Sunday, February 05, 2006

What Is She Doing?

Again, I could understand Susan Kennedy working in the Horseshoe in an Ainsley Hayes, your state needs you, noble sort of way.

But her increasingly active, and well-compensated, role on the campaign? What the f*ck?

As she goes around the state -- from boardroom to business group, talking up Schwarzenegger's $222 billion Strategic Growth Plan -- the former top aide to Democratic Gov. Gray Davis is unapologetic about her chief priority these days: "To get Arnold Schwarzenegger re-elected.''

"And I truly believe that it needs to be a landslide,'' Kennedy said confidently during a recent interview in San Francisco, where she was addressing business groups. "Because marginal wins create paralysis.''
But Ms. Kennedy, you do realize what else create paralysis, right? Or worse, overcomes paralysis and ends in statewide policy fatalities?

Backing an unqualified, misdirected, failure of a governor.

People are increasingly angry about the ethics angle as well - taking $131k from the state and at least $25 so far in campaign consulting fees. There is an ethical component to the story, but for me, it's more about the way in which she's earning it than from whence it comes.

The new jobs, she said, come after years as a public servant and policy wonk -- and she is matter-of-fact about why now.

"I'm 45 years old; I got a mortgage to pay,'' Kennedy said. "And staying in state government was not in my plan. If I'm working 80 hours a week, why shouldn't I be compensated for giving strategic advice to the campaign -- just like the boys?

Oh don't you dare turn this into a woman thing. You sat there at our Emerge meetings holding the torch for women leaders for a Democratic future. And now you're working for public enemy number one? But the compensation angle of it is fine because you've made gains for women consultants everywhere?

Proving they can make equally boneheaded strategic moves? Oh, I'm so proud.

And of the ironic connections between her new boss and her old boss?

Kennedy dismisses the argument that even her former boss Davis -- the subject of a recall election in part for his aggressive campaign fundraising -- had a firewall that prohibited gubernatorial staffers from doing such campaign work.

"What did that buy Gray Davis?'' she asked. "It gave him the worst reputation as a pay-to-play governor in the history of modern politics.''
OH MY GOD, woman, lok around you. So it's just the reputation that's a problem, not the reality? Is this the kind of spin a projected $75k buys the Guv? Because the way I see it, Schwarzenegger has made Davis's fundraising look like a corner girl scout cookie racket. But she continues:

The former Democratic governor "had such a thick wall between the campaign people and the government people,'' she said, "that the government people did not know -- when they were presenting a bill to the governor -- that there was a fundraiser (on that issue) the next night."
Oh well, then, let's not educate the public about why, perhaps, Davis had the better system. Let's just tear down those walls and be very frank about the multi-million dollar dinners to fund ill-conceived special elections damaging to our fundamental system of government. Yup, no problem there.

I certainly don't agree with calls for law banning anyone paid with taxpayer money from campaign work on the side. For most people lower than Kennedy, it's a necessary way to supplement meager salaries. And, frankly, a certain level of shared experience between the two sides of public service is necessary.

But on a substantive level, Kennedy doing this work? Please. She's a lifelong Democrat who has chosen to play for the wrong team. A team with a proven record of failure. How can it be worth it? For any of us?


Anonymous said...

Just a quick thought off the top of my head.

What about a law prohiiting staff from working on the campaign of the person they staff?

Example: Susan Kennedy could do campaign work for Bruce McPherson, but not Arnold.

There's probably a lot of other problems with this, but I haven't thought this through at all.

Carl Kolchak said...

There's no law that says staffers can't work on campaign for the boss. They just can't do it on the State's nickel.

It's just that notion we had oh so long ago, during the Davis Days. In that Democratic era, when Lynn and Susan demanded that Governor's staff never show up at campaign, or work for campaign while they were government employees.

How amazing the transformation! I expect we'll see Special K donning black robes, facemask and voice changer, very soon.

Welcome to the new era, Kaliforniens. Submit! Supplicate!

Think about it. At the rate she's going, all the GOPers will be cleared out of the horseshoe in six weeks, replaced with a clone army of "business friendly" "nonpartisan" types, whatever they look like.

The GOPers' blood will be boiling in time for their convention on the 24th.

Anonymous said...

to jbl: Because then there will be even more shell-game staffing than there already is.

I think full and frank disclosure is fine.

I don't really care that she's getting money from two sources. As a Democrat, I care from which two particular sources she's getting paid.

to carl: yup. funny how things change, eh?

Anonymous said...

First off, it's Ainsely Hayes, not AInsley Harriet (CD, the Bar is clearly not allowing you to think clearly!!)

Secondly, I'm still holding out a secret strand of hope that Kennedy's whole plan is to roil the GOPers so much that they refuse to give the Governator the Republican endorsement for his re-election. Bring onthe McClintock's, I say. That's my secret wish.

Anonymous said...

good grief - yeah. guess i have britian and not the bar on the brain.