Crow eats Gray Davis

Posted: Aug 25, 2003 12:00 AM

Gov. Gray Davis deserves to be recalled. His performance has earned him record-low poll numbers because voters believe he is too arrogant, too nasty -- and that he would sell them out to any special interest that could help his career. Rather than shape up to fend off the recall, Davis has been acting as if his main goal is to prove to skeptical voters that they've been too kind to him.

Consider Tuesday night's speech -- you know, the one that had Davis taking "responsibility" for his plight. The buzz was that Davis would eat crow. Turns out the crow ate Davis.

Well, Davis did say, "I come here to take responsibility." Then he blamed Republicans and a "right-wing power grab" for the bad things -- blackouts, red ink and recall -- that happened on his watch. Having barely exhaled after uttering the other R-word, Davis refused to admit to any particular fault.

To start, Davis essentially blamed the governor who preceded him and the president who took office after the brownouts started -- the lights started going out in California in August 2000 -- for the energy crisis.

Then there is the governor's claim that the recall is "part of an ongoing national effort to steal elections Republicans cannot win."

Davis knows better. Yes, GOP Rep. Darrell Issa poured some $2 million into the recall effort. Issa came along, however, after the Bush White House and state politicos ran in terror from the very notion of this populist concoction.

And he knows how many Democrats don't like him.

But forget the speech. (I'm sure the guv's political gurus would love to.) The most offensive element of the New Gray Davis is his craven lurch to the left, as seen in his recent pledges to sign bills he wisely ducked during his first 56 months in office.

For some time now, state voters have suspected Davis would sell them out to save his own sorry skin. Now they know it.

Witness Davis' promise to sign a bill allowing illegal immigrants to obtain drivers' licenses -- even though he had vetoed similar bills. That pledge is a slap in the face of the 59 percent of California voters who approved Proposition 187, which would have denied illegal immigrants government benefits. Those voters were begging irresponsible politicians to distinguish between legal and illegal aliens. Now Davis has slammed that door shut.

Ditto his pledge to sign a bill giving legal rights to same-sex partnerships -- some three years after 61 percent of California voters supported a measure defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

My libertarian-leaning side supports gay marriage, but a governor shouldn't impose new laws on voters who recently rejected them. Use persuasion, not blunt force. No Davis observer can watch this act without seeing it as a billboard that announces Davis will stick it to most voters if it helps him woo an interest group he thinks he needs.

I truly don't understand it: Davis needs the support of a portion of the 27 percent of Democrats who say they want to recall him -- yet Tuesday he dismissed them as right-wing nuts. Davis needs more than half of voters to choose to retain him. Yet, in his desperation, The Grayinator publicized his willingness to cross the majority of voters.

If Davis understood the fury underpinning the recall craze, he would have promised voters that he would become a statesman, a leader, a politician ready to buck pet constituents for the greater good. Instead, Davis decided to ditch the statecraft, as if the solution is to become an even craftier politician.

It was easier to defend Davis against a recall when he simply was a bald-faced opportunist. Tuesday Davis said the recall was "bigger than California" -- - which shows he can't distinguish between the state and his oversized ego.