Debra J. Saunders

People who don't live here think that Californians must be insane to even contemplate electing Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor.

Critics charge that Ah-nold hasn't explained what he'd do to balance the state budget.

News flash: Facing a recall, Gov. Gray Davis doesn't have a plan either -- unless you call spending more than you take in a plan.

Rather than taking charge, Davis ceded the heat to triple the vehicle license fee to his finance director -- as if it weren't the governor's call. Davis signed a phony budget to skate through the 2002 election without making difficult decisions. Ergo the $38 billion shortfall.

The scolds warn that The Terminator is not experienced. They speak as if it doesn't matter that Schwarzenegger arrived in America broke and speaking broken English, and that, by force of will, he became a big-box-office movie star, wildly successful investor and political player. Arnold's experience is living the American dream to the hilt.

Davis has political experience in spades -- yet he dragged his feet on the energy crisis and state budget woes.

"Experience," in California politics, has come to mean spineless. Elites trash California voters for not knowing what they want -- more spending or no new taxes. The sneerers conveniently ignore that "experienced" politicians from both parties won't tell voters that they have to make that choice.

Democrats pushed for more spending, without leveling with voters about the price tag. Republicans opposed higher taxes, without advocating the deep spending cuts needed to balance this year's $100 billion budget, that was $38 billion in the hole.

Witness Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante -- the no-on-recall, but-vote-for-me Democrat. Presto change-o, now that he's running to replace a recalled Davis, Bustamante has come out against the vehicle license fee hike. He says the state can raise the car tax's $4.2 billion by hiking taxes on alcohol, tobacco and the wealthy. His campaign slogan could be: Only other people will pay higher taxes.

"Experienced" politicians such as California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres keep slinging the same sordid guilt-by-association mud, because that's all they know how to do.

Debra J. Saunders

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