Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ah-nuld's Back?

Jill Stewart has a column in today's WSJ, also found on OpinionJournal, and I found it surprising, but in a good way.

I have long been a fan of the Governator, because I think that the governorship of California would be a very difficult position to take. I don't agree with everything he does and says, but I think he has a lot of political savvy in a state where it is hard to lead as a conservative. Some highlights from Stewart's piece:

Mr. Schwarzenegger's phoenix-like rise is now quantifiable. His approval rating tanked at 31% last November. Now it has steadily increased to 44%. Soon, he may pull off that rarest of all California political feats--signing a budget by the constitutional deadline.
The reason for the change is simple: It finally dawned on the likable but cocky governor--who used likeability and cockiness to become the world's top box-office draw--that voters don't want the same things that sell with moviegoers...

Sure, Mr. Schwarzenegger is taking hits for making an "unannounced switch" to the Democratic Party. But more accurately, it's a move back to the center after a disastrous foray into partisanship. His move puts him in competition with Mr. Angelides--the ultra-liberal who Democratic primary voters chose on Tuesday to face Mr. Schwarzenegger in November.
And Mr. Schwarzenegger still hews to his Republican roots. His budget allows only $2.5 billion in deficit spending, down from $16.56 billion when he took over from wildly overspending Gray Davis. He's been helped tremendously by the fact that California's treasury is groaning with a $5 billion tax windfall, thanks to Californians who made money off stock profits, dizzying home sales prices and a booming California economy. The media is abuzz over the windfall, and rating agencies including Standard & Poor's are pleased that the governor is spending it mostly on one-time improvements and a rainy day reserve, not on programs that grow long after the treasury goes bare.
This is not to say the governor's revived centrism isn't strained, as with his absurd dithering over sending National Guard troops to the Mexican border. Voters, including many long-settled Latinos, support the measure, even if it is condemned by California's ridiculously strident Latino elected leaders. Mr. Schwarzenegger should ignore California's ethnic nationalist politicians--buffoons who still hysterically condemn the state's staggeringly successful switch to English immersion in schools.

It's a good piece and worth the read. Like I said before, governing a state like California is a tough job, particularly considering all of its problems. For more on governors (and my fave, Jeb) check out this previous post from the SPOTD blog.


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