Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 28, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

CALIFORNIA'S NAPOLEON....After being forced through the humiliating process of actually having to compromise with the legislature in order to get a budget passed, the Governator is pissed:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is preparing an assault on the institutional power of California legislators after a month of contorted state budget negotiations in which his clout was questioned and his ideas were rejected.

The Republican governor may call a special election next year asking voters to, among other things, convert the Legislature to part-time status, strip legislators of their power to draw their own districts and restrict campaign contributions, his spokesman said Tuesday.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman said this month's contentious budget negotiations hardened the governor's resolve to move forward with all or part of this plan....

In substantive terms this is laughable, since as near as I can tell the budget deadlock was almost entirely Schwarzenegger's fault. He screwed up his negotiations with local governments and had to backpedal, and then went to the mat over two trivial items that no one would even have noticed if he hadn't suddenly brought them up out of the blue.

More to the point, though, I can't help but think that he's finally overreaching anyway. After winning the election, winning his bond measure, and enjoying sky high popularity ratings, he may think California is ready to crown him king. I doubt it, though, and if he goes through with this my guess is that it will just make him look like a power mad Napoleon who throws a tantrum when he doesn't get his way. As a historical parallel, I'm reminded of FDR's court packing scheme after his landslide win in 1936. That didn't work out so well.

Of course, as the story notes, these threats may be nothing but leverage for use in future negotiations with the legislature, which wouldn't be out of character for him. Stay tuned.

Kevin Drum 12:21 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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