Last weekend, the Emmy Awards featured a skit in which comedian Darrell Hammond impersonated Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bit was funny at first, but it quickly lost punch -- just like the recall election itself. Recent polls show fewer and fewer California voters supporting the recall effort, suggesting that even the most ardent Republicans should hope this debacle soon melts away, regardless of who ends up governor.
Why the gloomy outlook? Because too many candidates, too many tentative election dates, and too many jokes from the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman have too many Californians starting to think twice about the whole thing. At first, they saw the recall as an opportunity to make a refreshing change in how their state is run. Increasingly, they now see that big chance deteriorating into a circus, with too many clowns aspiring to be ringmaster.
That's they way John Morrow feels. He's the 20-something head of human resources at an Oakland, Calif., technology firm. Early on, Morrow had hopes that recalling Gov. Gray Davis "might be a good idea." He was open to considering the various candidates, including Schwarzenegger. But the Terminator's vague answers to basic questions about his leadership plans, along with the endless parade of goofy candidates, has Morrow reconsidering. "Basically, it seems like the (budget) problem is irrevocable. . . . It seems silly to make a change if nothing can be done to fix the problem," he said.
That's why Republicans across the nation should rethink their own high hopes for the California recall. Sure, Gray Davis and the state legislature have let spending spin out of control. Businesses are moving out of the Golden State because of burdensome taxes and over-regulation imposed from Sacramento. In short, California is a mess. But if Davis and his lawmaking lieutenants created this disaster, why on earth should any Republican -- especially one who won't even show up to political forums to discuss the issues -- seek to inherit the mess with less than a full term to reverse the damage? That's like having a contest to see who should captain the Titanic a half hour after it strikes the iceberg.