rush & Molloy  [$$ req.]. Coincidence--or meticulous advance planning? You make the call!

"Apparently, there's a problem with a batch of tapes, and the Melanie Sykes thing is one," Carlton spokesman Murray Buesst told our Spencer Morgan.

Sean Walsh, chief spokesman for the California gubernatorial candidate, told us: "I don't even know that these alleged incidents [including another with TV personalities Anna Richardson and 'Chicago' star Denise van Outen] took place."

2:54 P.M.

Subversion:L.A. Times humor columnist Roy Rivenburg sneaks in a reference to Gray Davis "throwing ashtrays at subordinates" for the second day in a row. ... 12:44 P.M.

kausfiles dedicates itself to the fight against income inequality: Didn't David Carr's well-written piece on Michael Wolff's attempt to buy New York  bury the lede deep in Paragraph 6?

Although Mr. Wolff, 50, makes more than $450,000 as a columnist for the magazine ...

One of us is living in a dream world. I hope it's me. ... [ Romenesko didn't let this get past him.] 12:10 A.M.

Monday, October 6, 2003

Here's an inflammatory charge that if true could actually get someone fired at the L.A. Times, an event that happens approximately as often as a gubernatorial recall. L.A. Weekly's William Bradley claims that "senior Democratic strategists" were leaked the "particulars" of Thursday's Times groping story "well in advance of the story's publication." That would have given the anti-Arnold campaigns a head start in planning the TV ads and outraged public appearances they've since produced to capitalize on the groping scandal in the five days between the story's publication and the election. ...The leak occurred, according to Bradley, during a period when the details and timing of the piece were supposely known only to a few writers and editors. (The existence of some sort of LAT investigation, as well as its general subject, was known to, roughly, everyone in Western Hemisphere.) ... kausfiles Value Added: How far in advance is "well in advance"? The Weekly story isn't clear on this, so I asked Bradley, who said, "The Democrats had it at least a day in advance, perhaps longer."  .... 10:38 P.M.

Who are you going to believe, the LAT or your own ears? The Los Angeles Times' "grope" story is a feather in its cap, in my book, even if it was late. But it doesn't make up for months of generally ponderous, embarrassingly biased and almost willfully misinformed recall coverage. Today, the Times, in the fifth paragraph of its front-page lead recall story, can't even get a key Schwarzenegger quote right, even though it's on video and on the Web. When Tom Brokaw asked A.S. on Dateline last night "So you deny all those allegations about grabbing," Schwarzenegger responded: "No, not all."

He did not respond: "Not at all."

You can view the video clip and hear for yourself. (The clip is about halfway down under the heading "Schwarzenegger fights allegations." The quote is about 4 minutes and 40 seconds into the interview). ... What's the difference between the two quotes? The accurate quote packs more confessional oomph. And in any case it's what he actually said. The Times misquote makes it look as if he's just batting away an unwanted query...Update: The NBC transcript has the quote wrong, and the LAT seems to have reported the erroneous transcript rather than the reality. ...

P.S.: The misquote is repeated in Marisa Lagos' LAT story of today. Lagos also follows the Davis camp spin, blowing up into some kind of major turning point a mild net shift in "firmness" in the latest Knight Ridder poll.

Davis did get a boost this weekend: less than a week after two polls showed the recall and Schwarzenegger succeeding by a healthy margin, a Knight Ridder and NBC poll has detected a change in the tides. [Emphasis added.]

In fact, the poll showed the recall winning by 13 points, 54-41. The "tide" shift was a switch in the "definiteness" of the recall support. But oposition to the recall got less "definite" too, and both conclusions were based on a comparison of weekday numbers with numbers for Friday and Saturday nights (notoriously weird nights for polling because people are out). ... The Davis campaign has grasped at this thin lifeline and, gee, the L.A.Times has too! In contrast, the Contra Costa Times'  excellent unspun report  on the same poll concludes, "Absent a last-minute surge, voters Tuesday will oust Davis." ...But see: Weintraub, who thinks the trend is real, but relies on a different poll (from the prison guard's union) .. 2:59 P.M.

Schwarzanoia strikes deep: Was he behind the recall all along? Why do I sometimes get a distinct feeling that the series of events leading Arnold Schwarzenegger to the brink of the governorship has been much more of a meticulously-planned operation than we suspect? Let's see:

1) Reporters search for possibly damaging outtakes from the 1977 film Pumping Iron, and they just happen to have been bought by one Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1991 ...

2) Schwarzenegger is plagued by suspicions of anti-Semitism, and his father's Nazi background, and he just happens to donate more than a million dollars to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, whose founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, just happens to give him a clean bill of health ...

3) Arnold is threatened by a tabloid story in 2001--indeed, it's widely believed that this is one reason he doesn't run for governor back then. But in 2003, all of the American tabloids are under the control of a single corporation, American Media Inc--which just happens to pay $350 million  to acquire the muscle magazines of Joe Weider, Arnold's mentor, giving American Media's CEO ample reason to "lay off" Arnold, as Weider actually says the CEO promised to do!

4) A man named George Butler becomes the key source in the Arnold/Adolf brouhaha and many other episodes in Schwarzenegger's life--and he just happens to have gotten a large pile of money from Arnold for the sale of his film, Pumping Iron (see 1, above) ...

5) In September, when "Nazi" charges might be expected to surface, an article just happens to appear in a German Jewish magazine describing how the young Arnold disrupted a neo-Nazi demonstration in Austria.

6) Finally, and most significantly, Schwarzenegger is a social moderate with a scandalous past who experts predict would lose in a GOP primary to a social conservative. Even if he got the GOP nomination he probably wouldn't survive a long campaign in which his past could be chewed over. But it just happens that, after the regular 2002 campaign (in which Republicans do indeed pass over a popular, moderate social liberal) a recall petition starts up, which qualifies for the ballot and gives Schwarzenegger the sudden, unprecedented opportunity to get elected in a short campaign with no party primary! What luck! 

Am I suggesting that Schwarzenegger might have planned the recall from the start to benefit himself? That's absurd--everyone knows the recall was bankrolled by Rep. Darrell Issa, who was intending to run for governor himself. Schwarzenegger only decided to run once the recall had qualified, making the decision almost impulsively before an appearance on the Jay Leno show--and after Senator Dianne Feinstein just happened to drop out and Mayor Richard Riordan just happened to dawdle. ...

Why would I think that this might not have been the biggest streak of favorable coincidence since Eddie Murphy wound up elected to Congress in Distinguished Gentleman? That Schwarzenegger might from the start have been somehow behind the whole recall movement that was his only plausible route to power and might well lead to his election tomorrow?I mean, it's not as if one of the attorneys for Rescue California, Issa's group that gathered signatures to put the recall on the ballot was also Schwarzenegger' attorney in the controversy over his B-1 visa. ... Oh, wait! ...

So, yes, I do think there is a distinct possibility that we're going to wake up some time after October 7 and realize that Schwarzenegger planned this whole thing out like a Hitchcock movie (except for the LAT's unexpected last-minute demonstration of [Spanish slang for "guts"]) ... "I haven't lived my life to be a politician," he says. O.K. Would you believe the last decade? ...

P.S.: I forgot. He married a Kennedy. ...

Bonus tangent: I just noticed something about  2) and 5). When defending Schwarzenegger in the New York Times, Rabbi Hier describes the actor  inquiring about his father's membership in the Nazi party.

"Arnold said, 'What did it mean to be a member of the Nazi Party?' " Rabbi Hier recalled. "I explained, 'Look, any son who finds that his father was a member of the Nazi Party is not something to be proud of.' "

But if Arnold had already been righteously breaking up Nazi rallies in the Graz of his youth, why did he need to ask Rabbi Hier what it meant to be a Nazi?  Presumably he knew, no? ... 6:23 A.M.

Rare and perhaps ill-considered kf venture into the Plameout scandal: Was it MSNBC's own Chris Matthews who started the Frog March by giving Joseph Wilson the idea that Karl Rove was out to get him? That would seem to be one reading of Newsweek's account. ... 4:04 A.M.

No more women in LAT today. Whew! ... And the Times' Roy Rivenburg manages to sneak in a reference  to "a 1997 New Times report that Davis allegedly hurled an ashtray at a female staffer." But it's in a humor piece. ... Update: But here's a non-LAT woman  represented by press-addict Gloria Allred.  Not so fast: But she seems to have some credibility problems, and in this case Schwarzenegger has specifically addressed and denied her claims. Drudge is on this story.....3:01 A.M.

This Bud's for Cruz: I got a taped call from Al Gore last night. There was something strange about it. Here's what it said:

GORE'S VOICE: This is former vice President Al Gore calling to urge you to vote no on the recall. Gray Davis has been a solid progressive governor and deserves to finish out his term. We simply cannot let the right wing Republicans roll back the progress California has been making under Governor Davis. It is very important that you vote no on the recall. Also, as insurance against a strong pro-recall turnout, and to keep a Democrat in the governor's office, continue on the ballot and vote "yes" for Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante to keep the governorship in Democratic hands. So remember, vote no on the recall, and then vote for Cruz Bustamante, who is located on your ballot under the letter "B." Thank you.

WOMAN'S VOICE: Paid for by Progressive Democrats and Independents against the recall. Major funding by Anheuser-Busch.

So what was strange about it? The last line--"Major funding by Anheuser-Busch." What's America's largest brewer doing going to bat for Gray Davis and Cruz Bustamante? Is that legal? Maybe so--perhaps the cost is somehow apportioned between the "recall" message and the "Bustamante" message in a way that gets around whatever campaign limits apply. But is it smart? Anheuser-Busch has put its name and its precious brands, nurtured at a cost of billions of dollars, behind two of the most unpopular politicians in the nation's largest state. How does that make business sense? Aren't opponents of Davis and Bustamante--probably a majority of the population--going to think twice about ordering up a Bud? Even if they're only 40 percent of the population, does Anheuser-Busch want to alienate 40 percent of the market? And what about proud "right-wing Republicans"? Don't they drink beer? ... Possible explanation #1: Maybe Anheuser-Busch executives don't know their company's name is being used in the phone calls. But shouldn't they? ... Possible Explanation #2: Or maybe they figure that in heavily Democratic Venice, where I live, most recipients of the call will think more highly of them because of the Gore/Democrat association. (Perhaps they're sponsoring similar phone messages from Tom Selleck targeted at Republicans in Simi Valley.) But that sort of stealth-targeting strategy would depend on nobody writing a story revealing Anheuser-Busch's actions to a larger audience. ....P.S.: First line on the Anheuser-Busch Web site:

Welcome to the world of Anheuser-Busch, where making friends is our business!

Not in Recall Country! ... P.P.S.: Maybe Anheuser-Busch knows the state legislature will stay Democratic--and A-B is "paying to play" in the coming debate over whether to raise taxes on beer, wine and liquor (which Schwarzenegger adviser Pete Wilson raised when he was governor). ...More: Alert kf reader E.K. has a clever third theory, really a variation of Explanation #2:

[T]there is roughly zero likelihood that proud "right-wing Republicans" will listen all the way to the end of a 30-second recorded telemarketing pitch by Al Gore.  Hence, it's a form of affinity advertising that is conveniently self-targeting.

2:35 A.M.

I was so wrong to suggest, below, that by dribbling out the stories of Schwarzengroping victims in twos and threes the Los Angeles Times would "lessen their impact."  In fact, the daily announcement of new victims has kept the story alive, forced Schwarzenegger to keep responding (and tempted him to waver from his appealing apology strategy), given his opponents new excuses to ratchet up their criticisms, and given the press a convenient "mounting" body count to keep updating and new rounds of self-fulfillling  "process" stories recounting how Arnold has lost another day of campaigning. ... Duh! ... The Times violated its old scandal-killing "Do It Once, Do It Right" creed and the result has been scandal-magnification. ... 1:00 A.M.

L.A. Weekly'sBill Bradley--now a blogger, but you knew that would happen--says "both Republican and Democratic sources say that the prison guards' union ... has a new poll showing sizeable leads for both the recall and Schwarzenegger." Not clear when the poll was taken. Bradley notes, correctly I think, that "even reporters who are writing that Schwarzenegger is in serious trouble say they expect him to win."  Update: Weintraub says  the daily tracking numbers in the prison guards' poll did show a drop in recall support (from 63 to 54) after the Schwarzengroping revelations, and he seems to think the trend is real even though it depends on shaky Friday and Saturday polling. ...12:42 A.M.

Sunday, October 5, 2003

Jill Stewart raises a relevant question  about the L.A. Times:

Who did the editors assign, weeks ago, to investigate Davis' violence against women who work for him?

I assume the editors assigned some people a few years ago when the incidents occurred, and the stories couldn't be proven on the record. But didn't the Times have an obligation to go back and reinvestigate, given their D-Day like assault on past Schwarzengropings? Applying the same sourcing standards they applied to Schwarzenegger? Maybe people who weren't willing to talk before changed their minds.... P.P.S.: I'd argue that editor John Carroll should also tell us if he did try to check out the Davis violence story and couldn't. But editors don't discuss the stories that haven't checked out for fear of unfairness, you say? Not when it comes to Schwarzenegger--Carroll freely referred to uncorroborated examples of groping  to justify his paper's coverage:

John S. Carroll, the editor of the Los Angeles Times, rejected criticisms Thursday that an article detailing six instances of sexual harassment by Arnold Schwarzenegger was unfair to the Republican gubernatorial candidate, and he said the newspaper had collected even more examples but had not printed them because it had not had time to corroborate them.

3:17 A.M.

You want polls? Two slightly divergent new surveys:

1) Just-released results from the intriguing Knowledge Networks poll, which attempts to replicate the actual ballot facing voters, show the recall down only slightly (with 59 percent still in favor, 41 against), and Schwarzenegger's lead over Bustamante increasing slightly, to 43-30. ... Democrats have been  gradually coming home to the anti-recall position, however--contrary to what the NYT suggests ... The poll was take from 9/26 to 10/4, straddling the big LAT grope story. "Interviews collected since the Oct. 2 revelations do not show a decrease in support for the recall initiative," according to the poll's press release. ...

2) The Mercury News/NBC 11/Knight-Ridder poll has the recall winning 54-41, but the fraction of people who say they "definitely" would vote for it fell over the course of the past week. Update: Alert reader R.M. notes that the fraction who say they "definitely" will vote against it also fell over the same period, though the trend is not as pronounced. ... And Weintraub has some plausible methodological objections to the end-of-week sample. ...More: The Contra Costa Times' far superior report on the same poll catches that nuance, and also a) the crucial role of new voters (the bigger the turnout, the better for Arnold) and b) the poll's findings that, contrary to what kf suggests below, the recall actually does worse if voters think Bustamante will win. They don't seem to want him! "By almost every measure, the Bustamante candidacy has been a bust." writes Daniel Borenstein. This poll finding also calls into question Davis' strategy of pooh-poohing Bustamante and trying to make it a "two-man race" with Schwarzenegger as the only alternative..... 1:59 P.M.

Kf has just received a download of campaign buzz from knowledgeable sources. The upshot: 1) Republicans are kidding themselves if they think the continuing Groping and Nazi stories aren't hurting Schwarzenegger. His campaign is certainly behaving as if they are, as Weintraub reports. 2)Both races are tightening, but--as RealClearPolitics predicted long ago--Democrats have a better chance at beating the recall in the initial yes/no vote than Cruz Bustamante has of beating Schwarzenegger in the second "replacement" contest. Even on the recall,everything must break the Dems way for Davis to survive.3) Nobody really believes the polling claims of either camp (Davis' claims the recall race is within a couple of points). There is supposedly a Field poll in the field, but polls taken over a weekend are notoriously unreliable. (Sunday evening, in contrast, is usually a good polling night--but this Sunday night is Kol Nidre, which screws up the measurement of a non-trivial group of voters likely to be especially sensitive to the "Nazi" charge against Schwarzenegger.). ....

P.S.: We need more polls! Accurate last-minute polls would be very helpful to recall voters, who must make strategic decisions that depend on whether they think Schwarzenegger is safely ahead. If Schwarzenegger's lead is shrinking, accurate last-minute polls would probably help him--by encouraging Democrats to recall Davis in the hopes of getting Bustamante, and encouraging McClintock voters to reluctantly switch and bolster Schwarzenegger. But will there be enough prominently-played post-grope polls to achieve this effect? ... Update: Here's one.  ... 1:30 A.M.

When is a late hit a late hit? What's the difference between the "Groping" and "Nazi" stories?

Answer: 1)The Groping story would have had lasting impact on the race even if it had been published a month before election day. Individual 'Arnold-groped-me' stories might be true or untrue--here's today's harvest--but enough are certainly true to make Schwarzenegger's cruelty and piggishness in the recent past something voters should and would want to consider. The L.A. Times was right to publish them. Smoke, fire.  (True, if the stories had come out earlier, that might have given Schwarzenegger more time to respond--but it would have deprived him of the "late hit" defense, as well as at least some of the 2 million absentee ballots already cast.)

2) The Nazi story seems flimsy by comparison. It's a shaky quote from decades ago, taken out of context, that sounds more scandalous than it really is. If it had come out two weeks ago, it would almost certainly have collapsed or faded into near-insignificance by Election Day. Its power derives almost entirely from Schwarzenegger's inability to put it into perspective in the time remaining before the vote. Which is why at least one Democratic activist I know, who supports Davis and promotes the groping story vigorously, regards the Nazi story as an embarrassing late smear, the triumph of last-minute Mulhhollandism (named after the notorious California Democratic Party button man Bob Mulholland, whom I once helped out in what is not my finest moment). ... 1:14 A.M.

Saturday, October 4, 2003 

Gentlemen, Start Your Shredders: Here's a sentence buried in a NYT story--on Gov. Gray Davis' last-minute appointments--that might be news on Monday:

Plan B also has a strong pragmatic component. A state official with knowledge of the situation said the governor's office recently put in an order to the state archives for storage boxes, along with a list of approved vendors for shredding documents.

This could be wholly innocent. Or not! But if Schwarzenegger consultant Mike Murphy can't do something with it--e.g. seeking a showcase Temporary Restraining Order to prevent Davis from shredding state documents--he doesn't deserve his reputation. ... 1:14 P.M.

What Arnold said about Adolf: Bill Adams laces into the NYT for its seeming 180 degree turn  on what Arnold said about Adolf. The following paragraph from today's NYT storyis fairly breathtaking:

According to Mr. Butler's reading of the transcript, Mr. Schwarzenegger followed his comments about Hitler's public speaking by adding, "But I didn't admire him for what he did with it." He did not say, "I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it," as he was quoted in the book proposal and in early editions of The Times. [Emphasis added]

Adams asks:

How long did ABC and the Times sit on this without actually checking its accuracy, by the way?

The problem with the easy condemnation of the Times--something I applaud and engage in myself whenever I can--is the omnipresence of George Butler, the Pumping Iron producer [correction: director] and author of the book proposal in question. Butler seems to have been all over the lot on the Arnold/Adolf issue. By his own admission, he screwed up the transcription in his proposal. ("I am amazed that something like that escaped me.") Also, Arnold Schwarzenegger has paid him a lot of money ($1.2 million, according to the Times) for his film and its storied outtakes.. Did the actor, after making Butler a small fortune, then pressure him to change his tune?  I'd say Butler's word is pretty non-bankable at this point, and resolution of the transcript issue probably awaits production of the actual relevant tape. ... Schwarzenegger, the tape's owner, understandably won't want to release the Hitler snippet to the media for rebroadcast during the campaign's final days, even if it only shows him admiring Hitler's rhetorical chops.  But can't the A.S. campaign play it for a few reporters and put the issue to rest? ... Update:  Reader J.W, a member of the Directors Guild, e-mails to suggest that this bit of 16mm film and corresponding sound tape might be quite difficult to find, depending on how well the outtakes--potentially many thousands of feet of film--were catalogued. But did Schwarzenegger, allegedly a meticulous planner, really buy up this potentially damaging film in 1991 and then not have someone look at the outtakes to see what the potential damage was? ... P.S.: Butler seems to like John Kerry. ... That would bring him several degrees of separation closer to Davis overspinner/hit man/bad karma carrier Chris Lehane, who was Kerry's communications director and who can't be very far away from this story, which seems to be the Official Davis Late Hit. ... 3:55 A.M.

Friday, October 3, 2003

Chum in the Water: Overnight polls show Arnold Schwarzenegger even gaining one or two percentage points since the LAT's grope allegations. But here's the thing: It's not over. Thursday's Times story, as you might expect, prompted a flood of calls and emails from other women who claim Schwarzenegger groped them or was otherwise piggish with them. The Times is feverishly checking out these leads, and there will be another tranche of ugly 'Arnold-humiliated-me' stories in the paper. ... At some point the level of sordidness may rise high enough to do him some damage. ... What's ballpark estimate of how many gropees will pass muster? Dozens. [Not hundreds?--ed. No. Unless they come up with an online gropee registration form--and have you ever tried to register at the LAT?] ... Update: If the Times is going to dribble them out in twos and threes, as in Saturday's paper, that will lessen their impact. Nor is today's batch as sordid. For example, there is this sentence, from a woman who alleges Schwarzenegger "bent her over and pushed his tongue in her mouth."

When Schwarzenegger released her, Baron said, she "slapped him lightly on the face," then pointed a finger at him, saying: "Do not ever do that again without asking my permission," Baron said. Schwarzenegger immediately apologized and didn't give her any more trouble on the set, she said.

6:27 P.M.

Hispanic Hype Corrective, XVIII:

But whatever hope Schwarzenegger had of winning a large share of the Latino [vote] may have been lost when former California governor Pete Wilson (R), a chairman of his campaign, revealed last month that the actor voted for Proposition 187. [Emphasis added]

--Rene Sanchez, Washington Post, three days ago. (Headline: "For Latinos, Recall is a Rare Opportunity: Bustamante Strongly Favored in Community")

While Latino voters continue to prefer [Lt. Gov. Cruz] Bustamante over the actor, the level of support for the Lt. Gov.is not that large (40% to 34%). [Emphasis added]

--today's Field Poll, measuring voter sentiment as of three days ago.

1:33 P.M.

So NU? I don't speak German, but if you trust the translation on FreeRepublic--a site I do not endorse!--then this magazine  says that Arnold Schwarzenegger heckled a neo-Nazi rally when he was a teenager in Austria ... Some of the Freepers themselves are skeptical of the story for journalistic reasons (it relies on the testimony of one 80-year old man). ...It's a strange story in other ways: Could it really have been lying around for weeks in a German Jewish magazine without the Schwarzenegger campaign publicizing it? Was there a reason they didn't? Wouldn't Schwarzenegger himself have told us about this to dispel the persistent rumors--stemming from his Pumping Iron days, and his friendship with Kurt Waldheim--that he was soft on Nazis?. Update: The entire magazine article in original German is available here. Don't make me make my mother translate it! ...Here's a translation: From Scrutineer ... and from Stone Knives See also: BBC report. ... 12:52 P.M.

Steve Sailer expands on the 'Roid-o-causal Theory of Schwarzenegger, drawing the possible connection (which I'd missed) between "his history of bullying both sexes" and the body-building steroids he admits having taken:

What do you think loading up on artificial testosterone does to you? It drives you toward aggression and a need for dominance. Does that sound like anybody we know?

This doesn't seem a crazy theory to me, though I don't know how long-lasting the drug's effects are.  ... Over to you, Sullivan. ... Caveat: Schwarzenegger's only running for governor of California. It's not like he'll have his finger on the button and nuke Nevada in a fit of "'roid rage." And maybe he'll scare Senate President John Burton. [How do you nuke Nevada?Nevada's already nuked-ed. Good point!]... 3:20 A.M.

This attack, coming as late as it does, from a newspaper that has been acting more like a cheerleader for Gray Davis than an objective source of information, will be dismissed by most people as more Davis-like dirty politics.

You couldn't get away with criticizing the New York Times like that on the op-ed page of the New York Times--not on a touchy subject like the paper's bias during a campaign. ... I told Hugh Hewitt the LAT op-ed page was going to get better. ... Update/Semi-correction: It's been pointed out to me that Estrich herself blasted the NYT in the NYT in 1991 over the paper's decision to print a rape complainant's name in the William Kennedy Smith case. I didn't know that. But that is a piece focused on a specific, journalism-school-worthy incident. I still don't think you could say in the NYT what Estrich said in the LAT--that the paper has a general bias for or against one candidate. Have there been any NYT op-eds charging the paper with being a "cheerleader" against Bush? I missed them. .....2:27 A.M.

Thursday, October 2, 2003

Where there's volk, there's mire! 1) Are the fingerprints of the Gray Davis camp on Thursday's LAT groping story? I doubt it. The Times didn't need Davis' help to get hold of that sort of information in Hollywood, and they say they didn't receive it. 2) Are the fingerprints of the Gray Davis camp--specifically, his union backers--all over the attempt to prolong the story by bringing forward a succession of complaining women? You bet, says L.A. Weekly'sSchwarzenophilic Bill Bradley. (How can he be so sure? He's got proof!) .. Update: More evidence. ... .3) And kausfiles recently learned that operatives working out of Gray Davis' Los Angeles headquarters have been busy on the phone rounding up press-feedable quotes condemning Schwarzenegger over  ABC's "Nazi" allegations. (Were these Davis operatives peddling the "Nazi" story to begin with? I don't know. But if a campaign wants to stay away from an unsavory negative hit to avoid being tarnished it usually stays completely away from the unsavory negative hit, no? At least for a few minutes?) ... Scandal fratricide: Will the slightly moldy "Nazi" allegations actually help Schwarzenegger by eating up valuable feeding-frenzy time that would otherwise be used to keep alive the more recent groping/harassment/bullying allegations? 11:33 P.M.

Cable Diary II: Jill Stewart was just on MSNBC's Abrams Report referring to her published New Times L.A. articles  that, she says, charge Gov. Gray Davis with "physically attacking his own staffers, female staffers." Stewart says she was told the L.A. Times didn't follow up on her pieces because it didn't want to rely on anonymous sources! ...  I would think the Times now has a heavy obligation to check out Stewart's reports using the same sourcing standards it applied to Schwarzenegger. Plenty of time left! ... 10:56 P.M.

They don't call it "Hollowood" for nothing: Chris Matthews was just on "Countdown" extolling Arnold Schwarzenegger's funding of "Hollycost Studies." ... Aren't those the things the L.A. Mayor's office puts out to try and stop film production from moving to Canada? ... Groveling P.S. to Matthews: I know you simply misspoke! Easy mistake to make! Like "kindler and genter"! But still a valuable coinage. ... 10:03 P.M.

Peckergate has legs! Aptly-named tabloid kingpin David Pecker's PR man dismisses as "unfounded rumor" bodybuilder Joe Weider's assertion that when Pecker's company bought Weider's muscle magazines Pecker promised to "lay off" Arnold Schwarzenegger. But the resourceful Ann Louise Bardach gets Weider to reconfirm his charge in an L.A. Times op-ed on the tabloid's shame. She also interviews American Media employees who blame commerce, not ideology. ... P.S.: Weider's pro-Schwarzenegger, so why would he say this if it weren't true? ... [Did Pecker's spike make any difference, given today's LAT bomb?--ed Sure. If the story had broken earlier, Schwarzenegger might never have been able to emerge as the frontrunner, and his supporters would be unable to dismiss the charge as a desperate last-minute hit. Despite the Schwarzenegger camp's current complaints, it's hard to believe they actually would have preferred the LAT to have published a non-last-minute hit. ... In any case, all Americans should be concerned when a respected journalistic institution, once a vital part of the "communications stream of conspiracy commerce," is corrupted.] 9:49 P.M.

Rabbi Hier, call for you from Mike Murphy:  ABC News has an old 1975 Arnold interview  in which he violates the Hitler rule of Political Speech (never mention Hitler) in a pretty big way. ... [link via Weintraub ] ...P.S.: At least part of this quote--the "admire Hitler" part--does not seem to be new news. Here's a 1996 article discussing it. ... .. 6:01 P.M.

Gawker likes Grove. 5:15 P.M.

Where There's Smoke There's Fire II: "Closet Wacko"? I'm not troubled by the LAT's use of anonymous sources in it's big Schwarzengroper story. But if the Times had applied the same sourcing standards to Gray Davis that it has applied to Schwarzenegger, could it have come up with something newsworthy? Anti-Davis operatives would be well-advised to seek out an article by Jill Stewart published in the now-defunct New Times Los Angeles in Nov/Dec 1997, titled "Closet Wacko vs. Mega-Fibber." ... Sophisticated opposition research techniques like googling "Jill Stewart" and "Closet Wacko" might turn up a column quoting an unsatisfyingly short passage from Stewart's article. You never know. ... Update: Or you could scour the Web, site by site, for thousands of years, perhaps starting at a site such as windsofchange.net to see if "Armed Liberal" has the whole Stewart article posted. ... 2:42 P.M. 

Where There's Smoke There's Fire I:  Der Schwarzengroper Yes, Arnold's statement was only 65 percent of a complete apology. (In particular, "playful" doesn't own up to the pecking-order cruelty of his actions. They didn't just "offend" people. They were offensive. And not just to "the women.") But count me among those who found it refreshing nevertheless, especially the smoke/fire admission. That's a bit of honesty you didn't find George Stephanopoulous/Chris Lehane deny/discredit/spin playbook for the past decade. ... .... It raises the obvious question: Would history be different if Bill Clinton had been as forthright? Yes, though if Clinton had been as forthright in 1992 he probably would never have been nominated, much less elected. And in January 1998, at the beginning of Monica, Clinton was facing a perjury rap. Admitting to "fire" might well have sunk him then also. (Sure, without the perjury wrinkle, admitting adultery would have avoided a year of scandal. But that wasn't a pre-election situation, when voters feel free to drop a pol who hasn't taken office yet.) ... The unpleasant truth may be that Arnold can only get away with his reponse, if he gets away with it, because the Clinton impeachment trauma raised the electorate's tolerance of sinful male Darwinian behavior. Schwarzenegger stands on the shoulders of the gropers who came before him. ... 2:35 P.M.

The Shoe   drops here, as foreshadowed in the eerily prescient item below. Initial reactions: 1) It seems hard to question the truthfulness of the the complaining women found by the Times--at least 5 of the 6, anyway. And it would be a big mistake for the Schwarzenegger people to try to discredit them, I should think. 2) The A.S. behavior described is ugly, along the lines of what we'd been led to expect. It's ugly in a particular way: he's not a normal horny groper. He seems to have always enjoyed using his star power to humiliate people on occasion. Note: He does it to men too, as the LAT reported on Monday. (Steve Sailer would say this is the steroids talking.) 3) It would in fact be good to have had more reporting on his bullying of men, to put the 'he disrespects women' charge in perspective. Maybe he disrespects everyone when he's in the mood and can get away with it. 4) Do the incidents fit the technical definition of sexual harassment? At least two--involving crew members--seem like good candidates. Another incident, on a street, might be some sort of assault. More legal analysis, please! There's one second-day story.  5) Not that it excuses anything, but prominent national Democrats (and I'm not just talking Bill Clinton) have been accused of not-entirely-dissimilar behavior in the course of their careers. 6)Not that it excuses anything, but there must have been many, many times when this sort of groping "worked"  for him--something the Times, to its credit, hints at; 7) Maybe he has an alcoholic father and Warren Beatty can leap in to defend him; 8)Will it sink him? I tend to think no, not this by itself. But maybe conservative Tom McClintock had an unstated reason for not dropping out; 9) Should it sink him? Ask me tomorrow, after the prudish shock has worn off and I've defined deviancy down for a few more hours.  ... 3:50 A.M.

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Shoe day? Tomorrow would be about the logical last day for the Los Angeles Times to drop its bomb on Arnold Schwarzenegger. If editor John Carroll waits any longer it will look like a late hit designed to stampede the electorate. ... Note to increasingly non-confident Davis aides: Hello? You're not relying on the famously gun-shy Times are you? And you certainly can't rely on the in-the-tank tabs controlled by the aptly-named David Pecker. ... What to do when you're looking to get out all your opposition-researched Arnold dirt without any fingerprints? I have one word for you: D-R-U-D-G-E ... He's a mouse click away! ...Update--Rush Bummer! It may be too late for even that option. Drudge is now occupied  with the surprise Limbaugh scandal, which seems to have been prompted by a story in the National Enquirer. Only a barking paranoid would think that the Enquirer's publisher, American Media Inc., and its aptly-named CEO would try to blot out any possible Schwarzenscandal on this final pre-election weekend by launching a competing, equally large scandal. Woof! ... Post shoe-drop update: Bill Adams has similar thoughts, though he doesn't finger Pecker. He thinks the crowding-out effect will save Arnold, because the Limbaugh scandal, unlike Schwarzenegger's groping, is new news. ...6:49 P.M.

400 Blows: We Got Your Davis Bacon Right Here! Excellent Inland Valley Daily Bulletin report on the 400 or so bills sitting on Gray Davis' desk that he could sign into law even after he loses the recall election.. Arguably, it may turn out that Davis will have more lasting impact as governor because he's been recalled--a prospect that prompted the Democratic legislature to rush these laws to him--than if there'd been no attempt to recall him at all and he'd just served out his term peacefully positioning himself by vetoing liberal legislation.  ... The biggies include: 1) A health care "pay or play" mandate for employers; 2) Financial aid or free tuition for illegal immigrants! 3) A requirement that the L.A. Unified School District only deal with contractors paying "prevailing wages," according to reporter David Drucker. ... Is it just an eerie coincidence that the federal counterpart of (3) is known as the Davis-Bacon Act? [yes-ed] ... Link via Rough & Tumble. ...1:18 P.M.

Worthwhile Futile Initiative: William Bradley recounts his back-channel  efforts to help arrange a Davis-Schwarzenegger debate--a doomed public-interest effort that flew in the face of the zero-sumness of the situation. It couldn't have been in both Davis' and Schwarzenegger's interest to have a debate (assuming McClintock and Bustamante had no chance of winning). Once Schwarzenegger had made it through the Sept. 24 debate (which didn't include Davis) he didn't need to debate Davis anymore. ... Good campaign detail here, though, including the best evidence to date that neither campaign believed the cracked L.A. Times poll  that left the state's biggest paper reporting on a fantasy world of its own creation.

Indeed, both Schwarzenegger and Davis had the action superstar leading Bustamante or at least in a dead heat while some public polls — most notably the Los Angeles Times poll — had the lite guv in the lead. In fact, a very wide lead, according to a notorious Times poll of last month, which both the governor and the movie star discounted out of hand. [Emphasis added]

12:53 P.M.

The price of editing? I was tipped off to the new LAT poll results by an e-mail addressed to both me and the Sacramento Bee'sDaniel Weintraub, whose blog was recently and controversially  subjected to editing. This created an experiment, of sorts, testing at least one of the actual practical effects of requiring bloggers to obtain editorial pre-clearance:

kausfiles (unedited) reports LAT poll results: 5:38 P.M. PST

Weintraub (edited) reports LAT poll results: 9:39 P.M. PST

Advantage: Unedited! ... [Maybe Weintraub didn't care that much about the LAT poll, or he was out to dinner and didn't see the e-mail, or he has higher sourcing standards than you do, or he didn't want to poach on the LAT, or he was working on something else-ed. Sure. Still ... four hours. An eternity in blog time!] 3:14 A.M.

The Brentwood Landslide: I was wrong to cruelly suggest (below) that Arianna Huffington quit the race because "it's less humiliating to get 2 percent of the vote after dropping out than 3 percent staying in." In fact, Huffington's share of the vote was not as bad as 3%, according to the LAT poll. It was worse! ... The Times reports

Arianna Huffington, an independent candidate receives less than 0.5% of the vote.

Ouch! Not 0.5%, mind you--less than 0.5%. A microscopic showing represented on the Times' chart by a symbol that is not a number! ...  If Arianna didn't announce her withdrawal today in order to block out this highly embarrassing news, she should have. ... Note: Huffington did get 2 percent in the Gallup/USAT/CNN poll. ... More: Hasen notes that she is a victim of Duverger's Law. ... Still more: An alert, well-informed kf reader e-mails:

The Arianna story is in the results on questions, in this and other polls, asking who "won" the debate or "did best" or was "most informed on the issues."  Arianna never reaches even close to 10% on debate winner questions.  It's bad when you are an old media hand, you prepare well and play all the tricks that attract attention to you in the debate, and that attention only serves to convince people that you'd be a terrible governor. And who will hold accountable all those next morning pundits in LAT and WaPo who said the Arianna-Arnold squabble will hurt Arnold--the squabble killed Arianna! [Emphasis added]

You mean the Chris Lehane spin was wrong? How can that be? ... 2:10 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. Lucianne.com--Stirs 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. Overlawyered.com--Daily 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. TomPaine.com--Web-lib 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.]