OK, Schwarzenegger is in, Davis is out and California is a fiscal and political mess. Straightening it out is going to be a big, big, chore. Davis wasn’t up to it. Whether Schwarzenegger is we’ll find out in time.
Schwarzenegger’s great strength as he prepares to enter office is a clear, broad-based desire for change. Mandates are always important and he has one. There are, however, enormous challenges to executing that mandate. It will not be easy to balance the anti-tax fervor of the conservative Republican establishment with an $8 billion budget deficit and the simple fact that government does not run on air.
He is also a Republican – though certainly an unusual Republican – in a state that remains strongly Democratic (two Republican-backed initiatives, including the latest crackpot effort of Ward Connerly, went down almost 2-1) and has in place a Democratic legislature.
The big question for Schwarzenegger is whether he can avoid the fate of the blockbuster movies he stars in: a huge opening week, followed by a fade to black.
There’s a lot out there this morning about what it all means. Here are some good links to start with:
-- The L.A. Times has a solid profile of Schwarzenegger, which descibes him as simultaneously the best- and least-known of the state’s governors. Interestingly, Schwarzenegger describes himself not as an actor or body-builder, but as a salesman: "I'm good at selling. I’ve always done it in my whole life, and I will do it again in this campaign and as governor."
The Times reports that, “He has sold T-shirts, tank tops, weightlifting belts, gym bags, exercise videos, weights, bricklaying services, bodybuilding for women, magazines, bicycles, motorcycles, Hummers, books, seminars, movies, German food, cigars, restaurants, real estate, malls, sports for inner-city children, after-school programs, Milton Friedman, Austria, the English language, the United States — and above all, self-improvement. Politics, Schwarzenegger told The Times in his only campaign interview with the paper, ‘is challenging, it's refreshing, it's a learning experience. It enriches me.’ "
-- Slate blogger Mickey Kaus explains why he voted for Arnold, despite some misgivings.
-- Sacramento Bee columnist and blogger Dan Weintraub details Schwarzenegger’s skillful behind-the-scenes success in lining up virtually all factions of the GOP behind his campaign.
-- Tacitus has a has an interesting post that proposes, perhaps wishfully, that Schwarzenegger’s election represents a slowly spreading move by the GOP back toward the political mainstream.
-- Kevin Drum at Calpundit advises Democrats to keep the big picture in mind and not try something so stupid as a Schwarzenegger recall. The opponent, he says, is Bush, not Arnold.
-- The California secretary of state's web site has regularly updated numbers on the election.
The real Valerie Plame Wilson
The Washington Post has good, though occasionally mushy, piece about Valery Plame Wilson, the CIA operative publicly identified by two “senior administration officials.”
The Post story recycles the now-familiar tale of how her name was divulged after her husband, a diplomat in the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, contradicted the current Bush’s assertions that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium ore from the African country of Niger.
But the interesting stuff is this: Plame was clearly no desk-bound “analyst,” as administration apologists have tried to claim:
“Plame underwent training at ‘The Farm,’ as the [CIA] facility near Williamsburg, Va., is known to its graduates. As part of her courses, the new spy was taken hostage and taught how to reduce messages to microdots. She became expert at firing an AK-47. She learned to blow up cars and drive under fire -- all to see if she could handle the rigors of being an undercover case officer in the CIA's Directorate of Operations, or DO. …
“Plame also learned how to recruit foreign nationals to serve as spies, and how to hunt others and evade those who would hunt her -- some who might look as harmless as she herself does now as a mom with a model's poise and shoulder-length blond hair.
“Her activities during her years overseas remain classified, but she became the creme de la creme of spies: a ‘noc,’ an officer with ‘nonofficial cover.’ Nocs have cover jobs that have nothing to do with the U.S. government. They work in business, in social clubs, as scientists or secretaries (they are prohibited from posing as journalists), and if detected or arrested by a foreign government, they do not have diplomatic protection and rights. They are on their own. Even their fellow operatives don't know who they are, and only the strongest and smartest are picked for these assignments.”
Now maybe the current George Bush can quit his lame and totally disingenuous whining that his is a “large administration” with a lot of “senior administration officials” and that he has no idea where to look for the culprits. The actual number of officials in his administration who could have had knowledge of Plame and her background was, or should have been, very small indeed. They would be at the White House, the Executive Office Building (where Dick Cheney has an office when he's not at his "secure, undisclosed location") and, of course, the CIA. Since the CIA has made it clear that it is outraged by Plame's outing, maybe the Chief could look at the other two locations. Of course, he might find something. Then ...