Speaking at the University of California in Los Angeles this week, California Gov. Gray Davis admitted he had made some mistakes and called the recall effort a "right-wing power grab." I guess Bill Clinton really is advising him. Proving Davis' "right-wing power grab" theory, the two men who are currently most likely to replace him are a tax-and-spend liberal who supports abortion and a tax-and-spend liberal who supports abortion.
One is Cruz Bustamante, Davis' lieutenant governor, who has displayed the Democrats' renowned tolerance and commitment to civil rights the Bob Byrd way – by using the n-word at a dinner celebrating Black History month. (You'd think the California Democrats could come up with a standard bearer to replace Davis who manages to avoid using racial slurs at a public gathering to celebrate black achievements.)
The other is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who quickly brought billionaire investor Warren Buffett on board as an adviser. Moments later, Buffett announced his enthusiasm for repealing Proposition 13 and raising taxes. In addition to high taxes, Buffett's other passion is abortion, proving once again that no one understands the little guy like a multi-billionaire.
Conservatives were wary of Schwarzenegger even before Tax 'em and Kill 'em Buffett joined the campaign. Schwarzenegger claims to be a fiscal conservative and a liberal on social issues. Historically, that means: "liberal." All politicians claim to be tax-cutting, fiscal conservatives when they are running for office. Bill Clinton did, promising a "middle-class tax cut." Then he raised taxes. George Herbert Walker Bush did, famously pledging that no matter how many times Congress came to him with a tax hike, he would say, "Read my lips, no new taxes." And then he raised taxes. So it's not a good sign when a politician isn't holding ticker-tape parades before the election showcasing his love of tax cuts.
Still, there are many arguments to be made in Schwarzenegger's favor. First of all, he's not Gray Davis. Thanks to Davis' fiscal wizardry, California is fast becoming a Third World country. Taxpayers are leaving the state in droves, sick of paying for government workers' Riviera retirement plans. In California, the fabulously rich support the poor with government jobs, paid for by the middle class – which is now living in Arizona.
It is puzzling why anyone would want to assume control of this fiasco. It's like vying to become Roseanne Barr's next husband. Sure you'd get your name in the paper, but look at the mess you'd be getting yourself into. And yet there are hundreds of Californians lining up to replace Gray Davis. There are even a few serious candidates like Tom McClintock and Bill Simon who do have plans that actually would save the Golden State.
At this stage, Schwarzenegger's main selling point is that he seems to have excellent name recognition with an electorate that already knowingly elected Gray Davis and Cruz Bustamante. Former child actor Gary Coleman would be a major improvement over Gray Davis. Indeed, among the nut candidates, probably only Arianna Huffington could drive the middle class from California faster than Gray Davis has, with this latter-day Norma Desmond gleefully spray-painting their SUVs on the way out.
Within days of his announcement, the media leapt on Schwarzenegger, demanding that he produce a detailed outline of his plan to save California from sinking into the ocean. Davis has been governor for five years and the watchdog media have yet to ask him what his plan is. In deciding to run, Arnold has already proven himself to be more decisive than Davis. In announcing that he didn't need anyone's money but his own, Arnold has proven himself to be of a different species than Gray Davis.
This leads to another positive about Schwarzenegger, which is that he's not Gray Davis. Literally millions of low-income immigrants are pouring into California without job skills or even language skills. If we were able to trick Mexico into taking California back, Los Angeles would have the second largest population of Mexicans in Mexico – only Mexico City would have more. While illegal immigrants generally work, they don't contribute to the income or property tax base. Their birth rates are far higher than other groups, so they consume a large portion of the state's health-care and welfare systems. As the tax base floods out legally, the taxpayer-dependents flood in illegally.
Davis responded to this crisis by virtually dismantling immigration enforcement in California. Law enforcement officials are prohibited from even asking people about their national origin. Davis fought Propositions 187 and 209 after the voters overwhelmingly approved them. Meanwhile, Arnold is the Republicans' kind of immigrant: legal. But the press is crucifying Arnold for voting "yes" on Proposition 187 back in 1994 – along with 60 percent of his fellow Californians. Apparently, this makes him "out of the mainstream."
In addition, it's important to note that Schwarzenegger is not Gray Davis. We're all reading tea leaves, but it must mean something that Schwarzenegger goes around calling himself a Republican. Jesse Ventura never called himself a Republican. Michael Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat who became a Republican only to run for mayor of New York. Northeastern liberal Republicans like John Lindsay called themselves Republicans because they associated the Democrats with the dirty working class.
Schwarzenegger is part of the Hollywood elite and is married to a Kennedy, and yet he calls himself a Republican. (In his defense, Schwarzenegger has no connection to Justice Anthony Kennedy.) You don't go around calling yourself a Republican in Hollywood to win admiring glances from studio executives. To take a page from the gays' handbook: "Who would choose this lifestyle? Who would choose to be persecuted, censored and ostracized?"
Schwarzenegger was the moving force behind Proposition 49 last year, a taxpayer-funded after-school program for students. Admittedly, that doesn't sound like the mark of a Milton Friedman conservative. But, curiously, Proposition 49 was opposed by all the right people, including the California Federation of Teachers, the League of Women Voters of California and the American Association of University Women. Supporting the proposition were the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Business Roundtable and various taxpayer groups.
It turns out that Schwarzenegger's after-school programs would be paid for out of the state's general fund – unless the fund dried up. The Parasite Lobby opposed the after-school programs on the grounds that it would reduce flexibility in government spending and divert money away from other needed programs – such as even bigger pensions for the parasites. Schwarzenegger's initiative basically required that some taxpayer money be spent on taxpayers. It's not as good as a tax cut, but at least Schwarzenegger is not Gray Davis.