George Will

WASHINGTON -- In the 1950s, when Doris Day, prim and perky and squeaky clean, was starring in romantic comedies, the mordant Oscar Levant said, ``I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.'' Washington knew Arianna Huffington before she was a left-wing populist.

But in politics as in other fields of fashion, standards of chic change, and it is as a Huey Long from the upper crust that millionaire Huffington is seeking to make of herself a gift, as governor, to California's downtrodden. Can it be just eight years ago that she was living here, toiling to establish a salon for like-minded surfers on the rising -- or so she thought -- wave of Newt Gingrich's brand of conservatism? ``Why Newt Must Run," she wrote in the Nov. 27, 1995, Weekly Standard, urging a presidential candidacy.

Multiple epiphanies later, including one that revealed to her Jesus' automotive preferences (not an SUV), she is a Schwarzeneggerean. But, then, who isn't nowadays?

Asked on ``Today'' whether he favored California's paid family leave law, the only such law in the nation, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the supposed reincarnation of Ronald Reagan, said:

``I -- I will have to get into that. I mean, because, as you know, I'm very much for families, I'm very much for children and children's issues and all that stuff. I think that the children should have the first call in our treasury. This is the -- the most precious resource that we have. We have to think about the future of the state. Children are the most important thing, and we have to help the families.''

There. Did all that stuff clarify things?

Schwarzenegger's achievement may be to simultaneously increase the testosterone level and the feminization of American politics. ``Children'' are the trump card in the deck of those whose eight-word political philosophy is, ``I am for limited government, but the children ...''

It seems mean to interrupt Schwarzenegger's hug of California's children, but about paid family leave: Asked on ``Good Morning America'' whether he would favor raising taxes as part of a solution to California's budget crisis, Schwarzenegger said he favored neither raising taxes nor cutting programs, but instead would ``bring businesses back to California.'' Ah, but one reason businesses are fleeing is the multiplication of government-imposed costs, such as paid family leave. Concerning which ...

Never mind.

George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
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