Saturday, September 17, 2005

He'll be back

A two-fer this week: Schwarzenegger launched his last push for the special election on Monday, and then said he'll run for a full term on Friday. Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters suggests how a chief executive with bottom-feeding approval ratings could still prevail:

First, the gay-marriage bill shows that Californians do not get the representation they want at the Legislature, regardless of the merits or demerits of the bill itself. They voted against gay marriage five years ago, only to have their representatives try to pass it again and again and finally succeeding this year. Only the Governator's veto kept it from trumping the will of 60% of California's electorate, which has a significant Democratic majority. Arnold made himself the people's representative, restraining an imperial Legislature that has far too easy of a time maintaining a Democratic deathgrip on state politics. (Note: Schwarzenegger hasn't vetoed the bill, just said he would. -- ED.)

That allows Schwarzenegger to run not only as a counterbalance, but as a reformer with more work to do. He wants to change the way California apportions its districts to disrupt that political deathgrip, a much better idea than the term limits that failed to do the job almost a generation ago. While he may have lost some popularity and luster of celebrity, that combination will be hard for any Democrat to overcome. It will take someone with star quality and a sense of reform to beat him, and the closest thing the Democrats have is Dianne Feinstein -- who has already ruled it out.

Democrats' relentless push for SB 60, which would grant de facto driver's licenses to illegal immigrants is another instance where the Legislature shows it's completely out of touch with the electorate. On its merits, Gil Cedillo's bill might comform completely with the federal Real ID law, which allows states to grant driving privileges to illegals, so long as the documents meet certain uniform standards.

Arnold has countered that the bill may not meet those tests, so why rush to pass something that may have to be scrapped later? It's a legitimate point that scores politically, too: It suggests that legislative Democrats would rather kowtow to a (wait for it!) special interest than arrive at a measured policy to accommodate noncitizens who operate vehicles in California. It also highlights the disconnection between realitiy and legislators in bulletproof seats. An earlier licenses-for-illegals bill helped kick Gray Davis from office; Cedillo faces no competition for his job. (To be sure, this argument also stokes some of the borderline nativist sentiments that reside in certain quarters, but that's another story.)

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