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Tuesday, October 28, 2003


Action Heroes or Abbott and Costello?,1,7871515.column?coll=la-news-politics-california

posted by Trammell at Tuesday, October 28, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Ron Brownstein writing in today's Los Angeles Times predicts slapstick ahead for Ah-Nold and Dub-ya. In fact, as I've been saying, Ah-nold seems to have more in common with the Dems -- and if you add in campaign themes and styles -- particularly Howard Dean:
But, inevitably, Schwarzenegger's top priority in Washington has to be federal help to close the state's budget deficit. Bush has consistently resisted large-scale federal assistance to the states.

This year, Bush reluctantly accepted a temporary $20-billion state aid package as the price of winning the last two Senate votes for his tax cut plan. But Bush has shown no interest in expanding or extending that aid. Meanwhile, Democratic presidential contenders such as retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean are promoting plans to funnel $40 billion or more to the cash-starved states over the next two years.

On health care there's a similar convergence. Schwarzenegger said he wanted to reduce the state's huge number of uninsured by expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program, a state-federal partnership. Bush hasn't proposed any funding increase for the program. But Democratic contenders such as Dean and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina want to provide enough federal money to significantly broaden eligibility for CHIP without requiring states to contribute any more dollars.

One of Schwarzenegger's top educational priorities is expanding after-school programs, an idea Democrats favor too. Bush, though, this year proposed cutting federal assistance for such programs by 40%. [...]
Right out of the gate, Arnold may very well become a liability for Bush, and vice-versa. Such stark differences on these issues -- and note in the main article there is another section on immigration that is key -- present a number of lion-training opportunities for the Democratic nominee -- with Bush and Arnold playing the clowns. I can see the thirty-second spots already, but first, this one is a biggie, too:
On energy and the environment, the pattern is even more dramatic. Schwarzenegger says he wants to require utilities to produce 20% of California's electricity from renewable sources like solar energy by 2010, and 33% by 2020.

Meeting that goal would be easier if Washington required utilities nationwide to increase their reliance on renewable energy. That would enlarge the market for renewables, accelerating technological breakthroughs. Democratic presidential hopefuls such as [Howard] Dean, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts support such a federal standard; Bush opposes it.

Schwarzenegger also said he would defend in court the law Davis signed last year requiring cars to reduce the emissions associated with global warming -- a mandate automakers could probably meet only by significantly improving mileage. In a related case, the Bush administration has already signaled it might challenge that law as an infringement on Washington's authority to set fuel economy standards.

Similarly, Schwarzenegger indicated he wanted to renegotiate the expensive long-term electricity contracts Davis signed with utilities during the state's energy crisis. But last June, two Bush appointees on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said the contracts could stand.

On all of those fronts, the Democratic candidates would seem likely to appoint officials more open to the state's arguments. [...]

These potential conflicts with Bush -- not to mention Schwarzenegger's support for renewing the federal ban on assault weapons, which the administration appears willing to let die in Congress -- will test the new governor's political skills. He clearly wants to remain close to Bush, a hero to California Republicans. But Schwarzenegger has committed himself to a program much more centrist than Bush's. If Schwarzenegger truly means to advance the agenda he ran on, he may have no choice but to regularly bang heads with his buddy in the Oval Office.
So, just when you thought the circus was over -- not yet! Bush has the most to lose, and is the one most likely to lose from these differences of opinion.

However, Bush will try to drape himself in Ah-nold's "cloak" where it's handy, and then make a sharp turn right when he's out of sight. Adding to the hilarity, Arnold's conservative GOP team will almost certainly be butting heads with the Dems on his team, and even worse in California, their moderate-GOP rivals. We can't let Bush have it both ways -- yet another reason to support Dean. In crisp, clear language Dean can explain this disconnect directly to voters. And if Ah-nold is smart, he may find that is no more fun for him to stump for Bush than it was for Dean to stump Davis. Who said irony was dead? Not with these two "action heroes" buttin' heads! Send in the clowns!


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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.