Meyer on Arnold Fail; Obama Circles the Drain
The good news for Governor Schwarzmuscle this week is that he got off the best one-liner at the Sacramento Press Club’s Gridiron Gala: “I stand here before you as probably the second-most famous immigrant in California,” he told the audience of journos and political hacks. “The first is Meg Whitman’s maid.”
The bad news: The joke was pretty much the highlight of Arnold’s last four years.
Tom Meyer today details the final scene of mass destruction of the Terminator’s all-time worst movie – “Conan the Incompetent” – even as Schwarzenegger keeps huffing and puffing a whirlwind of words on his own behalf, trying to gin up his alleged “legacy” in a desperate effort to declare victory as he leaves town with the Capitol in ruins.
The plain facts, however, are these: a) Schwarzenegger has utterly failed in leading California to a solution for its fiscal problems, the central promise of his election in the historic 2003 recall, and is leaving things far worse than when he arrived; b) his job performance rating remains in the toilet, on a level with the recalled Gray Davis, as voters aren’t buying the phony shtick about what a swell job he’s done; c) he long ago lost any significant political influence in Sacramento, where both parties treat him as a joke.
In fairness, an attitude that occasionally descends upon us, the weight-lifting governor, whose biggest muscle always has seemed the genioglossus , has a few accomplishments: his play on public employee pension reform, while too little too late, is a good first step, his successful push for initiatives taking reapportionment out of the hands of the Legislature is laudable, and may pay good government dividends down the road, and AB32’s climate change regulations are a signal achievement.
That said, his shameless pandering in rolling back the vehicle license fee blew a huge hole in the budget as soon as he took office, from which the state never recovered, his promise to “cut the state’s credit card” was a cruel joke, as interest on borrowing became the fastest-growing item in the budget, and his bone-headed play to put a reasonable spending cap initiative on the 2005 ballot along with three unrelated, largely partisan measures doomed his governorship just two years after it began.
When Schwarzenegger came into office, he made a solemn promise not to accept a salary as governor. In the end, he proved to be worth every penny.
Incredible shrinking Obama: As a symbol of political weakness, it’s too soon to say whether Barack Obama getting bashed in the lip while playing hoops will become the functional equivalent of Jimmy Carter getting chased by a Killer Rabbit. What is clear that the president now looks so hapless and enfeebled that he’s on the verge of becoming a national joke.
With national Democrats in disarray and on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Obama seems completely unmoored, as the White House drifts politically amid a sea of ineptitude and bobs disconnected from the economic policy concerns of recession wracked Americans.
And all the while he just won’t stop droning in that annoying voice of clipped condescension and arrogance that he seems to think makes him sound authoritative. Calbuzz can just picture the out-of-work carpenter, sitting grimly over a draft in a Mission Street saloon, suddenly looking up and shouting, “Will you shut the fuck up!” to the image of a yammering Obama that flickers on the TV over the bar.
Even some of his most loyal defenders are looking for the exits:
But this week I have no blessed clue what the hell he’s up to. I’ve tried to look at this from every angle and each one leads me back to weak, weak, weak.
He’s following rules that no longer exist, pandering to voter attitudes that will have zero consequence in terms of both his approval numbers and his reelection chances. He’s completely off the rails — well beyond any notion of post-partisanship. In fact, if his intention has been to “change the way Washington does business,” he’s currently and epically failing because I simply can’t believe that the new and improved way is this way.
Within roughly 24 hours, President Obama preemptively capitulated to the Republicans and proposed an unabridged GOP idea — freezing federal worker salaries, then, almost as if on cue, the Senate Republicans put their unflinching childish obstructionism in writing and pledged to block everything unless the president extends the deficit-ballooning Bush tax rates. And in that mix, the Republicans blocked extensions of unemployment benefits. Twice.
The upshot? The president looks extraordinarily weak. Weaker than at any other time in his presidency. It probably didn’t help that he was literally beaten and bloodied when he announced the pay freeze, due to his weekend basketball fracas.
Of course the intention isn’t to appear weak. The intention is to appear magnanimous. The intention is to secure support from voters who buy into the ridiculous “both sides are the same” meme and who tell pollsters that they want more bipartisan cooperation, while incongruously voting for total gridlock and the potential of a government shutdown…
Unfortunately, however, bipartisan cooperation in this era has been entirely redefined to the point of virtual extinction. There’s no such thing as mutual cooperation between both parties. Modern bipartisanship is all about one party, the Democrats, flailing around and desperately struggling to appease the Republicans who return the favor by smacking the textbooks out of the president’s hands then kicking him in the ass while he picks up his crap off the floor — embarrassed and chuckling while muttering, “Oh, you guys.”
That character doesn’t look cooperative at all. He looks like a very smart and very serious… wimp.
Memo to Obama: Watch out for the wascally wabbit.
Sarah Palin takedown of the week: Don’t miss Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s superb essay drop kicking Half-Governor Whack Job’s no-nothing, breathtakingly presumptuous criticism of JFK’s famous speech on religion and politics.
Regarding the last paragraph, I highly recommend this:
Love the line about the governor being worth every penny the state paid him. So true!
And Bob Cesca summed up what everybody seems to be feeling when he talks about Obama’s “preemptive capitulation.” As well as I’ve heard it put. Though it would have been kind of Calbuzz to actually credit his lengthy quote from HuffPo.
Getting my oil changed today, one of the guys in the shop noticed my Obama stickers. They’re hardly rare where I live. But he asked what I thought of the president’s performance. My reply was pretty much in line with what Cesca said, and with the Eugene Robinson piece you also linked to. I wondered why Nancy Pelosi seemed to be the only Democrat in DC with any balls. No wonder the Republicans hate her.
The oil-change guy agreed. Just about everybody seems to. But he went further and mused about running himself. I encouraged him. At this point, I think his chances are pretty good.
And while Ms. Townsend is absolutely correct about what America should be and used to be, she seems to have missed the fact that it no longer is. In 2004 when Howard Dean declined to talk about his faith, he was roundly criticized. Bart Stupak introduced legislation clearly based on his beliefs in 2009 and nobody thought it odd. Suspicions that the president is a Muslim are routinely bandies about in the media. The HHS secretary invited Catholic Bishops to opine on government healthcare funding decisions for women’s contraception. And candidates for office now speak of their religious beliefs routinely and proudly.
I certainly disagree with Ms. Palin that “morality itself cannot be sustained without the support of religious beliefs.” I consider myself a moral person and ascribe to no religious belief. My morality may be different than Ms. Palin’s. And she may believe that makes it less valuable. I do not. And here I agree with Ms. Townsend. Mine should not be judged by Ms. Palin’s beliefs as long as it violates no laws. Ms. Townsend is also correct to point out the dangers of one group of people presuming to judge the value of another’s beliefs. It was one of the main things the framers of our constitution hoped to escape and avoid. And we saw how well it worked in the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials. But it is exactly what Ms. Palin and her supporters hope to enact. They DO want to impose their own religious beliefs on the rest of us. To make it the basis of our laws, and of our education–much as the Texas Board of Education is doing. This IS their goal. It is not that they don’t understand that this violates The Constitution. Like Christine O’Donnell, they actually don’t believe that’s true. They disagree with centuries of legal interpretation and cultural practice. And they are actively working to impose their interpretation on the rest of us. If we don’t wake up and realize this, and do something about it, we will soon find ourselves living in a theocratic state no less repressive than Iran. For all their paranoia about Sharia law, they want exactly the same model–just based on a different book. Very scary.
Do you actually believe that Sarah Palin wants to impose the Spanish Inquisition and change our form of goverment from a republic to a theocracy? Serioulsy?
I am also dumbfounded by your ability to engage in exactly the same kind of judgmental behavior you are so critical of in others. Fellow citizens should be able to disagree without hyperventilation or hyperbole.
Sidenote: does no one else think that powerful feminists politicians being described as having male genitalia hilarious?
Yes, I actually do. Seriously.
I agree that fellow citizens should be able to disagree. That’s exactly why I’m so concerned that my right to do that may be eroded by those who believe their belief system is the only right way. I’m more than willing to let them have their faith. I’m far less certain they would extend the same courtesy to me. And I see no hyperventilation in expressing that concern. I would be happy to cite examples of the threats I see if you’d like. I already did point out the Texas Board of Education. Attempts to limit my medical choices on abortion and contracption are another.
And I grant your point about the male metaphor. But, as an essentially sexist society, that is a common term for courage and strength. And I used it with full intent to point out the baseless stereotypes that say women are not as strong as men, yet a woman is showing more political courage than the men.
sqrjn, my views differ from chrisfinnie, but only in degree. I don’t think the christian right wants theocratic law equivalent to Sharia but they do want their religious laws enshrined in the law of our land. It’s easy to name the culture wars issues: Ten Commandments in schools. Prayer in schools, at the beginning of all governmental meetings at all levels and at athletic events. No abortion – and by that I don’t mean cases of rape and incest get a pass – I mean ALL abortion. Opposition to Islam painted over as opposition to terrorism. American “exceptionalism” backed by an aggressive, militaristic foreign policy that features above all unbridled support for Israel.
And you know that list is no exaggeration because major Republican candidates either ran on or won on platforms that include all of the above. But if such rules become the norm, then the logical extensions are not far behind. No, no rightie will ever run on the imposition of Christian Sharia but extend only a little bit that which is squarely in the Republican policy goals today and you end up with much the same thing tomorrow.