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He should have stayed in the movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger, now limping through his last year as Governor of California, is still wildly popular — outside California. European leaders, especially, remain eager to have photo-ops with the Governator. Perhaps it's the residual Hollywood glamour. It cannot be because he is successful.

While his tenure has been a huge disaster, it didn't start out that way. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, was elected in 2003 to replace Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat, in an unprecedented recall election. Davis was completely discredited immediately after winning re-election in 2002 when it was revealed that the state had a $38 billion budget deficit.

Davis's recall evoked memories of Democratic Governor Pat Brown's stunning loss to Ronald Reagan in 1966. The state was in a mess and voters gambled on a politically untested Hollywood star. With a bigger mess in 2003, Schwarzenegger ran as the super action hero he so often played. Voters decided that he was just the kind of tough outsider needed to knock heads together.

The new Governor thus began with strong popular support to cut spending and take on the powerful unions. He was making modest progress until he placed several significant reform measures before the voters in a 2005 special election. The unions raised $160 million and defeated them all.

How should a super action hero respond to his first defeat? Surely, like Reagan, by fighting back. Unfortunately, Schwarzenegger was no Reagan. It's easier to play a super hero on the screen than to be one in real life. Schwarzenegger responded by becoming just another politician. He gave up on cutting spending or fighting the unions. He moved abruptly to the Left, abandoned his Republican allies, and brought in Democrats as senior advisers.

The Governor worked with Democratic majorities in the legislature to raise spending through the roof and grant huge, new pension benefits to public employees. To top it off, Schwarzenegger became America's most successful promoter of the global-warming fad. The measures that he signed into law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by raising energy prices are popular with hip Californians, but even before going into effect they are driving investment and manufacturing jobs out of the state.

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Bob
October 20th, 2016
3:10 PM
Arnold proved to be the biggest "girlie-man" of all. He went to his fainting couch after the election and never recovered his manhood. California continues it's descent towards third-world status with Governor Moonbeam. California should be used as an example of what not to do.

major
March 29th, 2010
1:03 AM
Arnold has been a great disappointment in a lot of ways. He, overtime, became a Bush/McCain Republican; one who mouths conservative principles convincingly, but invariably at the critical moments in politics caves in more convincingly. He may in the light of history have been marginally better than Gray Davis..but I doubt it. Some day History will show that America's decline from Constitutional government will have been largely capitulated by our current weak Republican Party.

Thomas Burton
March 25th, 2010
5:03 PM
In other words, Schwarzenegger has helped make California into another Britain. At least there are still some Republicans in California who know that spending and taxes are the problem and are trying to fix it. Unlike the brain-dead Tory leadership, who only care about getting back into office.

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