Our Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t seem to be able to translate the personal popularity he has long enjoyed in the Golden State into success for the initiatives he has put on the California ballot. This goes for conservative as well as liberal polices. In November 2005, voters rejected, albeit not as decisively as they rejected the more liberal “reforms” yesterday, four propositions he had placed on the state’s ballot for reforms favored by conservatives.
In the wake of the defeat of those conservative reforms, he tapped Susan Kennedy, a “former acolyte of radical activists Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda” as his Chief of Staff. Now, in the wake of the defeat of liberal measures, will he move in the opposite direction, firing Ms. Kennedy and tapping someone with a background in conservative activism as his top aide?
Kennedy had been deputy chief of staff to Gray Davis, the Democratic governor Schwarzenegger ousted in the 2003 recall. Thus, barely two years after his election on a reform agenda, the Republican Governor began to return to the policies voters rejected when they elected him. And yesterday, we rejected policies nearly identical to those which helped spur Davis’s downfall (and Arnold’s rise).
As John Hinderaker puts it, as “governor of California,” Schwarzenegger “lacked the will or the conviction to buck the liberal tide.” He didn’t buck the tide; he tried to ride it. And unlike the surfers who flock to our coasts, he couldn’t keep his balance on that most demanding and fickle of waves.
His fall began in 2005 when he failed to enact conservative reforms which, among others things, would have cut the public employee unions’ power and held the line of state spending. Instead of seeing the defeat as an obstacle to be overcome and thus strenghtening his resolve to push responsible reform, he caved to those who had defeated him. Hardly the mark of a principled man. And the sign of someone lacking the determination of the action heroes he played on the silver screen, often relentless in pursuing their goals.