The gov says Rob Reiner is "innocent until proven guility." In a courtroom, perhaps. But is that the standard to use for a political opponent running a commission that is spending hundreds of millions of dollars per year, and spending much of that money on dubious advertising campaigns that use tax dollars to promote changes in public policy? I still think that there is more to the story of why Schwarzenegger won't fire Reiner. I suspect they or their staffs cut a deal: Reiner could stay on the commission as long as he didn't use the job as a platform to run against Arnold for governor. That would certainly explain why the gov has not moved to kick Reiner off the commission, despite Reiner's obviously flawed judgment and Republican calls for his ouster.
Posted by dweintraub at 11:52 AM
Is telling the truth now a fatal flaw for a politician?
My Tuesday column noting that the Demo candidates for governor were ignoring the state's most pressing problem -- the government's fiscal mess -- prompted a friendly exchange with a former political writer who complained that I was naiive to think that candidates for the state's highest office might be honest with the voters about how bad things are. Telling the truth -- that fixing things will require either a slowdown in spending growth or an increase in taxes -- would surely cost them the election, my friend said. He implied that I was either crazy or stupid to expect them to venture into such risky territory.
I'm not convinced. San Diego's new mayor, Jerry Sanders, was elected last year after a campaign in which he made it very clear that the city was going to have to lay off workers and cut services in order to get its finances back in order. The new governor of Virginia is stumping for a gas tax hike at the moment that his recent campaign clearly foreshadowed. And given the popularity of the "Bush lied" theme with Democrats, and the troubles Gov. Schwarzenegger got into when he broke a funding promise to the schools, this would seem like the perfect time to be coming clean with the electorate.
And I would even settle for a less than complete plan if one of the candidates would simply be willing to accurately describe the dimensions of the problem and the scope of the choices ahead, and stop promising or proposing things that would only make the problem worse.
Would a Democratic candidate for governor really be shooting himself in the foot by looking into the camera and saying something like this?
"Arnold Schwarzenegger hasn't leveled with you. I will. California's finances are in deep trouble. Fixing them is not going to be easy, and it's going to mean a lot of pain for all of us. I can't tell you today exactly what the solution is going to be, because as governor, I would have to hammer out the details with the Legislature. But I do know it's going to be difficult. It will take rich and poor alike coming together in shared sacrifice to get our state government back on track. We can't keep adding new programs that we have no way of paying for. And we can't sustain recent tax cuts if we're not also willing to give up the services that were provided with that revenue. That's the truth. I just thought it was time you heard it."
Posted by dweintraub at 7:09 AM