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Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist

Carol Platt Liebau is a senior member of the editorial board. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.


Debate: Arnold Survives
He had to be able to walk away...
[Carol Platt Liebau] 9/25/03   

Oh what a relief it is . . . for all the Arnold supporters. His performance was, frankly, somewhat undistinguished -- but he survived, and that's pretty much all he had to do. This debate will change nothing in the race -- for better or worse.

Arnold did have one "missed opportunity" (to use a phrase lifted from current Dem talking points about President Bush): Arianna Huffington accused Arnold of being "anti-woman" and the moderator, characterizing the comment as a personal attack, invited Arnold to respond. He chose to joke with her -- telling her he'd cast her in "Terminator 4."

But he might have had a chance to hit a home run with female voters if he had seized the opportunity to launch into an Oprah-esque riff about how he cares about the moms across California, who are carrying soccer teams and groceries in the SUV's that Arianna wants to eliminate . . . how he and his "wonderful wife" live that kind of life (except that they've been more blessed by California than most), and therefore he wants to help all the other moms and dads be free to live it, unburdened by the oppressive hand of a state government dominated by special interests. Arnold's team may have reasoned that it was better to downplay the accusation (which they must surely have seen coming), but I wonder if there were any women in the debate-prep room to offer a different opinion. After all, from a female's perspective, the charge that one "mistreats women" is a serious accusation, and it would be a shame if Arnold's flippant response mistakenly suggested to some women that he doesn't find the subject worthy of a more serious response.

Tom McClintock, as usual, was prepared and detailed in his answers, with which any conservative must agree, but his dour demeanor demonstrated once again why he can never muster Arnold's mass appeal . . . Cruz Bustamante just seemed passively arrogant (and how many votes did he win with his lectures on the virtues of illegal immigration?) . . . As for Arianna, she was, as usual, busy trying to promote herself -- this time through launching shrilly aggressive attacks on Arnold (which shows that she is committed to trying to help Cruz win -- had it been all about the ideas, she would have gone after McClintock) . . . Peter Camejo was a non-factor, except as an illustration of the weirdness of the type that populates college campuses.

As a Republican, I'm glad Huffington and Camejo are in the race, as they'll take votes from Cruz, but their presence at the debate had the unfortunate effect of making Cruz's position seem more mainstream than they really are.

CRO columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA.


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