It was interesting how, after all the media buzz about the California recall being “too close to call,” when we tuned in to the news shows tonight it was tacitly agreed by everyone–Barbara Boxer, Jesse Jackson, whoever–that the recall would prevail easily and Arnold Schwarzenegger would be the new governor. I should be used to it by now, but it always surprises me when mainstream journalists are happy to be wrong, if by being wrong they can advance the Democratic cause by even a millimeter. Tonight, of course, millimeters weren’t enough.
The Democrats are already talking about legal challenges–minorities were “disfranchised,” amazingly enough–new recalls, etc. Will they be dumb enough to carry out that kind of campaign? I doubt it. Much more likely, they will bide their time and rely on the intractability of California’s budget problems to sink Arnold.
For now, let’s just enjoy the moment. And also, tip our hats to Arnold, who ran a masterful campaign. He took almost everyone by surprise when he announced his candidacy. He grabbed hold of the news cycle and never let go. His decision to participate in only one debate turned out to be sound, and his performance on that occasion was excellent. He stayed on message like a seasoned pro. Can anyone say “underrated”?
And, by the way, I disagree with the idea that Arnold is “hardly a Republican at all.” His life is a quintessential Republican life; he has long expressed admiration for Milton Friedman and other undoubted conservatives; on social issues he is a moderate, but a moderate is not a liberal; he is open to taking on the illegal immigration lobby. Could these convictions be overridden by perceived political necessity? Sure. But the voters aren’t crazy to think that Arnold, who really doesn’t need politics, the L.A. Times or anything else, is more likely to hang on to his principles than most.


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