In effecting his remarkable political comeback this year, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his team have very deftly melded his persona with that of other luminaries who have notably shared the stage with him. They’ve created an image synergy showing Schwarzenegger off in a different light than if he were on stage by himself, as was most frequently the practice in the past. In contrast, trailing Democratic challenger Phil Angelides has struggled in events joining the state treasurer with very prominent endorsers.
One major difference is in the types of events staged. Angelides, who frequently campaigned in his narrowly won Democratic primary victory over ex-eBay honcho-turned-state Controller Steve Westly by holding press conferences in Sacramento, holds events in which he holds forth. Very conventional events, press conferences and small rallies, featuring Democratic politicians and interest group leaders, in which Angelides holds himself forward as the expert.
Schwarzenegger’s events tend to be more interactive. They frequently feature him in a listening and learning mode, which helps deal with popular concern that someone of his background is arrogant. He tours a facility, frequently technical in nature. He asks questions of experts. He looks interested and engaged and humble. <a href=”“>The technique is illustrated here in this NWN video of Schwarzenegger campaigning against global warming in Silicon Valley with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Schwarzenegger then appears with one or more luminaries, usually the sort you wouldn’t expect to see at such an event. He kicked that off early this year with his State of the State address, attended by the two former Democratic governors, Jerry Brown and Gray Davis, but not by former Republican Governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian. Davis, of course, is the governor Schwarzenegger ousted in the recall. They’ve since become friendly. (Former First Lady Sharon Davis recently said that “Phil also would make a good governor.”) Brown is the flamboyant former presidential contender, Oakland mayor, and Democratic candidate for state attorney general.
Other against the grain luminaries appearing this year with the former action superstar include his Capitol partners in crime, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senate President Pro Don Perata, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former New York Mayor and 9/11 hero Rudy Giuliani, current New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Schwarzenegger makes humorous, self-deprecating remarks and then sums up authoritatively, weaving the particulars of whatever he has just seemed to absorb into his own upbeat version of things, using humor and camaraderie to play off what are, in essence, his co-stars.
Schwarzenegger has learned to be an ensemble player with other stars, yet always emerge as the dominant figure on the stage. Throughout, he is positioned as a big-time guy for a big-time state, bringing California back to a position of leadership for the rest of the country, and perhaps the world.
It’s a knack he first demonstrated during the 2003 recall campaign, when he emerged from a meeting at an LA airport hotel with his economic advisory panel with mega-investor Warren Buffett and former U.S. Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury George Shultz, and proved to be the dominant figure on the stage before a room full of skeptical media from around the world.
It’s something he got away from last year when his expansive and ill-conceived special election agenda of four “Year of Reform” initiatives crashed and burned.
But it was on full view last Thursday when he and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — a media billionaire who switched his lifelong Democratic registration to Republican to avoid a crowded Democratic primary and is now exploring an independent candidacy for president in 2008 — toured an innovative alternative energy technology firm in Silicon Valley.
The former Ion America, backed by major venture capital investors and headed by a veteran of NASA’s Mars project, K.R. Sridhar, Bloom Energy seeks to pioneer a new fuel cell industry. Also on hand was the former president of software giant Oracle Corp., Ray Lane, now a senior partner with Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers, the Valley’s leading venture capital firm. He extolled both the passage of California’s landmark global warming law, AB 32, as a forcing function for the development of new technology needed to avert climate change in a heavily urbanizing world, and the rise of Green Tech, which he sees as the next wave of massive innovation emerging from Silicon Valley.
After the tour and the preliminaries, Schwarzenegger and Bloomberg did their thing.
“We cannot sit around and wait for Washington do something,” Bloomberg said. “I’m trying to go around the country and support those who have the vision to take this country forward and not fall into the trap of partisan politics and the gridlock which I see throughout this country.”
Schwarzenegger agreed. “It is unbelievable,” he exclaimed. “They are frozen. They can’t do anything in Washington because it’s Democrats against Republicans, Republicans against Democrats. Rather than, ‘Let us solve the problems of this country,’” the governor said.
Bloomberg spoke at length about the Big Apple’s new climate change policies, including the announcement of plans to start a new office focusing on land use planning and environmental sustainability. He also said a major effort would soon be under way to inventory all greenhouse gas emissions in New York.
Of course there is more than one reason for Bloomberg’s trip to California, and one of those reasons is a possible independent presidential bid by Bloomberg in 2008. When asked by a reporter about the possible campaign, Schwarzenegger feigned surprise, winning big laughs.
“What? I can’t believe that. This is unbelievable,” the governor said.
The mayor had his own fun at the former Mr. Universe’s expense. “Nobody will ever accuse Arnold Schwarzenegger of being conventional, and that’s why he’s been a good governor,” Bloomberg said.
At one point, after going on about how partisan fighting in Washington is blocking all progress and the two of them are above that sort of thing, Schwarzenegger turned to Bloomberg and gushed, “He’s my soul mate. He’s the man.” He clasped him about the shoulders, nearly pulling him off balance.
Against this sort of thing, Angelides offers the usual conventional political stew of speeches to unions and other Democratic interest groups, lightly attended rallies, and lightly attended press conferences at which he holds forth in expert fashion. Even when he has a luminary of his own, there is no image synergy. If anything there is the reverse of synergy.
For example, Angelides was joined last week in the liberal enclave of West Hollywood by 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. To make the case that California, which went heavily for Kerry over Bush, would reject Schwarzenegger, who the Angelides campaign has taken to giving sole credit for the president’s re-election.
But the event drew only 50 to 75 people. At his own event later in the day, Kerry drew ten times that many people.
Schwarzenegger is a master of this sort of campaigning. Angelides is not.
Trailing by a substantial margin for months, with fundraising lagging and top Democrats openly skeptical of his chances, state Treasurer Phil Angelides is looking to a “hail Mary pass” play to get back in the game against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He think he’s found it with a proposal to withdraw California members of the National Guard from Iraq. But there are plenty of problems with the notion.
Angelides is expected to appear at anti-Iraq War rallies, which will help solve one of his problems, that of the very small crowds that he is drawing as a gubernatorial candidate. His rally last week in the liberal enclave of West Hollywood — featuring 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry — drew only 50 to 75 attendees.
That’s the upside for Angelides, along with the hope that this will be the way to pin the George W. Bush label on Schwarzenegger, who has visited the troops in Iraq and wants an exit plan but not an immediate pullout. But the National Guard is part of the reserve structure of the U.S. Armed Forces, which under national security doctrine aired in Congressional hearings plays an increasingly active role in the post-9/11 military. Under long-standing law, when members are “federalized,” as in time of war, state officials have no authority over them.
Unless called to active federal service, a state’s national guard is under the command of the governor, through the direction of the state guard’s adjutant general. When guard members are called to federal service the president of the United States is commander in chief.
That’s clear under Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which further states: “Members of the Army National Guard of the United States ordered to active duty shall be ordered to duty as Reserves of the Army. Members of the Air National Guard of the United States ordered to active duty shall be ordered to duty as Reserves of the Air Force.”
A state governor has no authority over either the U.S. Army or the U.S. Air Force. He or she is not in the chain of command. California guard members serving with the Army in Iraq are receiving regular U.S. military service medals, the Iraq Campaign Medal, not state awards.
Angelides yesterday reportedly personally called selected reporters to gain coverage of his idea to pull California National Guard members out of Iraq. Two newspapers, the only two daily newspapers which endorsed him over rival Steve Westly in the Democratic primary, covered the proposed move, the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee.
One wonders what Angelides’ most prominent supporters, the Clintons, think of this notion. It’s highly unlikely that President Bill Clinton would have looked favorably on a state-level politician attempting to interfere with his national command authority. Nor is it likely that Senator Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner for 2008, is favorably inclined.
Angelides’ comments apparently did not address this. We also don’t know what the other Democratic presidential candidates think of this.
Then there is the question of California’s two U.S. senators. Angelides says he will storm the halls of Congress to gain support for the pull-out of the state’s National Guard troops from Iraq.
It’s unlikely that Senator Dianne Feinstein, Angelides’ most important California backer and co-chair of his campaign, is going to support this. Even Barbara Boxer might not go along.
This activism on questions of war and peace is new for Angelides, at least in his career as an elected politician. Prior to this general election campaign against Schwarzenegger, Angelides has not proposed to crusade against American’s various military interventions.
But it does recall his first entry into politics, decades ago in the Vietnam War era. Inspired by legendary liberal and anti-war activist Allard Lowenstein, Angelides proposed to drop out of Harvard, where he was an undergraduate, and become a member of the Sacramento City Council. The then college sophomore did make a run for the city council, but lost to a longtime incumbent.
** The new All The King’s Men. Yea or nay? It’s very different from the 1949 original and quite different from the Robert PennWarren novel. This is only the second title ever to have won the Pulitzer Prize for best novel and the Academy Award for best picture. (The first being a little known property called Gone With The Wind.) Producer and director Robert Rossen, his last film Warren Beatty‘s psychosexual drama Lilith, took the best picture Oscar for All The King’s Men. Broderick Crawford, who played Governor Willie Stark, won the Oscar for best actor, while radio star MercedesMcCambridge — think NWN posters “CADTS” and “Ann” — won the best supporting actress Oscar for her motion picture debut as political operative Sadie Burke. (Her character, also absolutely central in the novel, has a much smaller role in the remake.)
“From the stench of the didie to the shroud of the grave, there is always something.” — Governor Willie Stark
** The latest Rothenberg Report, by Washington analyst Stuart Rothenberg, lists California as a safe gubernatorial seat for the incumbent. The Rothenberg Report had previously been cited by Democratic spinners as bad news for Schwarzenegger because of a possible anti-Bush tide around the country.
** The Los Angeles Times says Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides is in big trouble. Making points extremely familiar to New West Notes readers, the Times says Angelides and his campaign have made many mistakes in their attempt to upend Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The article even says the labor unions may direct their money elsewhere rather than embark on the anticipated big “independent” expenditure campaign for the state treasurer and former state Democratic Party chairmn.
In the first 20 days of September, the paper reports, Angelides raised $1 million. Schwarzenegger raised $2.6 million.
Angelides had another little rally yesterday, with environmentalists along the picturesque San Francisco waterfront. Variously estimated in size from 20 to 40 people, the crowd came together to hear attacks on Schwarzenegger and the announcement of the endorsement of the California League of Conservation Voters. The group endorsed the treasurer in his primary campaign against ex-eBay honcho-turned-state Controller Steve Westly.
** You’ve seen those clever ads for Phil Angelides’ gubernatorial campaign, paid for by the California Democratic Party, linking Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to President George W. Bush with footage of the former Mr. Universe’s sole campaign appearance in Ohio during the 2004 election. Problem. We’re now 45 days from the election as of midnight. State law disallows such TV ads as of right about … now. And yet, the Democrats have the ad booked through this weekend.
Why not possible? Because the ad was conceived and produced by veteran Democratic strategist Bill Carrick. In fact, he and I discussed the then upcoming ad, in an NWN video, last month. And Carrick is the media consultant and senior strategist for the Angelides campaign. So, with all due respect to the LA Times, unless somebody is able to convincingly argue that Bill Carrick is not coordinating with himself, that ad has to leave California’s air, pronto.
** Since it is late Friday afternoon on a fantastically exciting political day, it’s time for that popular new NWN tradition, the Arnold Clone Movie. In this video, ripped off from Mad TV and placed (by an awful lot of people) on YouTube, <a href=”“>the future governor discusses his then upcoming super-fantastic clone action movie hit, Stolen Identity III. Regretfully, the former Mr. Olympia does not discuss ethnological theory, computer security, or his favorite word in the Portugese language. Never let it be said that the governor of California is treated with anything but the utmost dignity here.
** Team Arnold is hitting their favorite punching bag, Taxatonny Phil Angelides, once again in two new TV ads, which are viewable here. In the first, the positive spot, Governor Arnold is extolled as the man who held the line on taxes while investing in the future and all that other good stuff. In the second, the negative spot, Treasurer Angelides, who the Arnistas delight in calling “Phil” (both familiarly and dismissively) is held forth as an evil taxer. Maybe that big speech he gave on April 5th in the Democratic primary, to read rival Steve Westly out of the Democratic Party while casting himself as the ultimate liberal Democrat, was a bit short-sighted.
** Never doubt how much the Phil Angelides campaign wants to link Arnold Schwarzenegger to George W. Bush. (Notice in yesterday’s NWN video how state Democratic chairman Art Torrres thumps the table with his hand for emphasis as he claims that Schwarzenegger is “solely responsible” for Bush’s re-election.) Continuing the theme, party press secretary Jeff Millman is noting that Stockton developer and San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos, who just hosted a big fundraiser for the former Mr. Universe, is one of the biggest contributors to the Progress for America committee, an important political arm of the Bush operation. He links another of Schwarzenegger’s top aides to Bush in this way, gubernatorial communications director AdamMendelsohn, generally thought of as one of the moderates for his past service to moderate Republican pols.
Here’s how it goes. Mendelsohn was vice president of DCI Group, a big-time Washington lobbying outfit. DCI worked for the Progress for America committee, with whom it also shared office space, say the Democrats. Further emphasizing the nefariousness of DCI, Mellman says, this is the firm that “created the astroturf video trying to discredit Al Gore‘s movie “An Inconvenient Truth;” they were the lobbyists recently for human rights abusing Myanmar State Police in Washington, and the company’s leadership came previously from tobacco giant R.J. Reynold’s lobbying and public affairs campaigns.”
So some of Schwarzenegger’s top people — you already heard about SteveSchmidt, Matthew Dowd, Katie Levinson, and Matt David — worked for Bush. This is offered as evidence of Schwarzenegger’s closet right-wing nature.
Conversely, some of Angelides’ top people, like Cathy Calfo and Bob Mulholland, worked for Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda‘s Campaign for Economic Democracy, regarded by many as a quasi-socialist outfit. Indeed, as a volunteer driver for Jane Fonda, Angelides himself, somehow distracted, got into a car crash. Serious enough that Fonda had to get alternate transportation.
Does this mean that Angelides is a socialist? Could we actually be in the midst of a contest between a hard right-winger and a socialist? Don’t think so.
** Coming this weekend, a column on how Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger uses his image and that of other major figures appearing with him to create a positive synergy. And why it is not working that way for Democratic gubernatorial challenger Phil Angelides. Accompanied by an NWN video illustrating how it works.
** Hollywood producer and real estate scion Steve Bing has added over $13 million to the oil extraction tax initiative, Proposition 87 on California’s November ballot. This brings his total contribution to the campaign to $40 million, easily a record. The measure would tax oil produced in California at the wellhead (California is the only major oil producing state without such a tax) and apply the funds, some $4 billion over 10 years, to alternative fuels research.
Why so much money? The initiative is in trouble. Starting out with a big lead in the polls, lately the Yes campaign has become mired in something of a message morass, while the opposition has been hammering away with tens of millions in oil industry advertising funds.
So Bing, who put in $10 million last week, as reported earlier, is coming to the rescue of the measure that he and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla seeded at the beginning. While the money is necessary to pull out a win, the message needs to be ramped up as well. Aside from pointing out that oil companies are making record profits, the Yes message has seemed lacking.
Meanwhile, the No side has been focused on one core message: Your gasoline costs will go up.
The No side has also been adept at disguising the oil companies’ absolutely central role, finding a way to put public safety types in front of the message and running TV ads in which the principal funders of the No campaign — two giant oil companies — are buried in an essentially illegible blizzard of other names at the bottom of the screen.
In the post-Prop 82 (failed Rob Reiner tax the rich for universal preschool initiative) era, voters are skeptical about any tax hikes for any seemingly great idea. That’s one reason you’ve seen Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides pull back so dramatically on the promised specificity of his tax hike program. The burden is on the Yes on 87 campaign to make its case, even in this time of suspicion of oil companies — probably subsiding somewhat with falling gas prices — and widespread concern about climate change.
** It was supposed to be a big event, to raise awareness for cancer research and see the Terminator lose, the ping pong match between Governor ArnoldSchwarzenegger and 80-year old senior games champion Byng Forsberg. Slated at one point for the Friday before Labor Day in Forsberg’s home town of Lodi, the event went off yesterday at the Stockton airport with no media in attendance, according to campaign press secretary Julie Soderlund. Stockton Record reporter Hank Shaw has a fuller report.
The ping pong match had taken on a life of its own, with international media clamoring to cover it. I was going to have video for you. Like Schwarzenegger, who had been practicing his ping pong so as not to be completely embarrassed by the spry senior, I had been practicing, too. Swinging the camcorder rapidly back and forth to follow the little white ball, then zooming in on the place where the former action superstar’s face would be to catch the look of dismay as he was smoked again. Alas, it was not to be.
Who won? Soderlund says the two men did not keep score. That bad, huh?
(NOTE: I will be traveling today monitoring the site and moderating comments via BlackBerry. I may or may not be able to approve your comments during this time. Whether that is the case or not, they will appear sometime today regardless.)
** LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa basked in the limelight in his own city earlier this week when his friend, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, came to town to sign the bill authored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez allowing his partial takeover of the sprawling and failing LA Unified School District.
** The UN says that violent deaths of Iraqis have reached a new two-month record. 6,559, some 700 more deaths than in the previous record two-month period.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices are down around 60 dollars per barrel. They rebouned from a six month-low, however, on market concerns that the U.S. will push for United Nations sanctions on Iran if the increasingly hostile mIslamic powerhouse does not abandon its nuclear program.
(NOTE: As I’m traveling today, I’ll have to moderate most of your comments via BlackBerry. Which we’ll see how that goes. In the event that is a kink not yet worked out, keep posting anyway, your comments will show up sometime today regardless. Thanks.)
GOVERNOR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, evidently confident of his own renewed popularity, apparently intends, starting in early October, to campaign heavily for the bipartisan infrastructure bonds package he called for in his State of the State address. Meanwhile, organized labor is working on finalizing its plans to take the former action superstar down. If not to defeat him, at least to keep trailing Democratic candidate Phil Angelides enough in play to keep Democratic turnout up enough to win down ballot races and prevail on some initiatives.
Being a great builder of California is one of Schwarzenegger’s dreams, something he has thought and talked of at least since 2002. After the misstep of last year’s special election, it is something he is back on course for, and it is a dream that many Democrats and independents share. But in this skeptical, post-Proposition 82 (failed Rob Reiner tax the rich for universal preschool initiative) environment in which even an innocuous library bond measure can be voted down in a campaign in which it had no opposition, passage of the megabond initiative package cannot be taken for granted.
So Schwarzenegger and the Democrats who worked with him to place the big bonds on the ballot will have to campaign hard if they are to have anything to show for their efforts. Some of the labor backers will also be criticizing the former Mr. Universe, which could make for some awkward moments. But if Angelides loses in a landslide, the bonds could go down as well, in addition to several Democratic candidates for other statewide offices.
That’s because a lot of demoralized Democratic voters could stay at home. So Angelides has to be made competitive. His “floor” in the vote is the “ceiling” currently for some of the lesser known down ballot Democrats. Unless that ceiling is raised, they lose.
The two state party chairmen, Silicon Valley lawyer Duf Sundheim for the Republicans and former state Senator Art Torres for the Democrats, engaged in a spirited and mostly friendly quasi-debate yesterday at the monthly luncheon of the Sacramento Press Club, seen here in this NWN video.
Sundheim extolled Schwarzenegger both for reviving Republican prospects in California, which had become close to a one-party state prior to the 2003 recall of Governor Gray Davis, and for moving past partisan gridlock to get things done.
Continuing the Angelides theme, Torres declared that Schwarzenegger was “solely responsible” for the re-election of President George W. Bush — on account of his single campaign appearance for him, in Columbus, Ohio — and argued that Schwarzenegger’s current centrism can’t be trusted because he is always changing and is not in charge anyway, merely doing what he is told by former top Bush aides Steve Schmidt and Matthew Dowd, now Schwarzenegger’s campaign manager and chief strategist.
Sundheim pointed out that some of Schwarzenegger’s biggest moves this year currently confounding Democrats, such as on global warming and the minimum wage, to the contrary,reflect long-held positions.
And so it went. It was an informative and entertaining slice of the California campaign debate, encapsulated in one joint appearance.
How could Schwarzenegger campaign on his positive, bonds-oriented rebuilding theme while Angelides and his allies are spending much of their time attacking him? That’s easy. He takes one tack on the campaign trail. His campaign takes another tack on the air.
** A veritable who’s who of Hollywood stars, including some of the biggest like Tom Cruise, is coming out against a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near Malibu. This could pit them against the man who was once the biggest movie star on the planet, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former Mr. Universe generally supports LNG. And he has had a friendly relationship with the Australian firm seeking to develop the project, BHP Billiton.
California is heavily dependent on natural gas, the relatively clean burning fossil fuel, to run its electric power plants. But America has a very limited supply of natural gas, about a decade’s worth according to most commonly accepted estimates of reserves. Enter importation, in the form of LNG. There’ve been LNG fights in California before, dating back to the 1970s. The proponents have always lost, usually on safety grounds. As I revealed in 2004, LNG proponents hired Schwarzenegger’s then chief political advisor, Mike Murphy, to promote LNG in a million-dollar PR campaign. The campaign never really emerged in public form, but the issue has hung around on account of the energy situation.
** At a joint appearance with California Republican Party chairman Duf Sundheim at the Sacramento Press Club, state Democratic chairman Art Torres declared that Arnold Schwarzenegger is responsible for the re-election of President George W. Bush. I’ll have more on this, along with a video.
Incidentally, you may have gathered that I am taking advantage of the relative lull in California political news to rest my back a bit. It was quite exciting, while writing my Tuesday morning column at oh dark hundred hours, to find that I was unable for half an hour to get up from my desk chair.
** Amidst concern about some members of the statewide Democratic ticket in California, the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor, two-time state Insurance Commissioner and former Clinton subcabinet member John Garamendi, has picked up his fundraising and reportedly booked a million dollars in TV advertising a few days ago. He’s also added Democratic strategist Jason Kinney to the mix. Kinney, a former top aide to Governor Gray Davis and publisher of the California Majority Reporter, has penned some strong missives this week pointing up the contrasts between Garamendi’s opponent, Tom McClintock, and Schwarzenegger himself. McClintock, California’s leading conservative politician, “wants to party like it’s 1899,” quips Kinney.
Garamendi led McClintock by 10 points in the most recent public poll, but by a smaller margin in a more recent private Democratic poll.
** Steve Westly, the ex-eBay honcho-turned-state Controller who narrowly lost the Democratic primary for governor of California, resurfaces again to show part of his political hand. This time in the form of a political action committee, the California Leadership Committee. To be funded with up to a million dollars a year, Westly’s CLC will focus on helping candidates from emerging communities (in terms of ethnicity and sexual preference) and moderate business types. In addition to financial help, Westly’s PAC will provide candidate skills training.
Westly himself improved dramatically as a candidate during the primary past, from his test market tour of rural Oroville and Chico at the beginning of February when the brand-new New West Notes checked out the new gubernatorial candidate, to the end of the primary campaign, when he was a pretty polished performer. For someone who spents tens of millions of dollars from his personal fortune and took a very slight lead into election day only to come up short, Westly is in remarkably good spirits. Perhaps that’s because he saved $40 million likely spent on what would have been a tough general election campaign against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Kidding aside, the former Stanford business lecturer is a generally sunny character. While he puts together the CLC for the future, and contemplates his business moves in Silicon Valley, he is helping Phil Angelides (he appeared with him at that embarrassingly tiny West Hollywood rally Monday with 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry). He is also helping Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi in his tough campaign for lieutenant governor against state Senator TomMcClintock, the state’s top conservative pol, as well as moderate Dems Nicole Parra, running for re-election to the state Assembly in Bakersfield, and Lou Corriea, seeking a Senate seat in Orange County. He’s also personally lobbying Schwarzenegger, with whom he has an amiable relationship, to sign another bill combating global warming, Bay Area Assemblyman Joe Nation‘s AB 1012, which would require half the new vehicles sold in California to run on alternative fuels by 2020. And he is co-chairing the two transportation initiatives on the November ballot, Propositions 1A and 1B.
As for what might have been, well, he doesn’t think about that any more than you might imagine. With regard to what might have been, I’m not aware of any high-ranking Republican strategist who does not think the governor’s race would be a lot tighter than it is now if Westly were the Democratic nominee.
** New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joins Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in Silicon Valley on Thursday to talk global warming and fundraising (for Schwarzenegger, Bloomberg is a billionaire). Bloomberg, a former Democrat elected as a very moderate Republican to the Big Apple’s top public job, is reportedly contemplating an independent candidacy for the presidency in 2008, fueled largely by his media fortune (Bloomberg News Service). According to a well-informed source, he is very interested in what California is doing to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and wants to discuss it with Schwarzenegger and high tech industry figures.
** A top political media consultant confirms that TV advertising costs are skyrocketing in California elections, saying that those campaigns which have not already locked in their buys are in for a bad surprise. “Pity the poor souls who are hand to mouth,” he says. “Example…SFO (San Francisco market) is now $1,500 per point…not too long ago in the 90′s a STATEWIDE point was $1,500.”
** Republican Chuck Poochigian, candidate for California attorney general, is putting two TV ads on the air attacking the frontrunner, former Governor and current Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown.Here is the link, however, they are not viewable on some web browsers. It is unclear how much the campaign is spending on these ads, which criticize Brown for crime in Oakland and ridicule past statements. Prior to Brown launching his TV campaign last week, Poochigian had spent more on his campaign than the two-time runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination. That despite the fact that Poochigian, a Fresno area state senator and former aide to Republican governors, was unopposed for his party’s nomination while Brown had to fend off a multi-million dollar campaign against him in the Democratic primary. The Poochigian campaign prides itself on its innovative Internet campaign, including extensive use of YouTube. Brown videos, however, have several times the YouTube viewership of those of his trailing Republican challenger.
UPDATE: Clicking on the Poochigian campaign’s TV ad facts link yields error messages.
FURTHER UPDATE: The Poochigian campaign says it is working to correct the error message problem.
FINAL UPDATE: The Poochigian campaign has corrected the weblink error problem with regard to the TV ad fact checks referenced on the campaign’s press release. The TV ads themselves, however, still do not play on my Firefox or Safari web browsers.
** The new Gallup Poll shows significant improvement for President George W. Bush and the Republican Party nationally, with Bush’s job approval back up to 44% and congressional preference between Democrats and Republicans now evenly split among likely voters, 48% to 48%. This continues the trend reported here last week, picked up by the Zogby telephone poll. Although most of the gain was among Republicans, the long-anticipated anti-Bush/anti-Republican tsunami seems to be subsiding. Why the shift? Falling gasoline prices and a renewed focus on the Terror War.
Anyone wondering about the uphill challenge faced by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides as he seeks to unseat Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger need only consider yesterday’s events. Schwarzenegger appeared with his friends, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, signing their bill for LA schools reform before 15 TV cameras at the LA Public Library. Angelides, meanwhile, trying again to rally the Democratic base, drew only a small crowd over in West Hollywood even though 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry appeared with him.
The Massachusetts senator easily defeated President George W. Bush for California’s electoral votes in 2004. But whatever residual magic Kerry has in California failed to transfer to Angelides, as only 75 people turned out to hear the gubernatorial hopeful’s now familiar message that Schwarzenegger equals Bush, even though his narrowly defeated primary rival, ex-eBay honcho-turned-state Controller Steve Westly, was also on hand to help with the effort.
Although he linked the Republican governor to the Republican president, and said that California needs a governor who is a Democrat all the time, not just during the election, Kerry managed, as this AP report makes clear, not to mention Schwarzenegger by name in the process, perhaps surprising until you consider that he and the action superstar are old friends. Kerry and Schwarzenegger became friends back in the 1970s when Kerry’s friend, documentary filmmaker George Butler, made Pumping Iron. Their friendship has continued through overlapping social circles in Sun Valley and elsewhere.
While Angelides continued to struggle in his quests to rally the Democratic base and to make Californians think of Schwarzenegger and Bush as synonymous — even with Bush’s 2004 Democratic opponent on hand to help — Schwarzenegger continued to show the power of his renewed bipartisan stance and of incumbency itself.
The former action superstar was repeatedly lauded by his friends Villaraigosa and Nunez, who for his part went out of his way to praise Schwarzenegger for pushing the mayor’s LA schools partial takeover and reform bill even before it was actually written. The three, along with other Democrats, will continue to appear together during the rest of the campaign as they push for the passage of the state’s massive bipartisan infrastructure bonds package in the November election.
Schwarzenegger had another significant event yesterday, announcing his signing of a package of ocean protection bills and appearing before more than a thousand people attending the California and World Oceans conference in Long Beach.
There, joined by the other two West Coast governors, Oregon’s Ted Kulongoski and Washington’s Chris Gregoire, via live satellite from Portland, Schwarzenegger announced the formation of a Pacific Coast states alliance to protect ocean and coastal resources.
In the process, Angelides’ attempt to gain traction by appearing with Kerry was squelched, his effort to define Schwarzenegger as a right-wing Republican subverted by the former Mr. Universe’s association with California’s top Latino politicians and protectors of the environment.
It’s the sort of thing Angelides and company have been encountering in the past, and can continue to expect in the future as they attempt to climb out of the cul de sac they placed themselves in with the attempt to embarrass Schwarzenegger by leaking private tape of a politically incorrect conversation to the Los Angeles Times.
** Senator John Kerry joined Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides for a rally of 75 people to stir up the Democratic base for the state treasurer in the liberal enclave of West Hollywood. Kerry performed the delicate task of linking Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to President George W. Bush … without mentioning the former action superstar’s name. Turns out that Kerry and Schwarzenegger are old friends, through George Butler, the documentary filmmaker who did Pumping Iron, as well as Going Upriver, a film about Kerry’s Vietnam War heroics in the Brown Water Navy and subsequent anti-war activism.
Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger joined with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez to sign the bill granting the popular LA mayor a partial takeover of the sprawling, failing Los Angeles Unified School District. Nunez went out of his way to praise Schwarzenegger, saying: “I want to thank Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for being the first one to jump forward to say ‘I support this bill’ before he’d even seen it and said ‘I am going to sign this bill.”
Schwarzenegger also, while signing a series of ocean protection bills at another event, joined in a live video conference with the governors of Oregon and Washington to announce an alliance of West Coast states to preserve marine life along the Pacific Coast of the U.S.
** When they launched the TV ad linking Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and President George W. Bush last month, as reported here and elsewhere, the Phil Angelides for Governor campaign said it was the start of a two million-plus buy on the treasurer’s behalf by the California Democratic Party. Angelides proceeded to go nowhere in the polls. Now, via the Los Angeles Times and columnist George Skelton, media consultant Bill Carrickis saying that what they did was spend several hundred thousand dollars testing the ad. Now the real push is on. Okay then. “Tomorrow, tomorrow, it’s only a dream away.”
** The controversial ABC miniseries, The Path To 9/11, ended up doing pretty well in the ratings despite widespread calls from the left, and former President Bill Clinton, that it be pulled off the air.Now its writer talks about the film and the vehement reaction against it, and against him. Here he talks about what he calls the LA Times’ distortions of his background. I pointed out over a week ago that it was not at all clear that he is a right-winger, as reported breathlessly on the Huffington Post and other lefty outlets. After all, he’d worked closely with Oliver Stone and written some pretty liberal-sounding projects. But this is an era in which hyperpartisans — on both far sides of the aisle — have become adept at screaming their mantras and building their straw men.
As to the miniseries itself, I did watch it but was too busy and tired in a very busy week last week to write about it. I think the producers made a very serious mistake in including a key scene — so key that it was featured in the European trailer for the miniseries — in which Clinton’s National Security Advisor Sandy Berger lets Osama bin Laden get away from a CIA trap in real time. That just didn’t happen. It is dramatic. But it is false. There were a few other instances in which it seemed the producers aimed to make Clinton look bad. Of course, saying that he was distracted from the emerging struggle with Al Qaeda by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which the president’s friends object to, is only to state the obvious. They said at the time the controversy over the affair was a distraction from affairs of state, after all.
Which is not to say the producers let George W. Bush off the hook. His administration looks largely clueless. Casting the great villainess of 24 as Condi Rice was not so subtle, either.
Putting the politics, and the egregious political errors, aside, it was a very well-done piece of cinema. As in Oliver Stone’s classic JFK, The Path To 9/11 presented an enormous amount of dense and complex material in a coherent and compelling manner. The extensive use of handheld cameras was highly effective, especially in Part I, the more interesting of the two parts since it is the least familiar.
** Now that he has learned that seeming to quote with some approval a line that declares Islam to be a an “evil and inhuman” religion is not a terribly good idea, it will be interesting to see how Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Turkey goes this fall. The pope, formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is a conservative intellectual. His remarks, delivered in Germany, contained the controversial reference to a dialogue of a 14th century Byzantine emperor. Your eyes are already glazing. Hopefully the pope understands that he is now in politics. And in politics, you don’t really say what you might say delivering an obscurantist intellectual speech to a group of fellow ideologues.
Of course his remark can be ripped out of context and flashed around the world in an instant. This is the 21st century, not the 19th century, nor the 14th century, for that matter. (Although read in context the quote remains problematic as written, since the pope does not make it at all clear that he disagrees with the sentiment.) And, as we know, this is a highly charged period marked by religious zealotry with automatic weapons and worse.