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Thursday, August 07, 2003

Mushy Dems

With a 38 billion dollar deficit, a collapsing health care system and the destruction of the dot-com industry, the time is now for an Austrian weight lifter to lead us. Perhaps we are getting what we deserve.

Frankly, I don't think he'll actually win unless he brings in a large number of new voters who vote for him because they are fans of his movies --- the Jesse Ventura phenomenon. The base will likely stick with Simon -- who, in this crowded field could win if more than 50% of voters support the recall.

I was quite glad that Arnold decided to run yesterday because it meant that Dick Riordan probably wouldn't. Riordan is Davis' worst nightmare (and Karl Rove's wet dream) which is why Davis ran a (gasp!) negative campaign against him during the Republican primary.

Let's clear something up about that campaign right now, shall we? Davis ran negative ads against Riordan pointing out his changed position on abortion rights. He certainly was trying to influence the primary, but not the way people think. He was focusing the Republican base on Riordan's new pro-choice position, not for the purpose of smearing Riordan but because he knew the California Republicans are a bunch of neanderthals. If he hadn't done it, Simon would have.

California politicians are saying that this was a "puke" campaign and have been self righteously shaking their fingers in his face and warning him not to try that again.

Oh my goodness. How perfectly awful that Davis would do such a horrible, horrible thing. Let's recall him. It was just beyond the pale of proper political behavior.

But, maybe somebody ought to tell the Republicans about the rules of engagement, because they don't seem to have gotten the word:

Republicans like winner Mitt Romney:

Although the Democratic primary isn’t until September 17, the Massachusetts Republican party is already on the air with a $200,000 radio ad campaign slamming Shannon O’Brien. The state GOP clearly views O’Brien as the Democratic frontrunner and hopes to tarnish her with negative campaigning in support of their candidate, Mitt Romney, who is running unopposed in his primary. “Clearly, Mitt Romney sees that my campaign is gaining momentum,” O'Brien said. “And he's trying to influence the Democratic primary in an effort to knock me out, and I'm here to say it's not going to work.” According to political observers, Republicans also hope that because the ads came through the state party and not Romney’s campaign, Romney won’t be fingered as the bad guy (The Boston Globe, 8/17)

Or winner Jeb Bush:

The surprising ascendance of Bill McBride was partly ignited by those with the most to dread from his candidacy, the wizards running Jeb Bush's re-election machine.

Nearly three weeks ago, they uncorked a television attack ad that singled out the Tampa lawyer, who was then trailing well behind Janet Reno in the race to become the Democrats' gubernatorial nominee.

You couldn't miss the anti-McBride commercial, which featured the dancing legs of a briefcase-toting man in a business suit. The Bush people were so proud of this concept that they aired it about every nine minutes, or so it seemed.

Seriously folks, the only thing unusual about Gray Davis' "interference" into the primary campaign of his opponent was that the Republican voters were happy to take the bait. It worked because the Republican base in California were more than willing to reject Riordan for his pro-choice views in the first place.

(And, what do you think Ed Gillespie and all the rest of the "helpful" Republicans doling out advice to the Democrats are doing by stoking the division between the DLC and the grassroots? Somehow, I don't think they are really trying to help us.)

At this moment it looks like Riordan won't run in the recall. But, who knows?

I watched him for 8 years, and while he is a congenial fellow and appears to be quite centrist, he is actually a corporate Republican who is willing to get into bed with the likes of Karl Rove to bring some GOP institutional power to California in anticipation of the '04 election. He may be liberal in Republican terms, but he's far from being a true liberal. In point of fact, he was remarkably ineffectual at anything but promoting a sort of genteel cronyism. Lucky for him, his term was up before everything went to hell in a handbasket here in LA.

Now Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamonte is in the race and the entire thing has taken a depressing turn.

I am very disheartened by the spectacle of Democratic politicians running around like a bunch of screaming teenage girls, spouting incoherant crap about being against the recall on principle, but wanting to have an "insurance policy" or a "fallback," all the while stepping on each other in their excitement to get on the "Gray Davis is a ruthless loser" bandwagon.

It's just more of that hair-splitting, "I'm for the war, with reservations," chickenshit politics that translated into a loss in 2002.

Perhaps Davis should ask to borrow the hair shirt Lieberman and pals forced Clinton to wear to such great effect. We could throw around the words "reprehensible" and "deplorable" and dolefully express our great disappointment in his leadership. That's always such a helpful "defense."

We look like a bunch of complete losers. We have no party loyalty, no winning strategy, no overriding principles, no guts and no patience. We don't want our politicians to play the same game of hardball that our opponents play but whine and wring our hands when they win using those tactics.

These forays into banana republicanism are one area where I think we should draw the line and come together as a party to reject them outright as a matter of principle. And, I say this as a political pragmatist. By tying ourselves in knots to find ways to "win" under the terms the Republicans have set, we look desperate and voters can smell our weakness.

(And, in this case, there is little doubt in my mind that allowing the Republicans to "win" with Arnold or anyone else, may be just what they deserve.)

This recall is an assault on the democratic process, just like the bogus impeachment. It represents a willingness to use any loophole and stretch the meaning of any law to attain the result of either permanently crippling their target, forcing him to resign under pressure or ousting him from office in humiliation. When the likes of Joe Lieberman take to the floor of the senate and condemn the President for being "immoral" and the California Democrats spout platitudes about "insurance policies" they are aiding and abetting the Republicans.

Capitulating in any way is to give credence to a fundamentally illegitimate process, one which changes --- perhaps forever --- the expectation that, barring illegal activity, voters can expect that the winning candidate will fulfill his term of office.

We are pounding the nails in our own coffin.