Friday, April 22, 2005

End Of Days

Goobernator Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest blunder is more notable for what is concealed rather than what is revealed.

In case you've been too preoccupied with the communal sniffing of Joe Bob Ratzinger's (or as the guys in the mob call him, Joey Eggs -- get it?) newly-laundered vestments, Herr Gröpenführer recently made some ill-considered, and frankly rather incoherent, remarks about border security.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger publicly apologized Wednesday for his earlier statements that California should "close the borders" with Mexico to control illegal immigration, saying he had misspoken because of a "language problem.''

"The bottom line is, I misspoke, and I'm sorry if I offended anyone," Schwarzenegger said about his comments Tuesday to a newspaper publishers' group in San Francisco. "I meant 'securing' our borders, not 'closing' them.

Sure he did. It's like when a chick thinks you offered to tickle her ass with a feather, but all you really said was "typically nice weather". It's a simple mistake, really. Anyone could have made it.

No, what's notable is that he meant what he meant, which means he's catering to the current right-wing sotto voce mantra, as evoked by the Arizona border-patrolling "Minutemen" militia and the like. (Playing the race card for the likes of Albert "Torture Guy" Gonzales; catering to the snake-handlers by beating up on lettuce-pickers. Who says only Democrats are skilled at identity politics?) Not only did he mean what he said, but the idea is not all that unpopular with Californians, even Hispanics. That's why Prop. 187 passed overwhelmingly ten years ago. It wasn't just Whitey that pushed that one through.

The fact of the matter is, a big reason the state's infrastructure and revenue base is in such a shambles is because there are a lot of people making use of it without paying into it. And forget about the "they pay taxes too" mantra -- they pay sales taxes, like everyone else. Sales taxes do not go to fund things like roads, schools, hospitals, etc.

This does not mean that police-state measures need to be implemented or anything, just that a problem needs to be recognized and resolved in a manner that allows the state to get back up on its feet, have a framework that can handle the entire population, and have everyone paying their fair share. This also means sticking the employers who take advantage of the cheap labor, of course.

There are no quick fixes here. But the bottom line is, what Schwarzenegger said, like it or not, is not all that disagreeable to a majority (or at least a solid plurality) of Californians, especially when phrased in the context of potential terrorism. And yet the way he lamely backpedaled and pinwheeled away from his statement, pathetically trying to bridge some imaginary semantic gap between "closed" and "secured", you'd have thought he'd proposed molesting collies on the State House lawn.

Margita Thompson, the governor's press secretary, said Wednesday that Schwarzenegger's critics "are experts at diverting attention away from California's true problems -- which is where the governor is focused.''

She said Schwarzenegger wasn't the only political leader to publicly admit errors, and "it's one of the reasons why people can relate to him, and they love him, because he's human.''

This is the real story -- the honeymoon is over, and the novelty of having Gonad The Bavarian as governor has worn off, and he knows it. The Republicans have very publicly and embarrassingly overstepped their bounds nationally, and haven't done shit about anything that affects real peoples' everyday lives. The SUV drivers are suddenly realizing that they were had, and the swing voters who tacked right are realizing that they shacked up with the party that lets the crazy aunt out of the attic with alarming regularity. Suddenly John Kerry doesn't seem quite as French as he once did.

Yes, folks, the smell you're smelling is the sweet smell of political disaffection, and that whooshing sound in the background is the flushing of Arnold Schwarzenegger's political career down the proverbial toilet. He has lost twenty points in about twelve weeks, an amazing stumble remarkably concurrent with that of George W. Bush. Every public appearance has either been an awkward verbal gaffe, or a quick dodge from the firefighters and nurses he thought he could attack with impunity.

He has not gotten the message, not until now. Schwarzenegger's quick, painfully clumsy attempt to back away from this most recent one, clumsily phrased as it was to begin with, shows that he knows he fucked up. One of the most ridiculous aspects of this was when Tom Arnold spoke publicly in support for his good buddy. Note to self: don't take the word of a man whose judgment is so poor, he married Roseanne Barr. Don't take his word on anything, especially issues of character judgment. The last good decision Tom Arnold made was quitting his slaughterhouse job in Ottumwa. Since then, not so much.

RINOs like Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani have been useful to the GOP as political cover, to put a putatively moderate face on a party of creepy backward authoritarianism. Arnold especially should be considered a bellwether for the national party's fate. Another opportunity for the Democrats to land a real body blow here -- if they take Arnold down next year, the rumors of the Democrats' death will be proven to be greatly exaggerated.

The Democrats in California's state legislature save their knives for the budget process, and then they make the governor -- Democrat or Republican -- genuflect to each of their constituencies, before skullfucking the whole budget process for an extra month or two, just for shits and giggles. That's just the way it works out here. In short, if Arnold thinks he's in bad shape now, wait till mid-August, when the budget's 45 days late, and he has to verbally fellate Gil Cedillo and Fabian Nuñez just to get something done. They know he's vulnerable now, and they know that he knows it. ¡Ay caramba!

They live for an opportunity like this; Arnold may now consider himself officially held by the short hairs. His very special fall initiative drive is about to go down in flames, the state is still in debt every bit as much as it was in 2003, and despite Arnold's bluster about bureaucratic waste in the campaign, he has stopped running his mouth about that, since he got in and found out that there really isn't a bunch of welfare queens driving Cadillacs to Fort Knox for their weekly gold bar. He's had 18 months, and all he's done is keep the wolves at bay a little longer with last year's bond issue, which is just a debt deferment.

Schwarzenegger really thought he'd just have to show up, and his personal charm would make things happen. Then again, he thought people would go see Last Action Hero and Junior, so there ya go.


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