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Sunday, August 17, 2003


that's what i've been saying...

posted by Trammell at Sunday, August 17, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Both here and at Points West I've been making the Rove and the CA recall case, as below:

[The recall] is not just about the future of the state, but the future of the nation. The Dems chances of taking back the White House diminish if the recall of Governor Gray Davis is successful and he is replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He will campaign relentlessly for George Bush, and force the Dem nominee -- hopefully, Dean -- to spend resources in the state that could otherwise be used in key battlgorund states. If you think he can't win, think again....If George Bush, with Arnold's help, eeks out a victory in California, Diane [Fenstein's] place in history will be toast...Some pundits think it's better for Bush to have an unpopular Davis remain in office to kick around. This scenario would require Schwarzenegger to become as unpopular as Davis to be good for Dems, which seems unlikely to me, so I must respectfully disagree.

Check out the comments from that thread, and you'll see that many believed I was loony to think that Bush could be competitive in California. So, here's the analysis from Thursday's Washington Post -- reading it was spookily familiar:

President Bush arrives in California today with his political fortunes increasingly tied to the powerful but unpredictable figure of Arnold Schwarzenegger. [...]

For better or worse, however, a number of Bush aides, Republican strategists and pollsters believe the Terminator's fortunes in the recall, if only because of his dominating presence in the race, will affect the president's reelection prospects next year in the nation's most populous state -- and possibly beyond.

One prominent adviser to Bush said the excitement behind the muscle man's candidacy means "California's not lost forever." On the other hand, said GOP strategist Scott Reed, "If Arnold flames out after this historic buildup, it'll look like Republicans can't get their act together. "Like it or not, the Bush White House is a little pregnant on the Arnold candidacy," Reed said.

In the best scenario for Bush, Davis is ousted, Schwarzenegger triumphs with a united Republican vote and California's bleak fiscal situation begins to improve. With the governorship in popular Republican hands, the state's 54 electoral votes, once a lost cause for the GOP, could come within Bush's grasp in 2004.

Alternatively, if Schwarzenegger's candidacy implodes, it could leave the Republicans without an obvious candidate to face reinvigorated Democrats. And Schwarzenegger's candidacy could turn the vote into a referendum on racial politics because he supported an immigration crackdown in 1994 that continues to infuriate Hispanics. Such a backlash could hurt Bush beyond California in 2004.

Bush's aides and advisers are caught between the potential risks and rewards. Though rumors swirl about involvement in the Schwarzenegger campaign by Karl Rove, Bush's top strategist, the White House is officially mum. "I haven't asked anybody to get engaged, and I'm not aware of anybody that has been engaged," Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. said yesterday.

The White House finds itself in the awkward position of playing spectator in a race that could alter Bush's political future. Though Rove cares so much about California that an associate calls the state "Karl's Ahab," the recall was driven by people at odds with the administration, such as Shawn Steel, who was pushed out by Bush allies as state Republican Party chairman. "It changes the fortune for the presidential campaign dramatically if we win," Steel said.

A Bush adviser acknowledged that "the recall was not something that we wanted to happen because it potentially gives the Democrats a chance to say what's happening in California is all about the recall process and not about the governor and his Democratic leaders." The adviser said Bush's 2004 prospects would be hurt if Davis, or Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D), prevails and performs well in office, or if a Republican wins and does poorly.

"There is fear that, beloved this year, the [new Republican] governor could be unpopular next year," a Bush campaign official said. "Maybe it's better to keep Gray Davis as a punching bag." [...]

The recall effort has already produced benefits for Bush. It has frozen the Democratic nominating contest in a desirable spot for him -- with no obvious challenger. The attention to California is also depriving the Democratic candidates of attention and is expected to cramp their fundraising.

Also, George "Duf" Sundheim, who became chairman of the state GOP earlier this year, said the recall has already boosted Republican voter registration, a potential benefit to Bush next year. "Whatever excitement there is will wear off, but the impact on registration will be lasting," he said.

Even if a Republican governor does not deliver California to Bush next year, Republicans believe it would make Democrats spend more time and effort to win the state. "We can distract the opposition long enough to make them vulnerable elsewhere on the national political landscape," said Dan Schnur, a California GOP operative.
And hey, said a bit differently, you heard it here first. I consider myself vindicated. But read the rest of the article, there are plenty of rays of Sunshine throughout and at the end. Let's all pray that Arnold implodes, he's down in recent polls and the press is turning on him in a big way. (Cross-posted in slightly different form at Points West)

UPDATE: Not sure how I missed it, but Billmon's anlaysis over at Whiskey Bar is quite exceptional. And, he's one the most entertaining and high-quality writers on the Web.


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.