Arnold Schwarzeneggar is governor-elect of California this morning because he learned the art of the apology. Confronted with the fact that he had said some stupid stuff about Hitler as a young man and that he had indulged in foul behavior with unwilling women, he didn’t pull the usual duck-and-cover maneuvers that normal politicians use. He admitted it, apologized for it, and did so–brilliantly, in my view–in front of a friendly crowd, at one of his rallies. Imagine if Bill Clinton had said, “Yeah, I had sex with Monica Lewinsky. She’s da bomb and I love her and we’re moving in together as soon as my divorce from Hillary comes through!”? We would’ve loved him for it–and he wouldn’t have faced the impeachment that he richly deserved.
On a serious note, I doubt that Arnold will be able to govern California any more effectively than Jesse Ventura did in Minnesota. Although the national Republican Party has gotten behind him in the final hour, Arnold remains an outsider at odds with the hard-right tenor of the state’s GOP leadership, and he’s dealing with a disciplined Democratic-controlled legislature in Sacramento. He’s going to need to close that $8 billion budget gap somehow–make that $12 billion if he repeals the car tax–and it’s hard to imagine where he’ll find the money without soaking the rich with a big income tax hike. I almost feel sorry for the guy…and sorrier for the long-suffering people of California, who’ll continue to make do with failing schools and infrastructure because of Proposition 13.