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Xrlq - Columnist

Xrlq is proprietor of the blog damnum absque injuria and a sometime attorney. [go to Xrlq index]


At Least He Doesn't Pronounce it "Aztlán"
In the waning moments, the Governor is desperate to prove he really is unfit to serve...
[Xrlq] 09/09/03

Up until now, I've been trying to keep an open mind about the recall, and entertain the arguments about why Gray/Gris/Joe/José Davis should not be recalled. This is so even though, as far as I'm concerned, all debate about the merits of the recall among Republicans ended when the election itself was certified.

There's an old saying: "if you strike at a king, you must kill him." Fortunately, our "king" doesn't have to be killed literally. Even so, having struck at him through an unprecedented recall, we'd best finish the job in political terms, or else face 3 1/2 years of an even angrier, more vindictive version of Gray Davis than we've faced in the past.

Until now, however, the Democrats' "he's not that bad" counter-argument remained a valid one, if not convincing to me. All that changed on Friday, when Joe Davis renamed himself "Gris" and signed SB 60. SB 60 is the bill which, if not subjected to a referendum, will soon allow illegal aliens to obtain driver licenses that falsely imply they are legal residents.

Set aside any counter-arguments for why it might be a good idea to adopt this particular bill or some alternative licensing measure (I have no problem with an alternative licensing system that licenses everyone who passes the test, but conspicuously identifies illegals either as illegals or as persons who have not established lawful residency to the DMV's satisfaction, which SB 60 does not do). All that matters, as to Davis himself, is that he knowingly signed into law a bill that he himself believed to be bad for California, simply because he thought it would be good for his personal career ambition.

Signing a bill you believe to be bad for the state but good for your career is an unconscionable, unpardonable violation of the public trust. Anyone, of any political persuasion, who does such a thing unfit for public office, and should not be allowed to work for any government at any level.

My objections have nothing to do with the merits of SB 60 itself. Those who think it's good for the state should vote to recall Gray Davis and replace him with any of the numerous candidates who feel that way also (e.g., Peter Ueberroth, Cruz Bustamante, Peter Camejo or Arianna Huffington). But no one should be supporting someone who does only what he believes to be expedient for his own ambitions.

At this point, the best thing Davis can do politically is to resign. Unfortunately, doing so now would introduce new uncertainties into the legal system that could lead to Florida-style lawsuits over who should be the governor if the recall vote fails, or who should be the Lt. Gov. if the recall succeeds and Bustamante does not win. For this reason, Davis should resign immediately, effective October 8. And of course he won't do that, so instead it's up to us, the voters, to "resign" him.

And if SB 60 alone did not make Gray Davis unfit for public office, his cheap shot at Schwarzenegger's accent certainly does. Interesting, isn't it, that, accents aside, Schwarzenegger pronounces California exactly the way most Mexican immigrants do: /'ka li 'for nja/? This is also the correct pronunciation in Spanish, the language that actually gave us the name "California."

This leaves only two possible interpretations as to what Davis meant when he claimed people who "can't pronounce the name of the state" should not be governor. Both, in my view, are equally vile:

1. Anyone with an Austrian accent should not be governor.
2. It's OK for illegal immigrants to get licenses to drive to and from menial jobs, but it's not OK for legal, naturalized immigrants to hold any of those "better" jobs we real 'Mercuns might want.

It's possible to share a good-natured, friendly laugh at anyone's accent. But this statement doesn't seem to be humorous or good-natured at all. It's just downright nasty -- if not overtly xenophobic -- and certainly the kind of remark that would have elicited endless yammering from the Los Angeles Times, had a Republican been unkind or unsensitive enough to come up with it.



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