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Friday, October 06, 2006

The Terminator's Terms

by JL
I am pleased to welcome to Ice Station Tango, making her debut guest post, member of the Unruly Mob at LesEnrages.Org, Jump to the Left. Last week I asked Jump, a denizen of California, to explain to me how it's possible that the Governator could be leading the polls.

So, you really want to know why California, leader of U.S. progressive causes, seems to be ready to cast its vote for the muscle-builder turned actor turned politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Democratic-Governor Terminator Extraordinaire...

Well, it is true that after the trouPncing he received in the November, 2005, special election, where Californians collectively voted "NO!" to a band of ballot initiatives high on his wish list, the Terminator seemed to be nearing termination of his reign as California Governor; his approval ratings had dipped to a low of 37%. But what's an expensive abysmal failure of a special election between friends?

Recent polls put Arnold ahead of his opponent, Phil Angelides (17% lead), and Arnold has raised more than his opponent, though Angelides has more cash on hand. Some say it is the centrist "olive branches" Arnold has offered since his "Special Defeat;" the Angelides camp counters that Arnold's popularity has remained stable despite a long campaign spending spree and the voters have not yet gotten to know Angelides and his appeal. Imagine.

But I have to wonder, given Arnold's failure to disclose his fitness magazine business dealings, which occurred immediately before he took office, and were kept secret as he later vetoed bills designed to protect people from the dangerous health effects, including death, of products like Metabolife, why California voters seem willing to sign up for another term. In the throes of Special Election campaigning, he alienated teachers and union workers by calling them "Special Interests", never mind his recent verbal debacle regarding the mingling of Black and Latino "hot blood." He has continued to support Bush's failed and unjust war. And then, of course, there's the pass he gave to Big Energy on California's Energy Scam.

Confounding the issue may be that Californians are leading a national trend toward independent voters--the "Decline to State" camp, who can be hard to predict, short on memory, fleeting in loyalty, and slow to the voting booth.

So is it that California voters are just too star struck to help themselves, or that Schwarzenegger's opposition is just a little shy on content; so far, anyway, Angelides seems to be running on the "He's friends with Bush" platform. Though President Bush is immensely unpopular in California, voters don't seem to connect Schwarzenegger with Bush, despite the Governor's continued support for Bush's policies.

Perhaps the Democrats should consider taking a page out of the Keith Olbermann book of "Special Comments"... just to see what it feels like.

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