December 28, 2005

A Kennedy We Perhaps Can Live With

Hatched by Dafydd

I'm certain I am not alone in my willingness to give Schwarzenegger's new chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, the benefit of the doubt for a while... but you sure wouldn't know it by reading the blogosphere, left or right. It seems that everybody has an opinion on the gal, and every opinion is negative: the left thinks she's Beatrice Arnold, while the right thinks she's just a cat's paw for Phil Angelides. I recall Hugh Hewitt being particularly scathing about her on his radio show, though I can't find anything about her on his website.

But today's New York Times profile of Susan Kennedy just confirms me in my Kennedy agnosticism: if she's telling the truth, then her appointment implies no "leftward drift" at all in Schwarzenegger's agenda. (If she's lying, well then, she's lying.)

There are some amusing paragraphs, however....

"You should know our sellout Susan Kennedy is having lunch at Chops right now with [the Cal-GOP] party chairman - probably re-registering," the blog, Flashreport, reported recently, quoting a Democrat as one of two informants about the lunch.

Er, excuse me, Mr. Report, but what did you expect the incoming chief of staff of a Republican governor to do? Tell the state Republican Party chairman to go soak his head?

Here are the basics of the argument for Ms. K:

But Ms. Kennedy said she had decided to join the Schwarzenegger administration because she believed in the governor's agenda. She said rebuilding the state's infrastructure, including its pocked freeways and woefully inadequate public transportation system, without raising taxes ranked at the top of their shared priority list.

Though a lesbian who was, as she frequently describes it, "married" to her partner in a 1999 commitment ceremony on Maui, she supported the governor's veto this year of a bill that would have allowed same-sex marriage in California. She cited the voters' support for defining marriage as between a man and a woman in a statewide ballot measure several years ago and suggested that pushing the gay rights envelope too far could prompt a backlash.

Both Ms. Kennedy and the governor also say they support the death penalty and abortion rights. They are both pro-business, and they both insist that the time has come for the state, entrenched in a vicious partisan divide, to set aside party labels and create what Ms. Kennedy described as "a new kind of politics."

Clearly, she is not a conservative; but then, neither is Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he did not run as a conservative, either. We had a conservative in the same recall election in which the Governator was elected: Tom McClintock. He came in third, with less than half the votes of the ultra-liberal, MeCHA-supporting Cruz Bustamante.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger himself put it,

"I'm not stuck on my philosophy in a groove, like some people are - like the Republican or right-wing philosophy," he said. "I look at a Republican or a Democrat idea, and what it tells me about whether it's the right decision."

All of which makes the following attitude -- shared by every right-of-center political commentator I've heard or read -- pretty hilarious. Or it would be hilarious, if I didn't have to live in this furshlugginer state:

Some conservative Republicans have indicated they may not support the governor for re-election in the Republican primary next June.

Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly, a conservative organization, said the Kennedy appointment had prompted a flurry of e-mail messages from "thousands" of disenchanted members.

"We were betrayed," Mr. Spence said. "We were loyal during the special election, loyal when he was criticized, and he turns around and puts a liberal partisan Democrat in charge."

Loyal? During the 2005 special election? It is to laugh! It was precisely the mulish refusal of the conservatives to turn out and vote that caused the catastrophe of that election. They couldn't even find the huevos to show up and vote for some minor restrictions on abortion, for the love of Mike! Let alone the truly crucial issues of defunding the Left and taking redistricting out of the hands of a state legislature that has so abused its authority that in 2004, not a single state Senate or Assembly seat changed parties.

Who do they plan to support in the 2006 primaries? McClintock again? And when Schwarzenegger wins the nomination (of course), will they once again stay home in droves, handing the victory to ultra-liberal Phil Angelides... who will certainly immediately sign a "genderless marriage" bill the moment the state legislature hands it to him again (they handed it to Arnold, but he vetoed it), and to hell with the will of the state voters. A Gov. Angelides will likely outlaw the death penalty, remove any and all restraints on abortion, and funnel tax money straight into the state Democratic Party coffers. But at least the California conservatives will be morally pure.

What clods the California Republican Party elite are. What ineffectual dolts. They are usless lumps of protoplasm who have been able to win only two major statewide election contests (two out of eleven) since 1994, both for the relatively powerless office of Secretary of State: Bill Jones' reelection in 1998 and Bruce McPherson's election last year (Arnold's victory in the 2003 recall came in spite of the Cal-GOP's lack of support.) No regular-election GOP wins for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, or either U.S. senator in ten years. The California Republican Party is one of the biggest running jokes in the country... especially considering that California is not a wildly liberal state, the way Massachusetts and Vermont are (both of which currently have Republican governors elected in regular elections; the Cal-GOP couldn't even beat Gray Davis, who won in 2002 with an approval rating of about 30%).

There is some hope that Susan Kennedy will at least be given the opportunity to show whether she is a hero or a goat, however:

"I am hearing from Republicans from both the Senate and the Assembly, as well as activist Republicans in the governor's office who are interacting with Susan regularly now, and what I'm hearing is they are impressed," Mr. [Jim] Brulte said.

Republican Brulte is the former state Senate minority leader, and he is probably still in contact with many Republicans in office here. Evidently, they feel a bit constrained from speaking out in public in support of Ms. Kennedy; but if Brulte is to be believed (and I don't know why not), they're more supportive in private.

I'm taking a wait-and-see on this appointment; I really think those assailing her are doing her -- and the state -- an injustice. They're trying to destroy her before she even begins. In other words, the California GOP is once again acting like the Democrats.

Too bad they can't win any California elections like the Democrats do.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 28, 2005, at the time of 3:32 PM

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The following hissed in response by: aphrael

Perhaps you aren't considering this a major statewide office, but the CA-GOP folks *were* able to get Chuck Quackenbush re-elected in 1998. Which wasn't necessarily a good thing.

Also, as much as I love the man and have voted for him in the past (he used to be my State Senator), Bruce McPherson did *not* win a statewide election. He was appointed Secretary of State after the elected one, Kevin Shelley (a Democrat), resigned under a cloud of scandal.

The above hissed in response by: aphrael [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 10, 2006 11:39 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Ah, so we knock off McPherson and add Quackenbush in his place... so the net number is still the same!


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 10, 2006 12:12 PM

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