Doug Gamble- Contributor
Gamble is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and
in Carmel. [go to Gamble index]
Gov Who Loves To Be Loved
Arnold Schwarzenegger's celebrity act has already worn thin
in Sacramento ...
Speaking as someone who gets nervous when it appears the laws
of the universe are being repealed, there was something almost
comforting in the discovery that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is
a mere mortal after all.
I felt somewhat the same when the Silicon Valley bubble finally
burst. Just when it appeared everything we knew about the marketplace
had become obsolete, with instant millionaires being created
after starting Web-based businesses with no product to sell or
reasonable rationale for their worth, the business world's version
of the law of gravity returned with a vengeance.
Schwarzenegger, who had been politically walking on water since
his victory in last October's gubernatorial recall election,
had to wring out his loafers from the soaker he suffered when
the recently ended bitter budget impasse sent him into the drink.
And in the first poll taken since the governor failed in his
pledge to deliver a new budget on time, his approval rating dropped
from 64 per cent to 57 per cent.
Now that recalcitrant Democrats finally got under
Schwarzenegger's skin, things are going to be even more interesting,
if not competitive,
in Sacramento between now and 2006. By lashing out at them for
refusing to behave like members of a fan club, he looked more
like Gray ("Enact my vision") Davis than the above-the-fray
savior who promised a new tone in California politics.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I voted for Tom McClintock
for governor last fall, and if I had to do it over again I'd
vote the same way. I still believe he'd be a better governor
in the long run because a politician who cares most about principles
is usually more effective than one who cares most about popularity.
On the budget, McClintock would have stayed in Sacramento and
bare-knuckled it out with his opponents rather than soaking up
adulation at shopping malls.
Actually, for all practical purposes, this governor is not so
much a Republican or a Democrat as a one-person member of the
Schwarzenegger Party. The compromises he has made over the months
despite talking tough, pleasing Democrats a bit here and Republicans
a bit there, seem more in tune with seeking approval than seeking
real solutions to entrenched problems.
I can't recall anyone else in modern politics who so obviously
loves being loved, with the possible exception of Bill Clinton.
The look on Schwarzenegger's face when he is plunging into a
crowd, surrounded by awestruck admirers, is almost orgasmic.
Love may be eternal in the movie world, but the governor should
have known it couldn't last forever in the political arena, no
matter how many people he tries to please.
It's possible Schwarzenegger's celebrity may
be wearing thin at the Capitol. It's still red-hot out around
the state where
supporters who show up at his rallies are mainly there to see
a movie star and not because they care about Sacramento politics,
but even a star loses some of his luster when you see him over
and over again as legislators do. Perhaps "Oh wow, there's
Arnold," is changing to "Ho, hum, Arnold again" these
days in Capitol corridors.
It will be fascinating to watch how the governor reacts now
that Democrats have stood up to him for the first time. He could
campaign against those who didn't go along or push a ballot measure
to create a part-time Legislature, two actions he has threatened.
Or he could, as state Attorney General Bill Lockyer has predicted,
decide not to run for re-election in 2006 and go back to the
But if Democrats and other Schwarzenegger-watchers think there's
blood in the water, there's one thing they should keep in mind:
If he decides to stay and fight, this political warrior is not
to be underestimated. CRO
California-based Doug Gamble contributed speech material to
Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and writes a twice-monthly
column for the Orange County Register and CaliforniaRepublic.org.
2004 Doug Gamble