Thursday, March 03, 2005

Blowing Hard, Going Soft

A duo of articles from each side of the country today on Schwarzenegger's latest reform efforts . . . .

First, the New York Times highlights Schwarzenegger's admiration for the original ballot badass Hiram Johnson, the state's 23d governor who swept into office along with the three political wundertools of initiative, referendum, and recall. Johnson and the populist reforms sucessfully booted O.G. special interest railroads from Sacramento. Clearly, Schwarzenegger would like to be remembered as the same kind of heroic reformer.

To that end, he's decided time's up for the Legislature. Yesterday, he hopped into a Humvee and raced to the nearest Applebee's to start gathering signatures for his four horsemen of the fall ballot: redistricting, pension, teacher pay, and, uh, hell something else. Anyone know? Raise your hand if you're just f-ing tired of voting already. Jeezus, another election???

No word on whether it was his personal Humvee, or whether, if it was, its internal combustion engine had been replaced with a hybrid one, per campaign promise.

He should have considered ditching the Humvee in favor of a more efficient, longer range Prius, since, as the Los Angeles Times reports, his proposals are already running out of gas.

The administration is reportedly backing away from demands that state employee pensions be replaced with private retirement accounts - this in the face of increasingly loud objections from both anticipated foes and usual allies.

The administration's response is that they have never been opposed to negotiating with legislators - much in the same vein as last year's workers' compensation reform efforts.

One wonders, however, how long the "I'm gonna kick your girlieman asses in the ballot booth" threats will work if the Dems and other opponents sense that Schwarzenegger may lack the necessary follow-through.

Such posturing also bolsters arguments that this latest initative push is intended less to achieve actual reform and more to keep Schwarzenegger on convincing election-fatigued voters to sign those petitions and ensuring he's in our living rooms so often all possible 2006 opponents are dead in the gate.

We're starting not to buy it anymore (okay, we never did) - but more importantly, Democrats are starting to get their pushback on again, a welcome change from the corner-cowering of the past 18 months.

Between the Field Polls' actual numbers and the increasingly negative spin given them by media commentators, it seems the honeymoon may really be over.

And not a moment too soon.

Representative democracy may yet survive.

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