My argument is pretty straightforward.
The recall provision is in the California Constitution in black and white. Recall petitions were in circulation for a long time, and received some significant–publically known and acknowledged–funding. Davis can’t say the thing snuck up on him from nowhere.
David can read; so can his political advisors. Everyone knew he was unpopular–no, not “unpopular,” ABYSMALLY FRIGGIN UNPOPULAR LIKE NO-ONE ELSE IN STATE HISTORY. Response: “uh…[dial tone]”
At that point, then, we have some obvious “facts on the ground”. If Gray Davis is to remain in office, he will have to spend a helluva lot of time campaigning, have to spend a lot of money, have to systematically trash his opponents, and have to call in such few chips as he might have among his fellow Dem politicians. None of which makes him more endearing. This in a state known for participatory democracy, government by initiative, popular “voter rebellion”, distaste for professional pols, and a love for celebrity and mediagenic figures.
Which is to say: it BEGINS as a very bloody, difficult struggle in which Davis is VERY MUCH the underdog. That would be more than enough to make, say, Richard Reardon the presumptive victor. And he said he was interested.
And then Arnold pulls his dramatic masterstroke and enters the race after making fools of everyone who was sure he wouldn’t.
So: one of the world’s most familiar, popular figures, a virtual symbol of hard-striving advancement and the traditional masculine virtues… versus this guy that just about everyone can’t stand, defending himself amid deep popular discontent and economic worry and horrific and disgusting budgetary combat; with his reedy, nasal voice, rhythmless body language, strangely glowing hair that seems to float off on its own, stiff and skinny body, reputation for ugly cut-and-slash campaigning, lack of anything like big ideas or clear direction–besides which he’s the veritable dictionary illustration of “pencil-necked geek.” And did I mention the car tax?
So it’s sorta Walt Disney with muscles versus Richard Nixon without the charm.
Does it sound like Gray Davis had what one might term a “reasonable chance?”
But maybe Arnold will self-destruct. Maybe the Cal GOP will terminate him for being pro-choice and pro-gay. Maybe, just maybe, there’ll be so many Republicans on the ballot that the vote will be split, or confusing, or something. (Not that this would directly affect the recall question itself.) Maybe if ALL of the Demo party unites behind Gray, maybe if no visible Democrat appears on the ballot, maybe if it becomes just Dems vs. Gops, not Davis versus Davis…maybe, maybe.
OK, maybe. Not exactly likely, not even very plausible, really, but if you’re a real dreamer you might (barely) make a (weak and speculative) case for it.
Except the Lt. Gov, a Democrat, gets into it.
So what are the odds then?
It’s a little like Iraq. Saddam Hussein and his ragtag army, already defeated once, badly, in days; versus the United States and Britain. No, I didn’t say Bahrain and Nepal. Whatever the “morals” of the situation, the chances of the former going toe to toe and actually defeating the latter are such that you want to say–and I did say–“Saddam, buddy, in the best interests of your army, your people, your country and all that’s holy, the best course right now is to just give in and give up. Doncha think?” He didn’t; his regime got terminated.
If Davis absolutely had to spend money and fight for his friggin job–and I don’t take his “right” to do that as a foregone conclusion under the circumstances–surely there was some point prior to vast expenditures by the State of California by which he could have said, “I read the polls. I’m far too unpopular to really recover. It’s doubtful on the face of it that I can win this thing. I want to ‘stop the expensive recall’ and prevent the creation of what I regard as precedent misuse of this constitutional provision. I hereby resign as Governor. Your new Governor is Cruz Bustamante. Gratitude, God, first Latino in modern times, proud, blablabla, bye.”
Bustamante, a liberal Democrat.
Shouldn’t loyal Democrats–and a few others besides–be absolutely furious at Davis for putting his ego ahead of (a) the good of the party, (b) the survival of the “liberal view”, © the wellbeing of the State of California?
Shouldn’t he be treated with well-deserved contempt–not for losing… but for running?