November 10, 2008

Unterschtandink Ahnold

Hatched by Dafydd

What on earth was California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger thinking? (Don't worry, I'll tell you.)

Understanding Arnold is not easy in the best of circumstances -- and I'm not even talking about that thick Teutonic accent that he practices into a tape recorder every night. He almost epitomizes the cult of macho, and he's very pro-business; but on the other hand, he's a typical handwringing Hollywood liberal on every soft-hearted, soft-headed social issue you can imagine.

On the specific issue we're on about today, same-sex marriage (SSM), he's been all over the map: He first said he was opposed to SSM but supported domestic partnerships; in fact, in 2005 he famously vetoed SSM legislation passed by the California legislature on the grounds that the people of the state had spoken in Proposition 22 five years earlier, and the will of the people was paramount:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today delivered on his promise to veto legislation that would have given same-sex partners the right to marry, but said he would not support any rollback of the state's current domestic partner benefits.

But today, after the people spoke yet again -- this time with a state constitutional amendment, Proposition 8 -- Schwarzenegger suddenly decided that the will of the people is not paramount -- not when it conflicts with the vision of the judicially anointed. He called upon the California Supreme Court to declare the constitutional amendment unconstitutional... which I think might be a first:

Reporting from Sacramento and Lake Forest -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday expressed hope that the California Supreme Court would overturn Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage. He also predicted that the 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who have already wed would not see their marriages nullified by the initiative.

"It's unfortunate, obviously, but it's not the end," Schwarzenegger said in an interview Sunday on CNN. "I think that we will again maybe undo that, if the court is willing to do that, and then move forward from there and again lead in that area."

The theory, evidently, is that an amendment to the constitution is unconstitutional if it conflicts with any previously adopted section of the constitution... including whatever section it amends! If you follow this reasoning, it means that no constitution can ever be amended, except to add new rights that never previously existed. (For example, the Twenty-First Amendment is "unconstitutional" because it repeals the Eighteenth Amendment allowing the prohibition of alcohol.)

Schwarzenegger is very politically savvy; given that Proposition 8 passed handily, primarily due to the votes of Hispanics and blacks, isn't it a rather peculiar flip-flop for Schwarzenegger to undertake? What in the world is going on here?

All right, I said I would tell you what he's doing; here we go. There are a few California facts you must bear in mind:

  1. California has term limits for governor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger must leave office following the 2010 election. He still has aspirations for national elective office, however.
  2. At the same time, longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 90%) has been dropping hints all over the place that she plans to run for governor in 2010, when she wouldn't have to face the Schwarzenegger juggernaut. (Her term doesn't expire until 2012, but as governor, she could appoint her successor -- as Gov. Pete Wilson did following the 1990 gubernatorial election.)
  3. Here's where it gets interesting... if Feinstein is vacating her seat to run for governor, and Schwarzenegger is vacating his seat because of term limits, then it makes perfect sense for each of them to grab for the other's seat. It's the best chance for both of them to strike for an open seat, rather than trying to knock off a longstanding and popular incumbent.
  4. But there's a problem: The Republican brand is at a pretty low ebb in California right now. And in any event, Feinstein is certainly not going to appoint a Republican to replace her.

So my prediction is this: Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to switch parties and then run for Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat in 2012; he might even lobby her to appoint him in her place, if he agrees to caucus with the Democrats for the first two years. Then he would endorse her and campaign for her as governor.

Even if she won't appoint him, he will still have a very good shot at winning in 2012, since whoever replaces her will not have the name-recognition and built-in base that Feinstein enjoys.

Now, it would be ludicrous for Schwarzenegger to switch from Republican to Democrat immediately after campaigning for the GOP nominee for president; so my prediction is actually that he will switch parties to independent after he leaves office, then run for the Senate two years later -- either as the incumbent, if Feinstein appoints him, or as the challenger of an unelected appointee.

Eventually however, probably after the 2012 election, I believe Schwarzenegger will caucus with the Republicans; he will become our Joe Lieberman.

The change in his stance on SSM, then, can be seen as an "olive branch" to the left-leaning independents and moderate Democrats in this state. He assumes he'll retain most of his Republican base anyway; after all, they know he's been a liberal Republican (on social issues) for a long time -- no surprise there.

So I predict that Arnold Schwarzenegger will switch to independent and run for Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat. Just remember, you read it here first!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 10, 2008, at the time of 4:09 PM

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The following hissed in response by: lisan

Ummmm, why doesn't Ahhhnold just run against Bahbah Boxer? She comes up for re-election in 2010. That was always my thinking about ahhnold's future plans.

The above hissed in response by: lisan [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 10, 2008 6:12 PM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

The Governator is dead man walking politically.
The Republicans hate him.
The democrats laugh at him.
This bizarre and mindless corruption of the political process in California is disgusting.
The Cali supreme court thought they could just log roll the majority over destroying the definition of marriage with impunity.
Arnold, by trying to play both sides of this, has now shown himself to be without any steady compass.
If I understand correctly, Cali is now nearly completely bankrupt. With an uncontrolled border and no limits on who has access to state services, this will only get much worse.
Instead of trying to assist a tiny minority to redefine basic human relationships, perhaps the political class in Cali could do something to actually save their state?
And note to the lefty file:
democracy means that sometimes you lose votes.
And the more often you go into court and overturn popular votes, the less likely it is you will do well. If the prop to limit state services was in force, and not unlawfully tossed out by a Judge, Cali would not be sinking right now.
Deal with it.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 10, 2008 6:19 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E


To quote another famous Teuton, Arte Johnson, “Unbelievabbiggable.” (Not you, Dafydd.)

He still has aspirations for national elective office, however.

To quote one more Teuton, Henry Kissinger, when asked if he was disappointed that his foreign birth disqualified him from the presidency, he said, “I vas t’inking more like emperor.”

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 10, 2008 9:53 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Ummmm, why doesn't Ahhhnold just run against Bahbah Boxer? She comes up for re-election in 2010.

Because it's tougher to run against a fairly popular incumbent than against an empty chair.


The Governator is dead man walking politically.

So was George Bush in 2004. And Bill Clinton in 1996. And for that matter, Yassir Arafat on about 317 separate occasions.

Predicting that someone will soon be down for the count is fraught with peril. The fields are littered with the corpses of those whose last words were, "Ah, what's he gonna do about it!"


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 11, 2008 12:32 AM

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