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Arnold Dances with those who ‘Brung Him

Dec
8
2005

When you consider the common axiom that you “dance with who brung you”…Governer Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appointing Susan Kennedy to be his chief of staff makes nothing but sense.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s regime in Sacramento is diverse, but its members fall generally into three categories:

  1. Wilson Alumni – We’re not talking about graduates of Princeton’s School of International Affairs here, unfortunately. With such a large number of staffers who had worked under former Governor Pete Wilson hired at the beginning of Schwarzenegger’s Governorship, some critics were calling his election Pete Wilson’s Third Term.

  2. Political Consultants – The relationship between Governor Schwarzenegger and his political consultants—the most high-profile of which is the Navigator’s Mike Murphy–has been more transparent than in any previous administration, shedding a light on how the political gurus have guided policy; and
  3. Principled Liberals – There are a number of Democrats and left-of-center people, such as the original Cal EPA head Terry Taminen, who joined the Schwarzenegger Administration because they saw him for what he was—an economically conservative, socially liberal man who wanted to clean up the broken governance structure in California.

Of these three models of Gubernatorial staff, two of them have been abject failures: Those who are more loyal to party or pocketbook than to the man in the horseshoe.
When Governor Schwarzenegger’s poll numbers began to weaken earlier this year, he started talking about illegal immigration…and his numbers began to plummet. It’s not hard to figure out who gave him such advice – Wilson’s guys – but unlike 1994, this time, the political climate was and is, very different.
When Governor Schwarzenegger declared 2005 the “Year of Reform,” political consultants—both his and others, began to salivate. Rather than engage in a negotiating, both sides entrenched themselves on the road to a Special Election. In the end, the only people who benefited from the Special Election were the consultants working for Governor Schwarzenegger (Murphy’s firm made six figures in consulting fees) and those working against him (McNally Temple, the Democratic advisors, pulled in a half-mil.).
But, in reality, the only model that has served Schwarzenegger well has been to ignore partisan labels and hire the best person for the job among those who are committed to his Reform Agenda. This has served him well in Environmental Policy, in the Corrections Departments, and this is exactly the type of person – a Principled Libearal – that Susan Kennedy is.
When Governor Schwarzenegger announced Kennedy’s appointment, she said, “I believe in what he’s trying to do for the state and where he’s trying to take California…This is not about being against Democrats. This is about being for change.”
I don’t know about you, but ever since he decided to run for office, that’s what I thought Governor Schwarzenegger was all about.
The base of the Republican Party made the same mistake as California’s gay community in assessing the Governor. Because he agreed with them on some issues—economics in the case of the former, partnership rights in the case of the latter—they projected their world view on the man rather than listen to what he was actually saying.
And when, in the end, Arnold revealed himself to be the person that he said he was all along, they got equally enraged. If you’ve actually paid attention to Governor Schwarzenegger—and put down the blinders of activist groups or the mainstream media—it is hard to get upset with him over his choice of an experienced administrator who believes in his cause to be his Chief of Staff.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 2:29 PM | Permalink

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