Michael Hiltzik rubs his eyes at the replacement of Arnold Schwarzenegger by a left-wing pod person:
Golden State: Who Are You, And What Have You Done with Gov. Schwarzenegger? : The alien life form that took to a Sacramento podium Thursday evening in an Arnold Schwarzenegger suit made the sort of modest moves toward political sanity that had eluded the real-life governor for two years. Through sleight of hand at some point during the state of the state address, the E.T. returned the mike to the genuine article, so the transformation wasn't complete... the New Arnold, like the Old one, doesn't have a discernable political philosophy, [but] one must say that a governor who abjures picking fights with working persons and who recognizes the virtue of improving access to the state university and colleges to all, giving some of the worst-paid workers in the state a bit of a hand, and looking ahead to rebuilding infrastructure is preferable to the snarling lout of yore.
It's beyond question that Schwarzenegger's change in attitude has borne immediate benefits. For one thing, it provoked Hugh Hewitt, a man profoundly in love with the sound of his own voice, momentarily to put a sock in it.... Hewitt... ceded the tooth-gnashing duties to one Carol Platt Liebau, who evidently harbors a deep-seated distaste for improved roads, schools, hospitals, public safety, etc.... The governor's new program is still full of the inevitable contradictions that arise when one proposes a huge increase in spending but no increase in revenues. When his mention of $70 billion in infrastructure borrowing was followed instantly by the cavil, "we can do it without raising taxes," math majors all over the state gave their pocket calculators a sharp rap, because numbers in the real world don't support that kind of pledge.
There were a few other jarring notes in the speech. The governor came out in favor of an increase in the minimum wage, similar if not identical to proposals he has vetoed twice.... For all his railing against "autopilot" spending, a theme he continued this year, he still didn't address one of the most prominent autopilot measures of recent years--the Proposition 49 after-school program, which will kick in this year as a permanent drain on the budget of $428 million a year or more. This measure was, of course, placed on the ballot and muscled to enactment by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He still hasn't come to grips with the contradiction.
Then there's prescription drugs, the reimportation of which from Canada he now evidently supports. So, one wonders, why did he veto a package of bills last year to do exactly that? And why did he allow, by his own inaction, two prescription drug plans to wind up on the special election ballot, inspiring Big Pharma to spend $100 million to, er, educate the electorate?
The bottom line is that there's as yet no good evidence that this Arnold Schwarzenegger is the genuine article, or that his pledges and proposals for the future are worth taking seriously. Still, at least this time around he's talking the talk. There's no use pretending that an Arnold Schwarzenegger making nice to everybody won't be a tough candidate to beat for reelection, assuming he stays in the race. I'm not convinced he's in it for the long haul, but it seems more like it now than it did six months ago. Possibly he'll turn into a good governor after all.