Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Importance Of Being Arnold

After months of pimping his big ideas for "reform", and running around the country picking up tens of millions of dollars in "donations" from people in other states who just happen to care about California state referenda, California governor/speech therapist Arnold Schwarzenegger is seriously thinking about cancelling the special election.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's political advisers have discussed calling for the cancellation of the special election the governor has set for November.

A day after a state Superior Court judge ordered a Schwarzenegger-backed redistricting initiative off the November ballot, consultants for the first time considered how the election could be called off in a conference call Friday morning.

The discussion illustrates just how far the governor has fallen in the seven months since he first floated the idea of a vote this year. The election has been seen as Schwarzenegger's make-or-break moment in his nascent political career, and a retreat could have profound political implications.

Awwww. They're almost cute when they're that naïve, aren't they? Not so fast there, Chief.

Even if the governor proposed calling the election off, it's unclear whether the Legislature would go along.

In a twist that shows just how much political fortunes seem to have changed, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, who has been critical of the election, indicated Friday he would not be in favor of canceling the vote.

"The toothpaste is out of the tube, and it will be hard to put it back in, '' Núñez said.

One problem is that all of the initiatives that have qualified will appear on a ballot, whether it's this November or the next regularly scheduled election, which is next June.

Núñez said he would "have conditions" for Schwarzenegger before he would agree to cancel the election. He said he would demand that the governor agree to back off of his budget initiative in favor of a compromise and also agree not to campaign for another initiative that has qualified for the ballot. That initiative would hamper labor unions' abilities to raise money for political campaigns.

"Unless we have a guarantee that this stuff won't come back, we might as well get it over with,'' Núñez said.

Well, that tells you everything you need to know -- Schwarzenegger blinked, and blinked big, and the supposedly reviled Democratic Legislature not only is ready to take him on, but prefers it that way. It's an unmistakable signal; they've got him by the short hairs now, and they're not terribly inclined to let go.

Arnold is about to join Jesse Ventura at the "guys who were out of their league" unemployment line, while the Junior 2: Twins (But Not The Danny DeVito Type) script gets developed.

Clearly, Arnold is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't. He looks weak if he pulls what's left of his pet project, and looks even weaker if he lets it go and the initiatives all get trounced. And there's no upside for the Democrats in working with him now; there's no need to negotiate with roadkill.

I'm Fabian Núñez, bitch!

While Murphy acknowledged that "we have gotten off our game'' this year, he said Schwarzenegger is not discouraged by the problems he's encountered.

"He understands the big picture, that this is a big state and it will be tough to change,'' Murphy said.

He suggested that Schwarzenegger is still a great campaigner and still could push his reforms through.

"He's still the governor. He's still Arnold Schwarzenegger. And there's a lot of time left,'' Murphy said.

Yeah. I think that's what Gray Davis was telling himself at one time.


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