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Schwarzenegger: On Outsmarting a Democrat
leading everyone to believe he would not run for governor, Schwarzenegger
effectively eradicated the Feinstein threat, the only real competition.
Sorry, Democrats, this Total Recall of Gray Davis is about to be terminated.
(portrait courtesy of Ana
Everyone who has ever tried and failed to outsmart a Democrat should take a page from the Schwarzenegger Playbook, for he is a political mastermind.
For weeks, the news media has been positively ecstatic over a possible run by the Terminator. He was probably going to run, and then he probably wasn’t, and then, much to the chagrin of many a Californian (and to the thrill of Darrell Issa and Gray Davis), he definitely wasn’t.
Enter California’s senior Senator, the popular Dianne Feinstein, who, incidentally, faced—and beat—the threat of recall as mayor of San Francisco. Trusting the press is never the best idea, and surely she realizes that tonight.
Feinstein gave a definite and once-and-for-all “no” to those begging her to put her name on the ballot, secure with the knowledge that Governor Davis wouldn’t have to face Schwarzenegger. He, after all, had decided not to run. Loretta Sanchez or Leon Panetta would enter the race, she probably reasoned.
So much for her security.
Arnold went on the Tonight Show with the entire political world believing that the race had been thrown to the Democrats, and that to Schwarzenegger, the recall movement was nothing more than a publicity campaign for Terminator III. But, like Di Fei, we were fooled; Arnold surprised everyone, and reentered the contest.
In other words, the senior Senator from the most populous state in the Union, and former mayor of one of the most important cities in the Union, was outsmarted by a man who has held not a single political office in his life.
Like everyone else in the world, the Schwarzenegger team knew that if Feinstein’s name was on the ballot, she would win handily. Their only choice, therefore, was to make sure that didn’t happen. And that’s exactly what they did. By announcing that he would not run, Arnold effectively eradicated the Feinstein threat, and, though it probably wasn’t the principal goal of the strategy, lulled Davis into a false sense of political safety.
But then, with potential competitors backing down and the press backing off, he pounced on candidacy like Chappaqua Bill on an intern. With the successful execution of an absolutely dazzling plan, he changed the face of the recall, and, perhaps, California politics. That, of course, is now precisely the question. Will he win?
Schwarzenegger is by no means as conservative as many California Republicans, but in a statewide election, he’s probably as good as we’re going to get, save a miraculous recovery of Ronald Reagan. I, for one, think that Arnold’s probably just what Californians want: A stylish, left-leaning deficit-hawk, who likes tax cuts, and, mystifying as it is to me, believes that a “right to choose,” only applying to pregnant women, of course, exists in the Constitution. I think he could easily win, given one vitally important factor.
Mr. Schwarzenegger cannot prevail without the support of the majority of California Republicans. That’s too bad, but it’s true. So I hope, for the sake of my state and party, that we’ll do so. Is he Rush Limbaugh with an Austrian accent? Hardly. But I think he’ll do well, and I know he’ll be better than the clown we have now.