Moderates are not the only ones backing Arnold Schwarzenegger in California’s gubernatorial recall election. Particularly among politicians, many true conservatives, such as Representatives Chris Cox and Dana Rohrabacher, are taking up the Terminator’s standard, as are conservative icons such as Ann Coulter.
In better times, the famous actor’s social liberalism might have alone precluded such support. But California’s GOP is at an historic nadir. It has drifted downward ever since 1995, when a Jeffords-style defection and clever Democratic legal maneuvering disastrously cost Republicans their hard-won State Assembly majority.
Conservatives have never recovered. Their party is now out of power and out of favor with voters, and they think the Arnold gimmick can save them.
But these “Arnold Conservatives”–not his moderate or liberal supporters, but those reluctantly backing him as the “electable” Republican candidate–are wrong. They underestimate the extent of Schwarzenegger’s liberalism, which guarantees his leadership will fail California and further harm Republicans if he wins.
Schwarzenegger admits he is a social liberal, but his counter-claim of economic conservatism has no basis in fact. An example: if Arnold is a “pro-business” follower of Milton Friedman, as his supporters (including Friedman himself) claim, then why has he twice ducked questions on national television as to whether he will repeal the job-killing Family Leave Law that Gov. Gray Davis signed last September? Next July, that law will hit the state’s ailing economy like an atom bomb, allowing workers to take six weeks off with half-pay in order to–for example–spend time with grandma during her migraine. Employers expect mass absenteeism and millions in expenses to train temporary replacements.
In early August, Arnold ducked Matt Lauer’s question on this law and then famously feigned an audio malfunction. When asked at his August 20 press conference whether he would “work in defending this program,” he was at best non-committal: “No, no, I think that you have to look at those things.” There is no reason for conservatives to be optimistic about a candidate who at best lacks the courage to articulate conservative positions, and at worst lacks conviction.
Arnold is no conservative on taxes, either. Even as he complained about high taxes in his policy press conference, he refused to rule out tax hikes. “You can never say never,” he said. “We can have a natural disaster. We could have a terrorist attack or something like that.”
Conservatives should ponder Arnold’s real reason for keeping this option open. What kind of governor would raise taxes on citizens devastated by terrorism?
More likely, will he hike taxes because of a budget “emergency,” because he may have to. In his ignorance of the budget he has also promised that education spending–fully 46% of California’s 2003 budget–is “off the table” for cuts. (Schwarzenegger met with the California Teachers’ Association two days before making that promise in hopes of keeping their money out of the race. Remember that the next time he rails against “special interests.”)
With half the budget tied behind his back, how can Arnold close next year’s expected $13 billion budget shortfall? He would have to axe nearly 25% of the state’s remaining budget just to break even in 2004, to say nothing of the accumulated debt from the Davis years. Such cuts would be unrealistic even for a truly conservative governor. Instead, bet that unemployment check on an Arnold tax hike. Republican governors who refuse to take tax pledges always have plans to raise taxes. Just ask the voters in Alabama, Nevada, Georgia, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Even worse, Arnold has refused to propose specific budget cuts until he becomes governor and conducts a 60-day audit of the state’s finances. Begging patience for his own ignorance, he argued that “these problems were not created in two weeks and we will not be able to solve them in two weeks.”
By contrast, his conservative rival, state Sen. Tom McClintock, authored a 1995 policy paper suggesting 217 specific cuts to the state budget. He may not need a 60-day audit.
Schwarzenegger is neither an economic nor a fiscal conservative. Throw in the fact that he favors gun control; that he opposes Ward Connerly’s Racial Privacy Initiative (Prop. 54) and calls its proponents “right-wing crazies”; that he said he was embarrassed to be a Republican during Clinton’s impeachment.
Add in that Arnold has no plan to curtail or eliminate the financial burden of illegal immigration on the state; that he refuses to support the referendum to repeal the illegal-alien driver’s license law; that he is pro-abortion and supports homosexual adoption of children.
Which of these positions does Chris Cox agree with, so that he would lend this man his endorsement and thus his good name?
If Republicans must unite in the recall election, why should it be behind a liberal political weakling with no ideas, no vision and only the slightest chance of winning?
As the only candidate articulating a solution to the state’s crisis, McClintock was almost universally acknowledged as the winner of the first candidate debate (which Schwarzenegger skipped). He is the only one offering a clear contrast to Bustamante’s proposed $10 billion tax hike–a campaign promise that can be used against him only by a solidly anti-tax Republican.
As Schwarzenegger’s dodges and vague platitudes continue, the Arnold Conservatives should start considering the alternative. If they are willing to vote with their hearts, the true conservative just might win this race and–more importantly–turn the state around.
David Freddoso writes for Human Events.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire