Want another way, other than Bush’s rock-bottom poll numbers, to measure the depth of the Republican crisis?
Take a look at what happened late Wednesday night out here in California. Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s centerpiece proposal for re-election went down in smoking flames — mostly because of Republican opposition.
During his January State of the State address, Arnold had proposed an FDR-scale $222 billion plan for the rebuilding of California’s infrastructure. The ambitious and popular plan, the most massive in state history, which would have built new roads, levees, schools, bike and foot paths, parks and rail lines was a shrewd political move to the center by a governor whose previous set of conservative "reform" proposals were shredded last fall in a special election.
While the past few weeks had seen furious off-and-on negotiations between the Governor and the legislature’s majority Democrats to put an infrastructure agreement on the June ballot, Schwarzenegger never did get his own party on board.
Actually, that’s a gross understatement. To get the 2/3 majority vote he needed to succeed, the Republican Governor only had to secure the support of two GOP state senators and only six GOP assembly members. Democrats were ready to support a deal.
But the governor failed to deliver his own party. As the clock ticked toward a midnight deadline last night, the legislature hung Arnold out to dry and purposefully reached no agreement. It’s possible that some future and vastly trimmed-down deal will be struck. But for the moment, the governor has been stranded with virtually nothing left to run on in his November re-election quest.
The whole episode raises serious questions about what, if any, strategic sense California Republicans have. Already a big underdog party in a very blue California, the only thing Republicans had going for them was the movie star governor.
But ideological dogma has, apparently, gotten in the way of realpolitik. California’s Republican legislators have succumbed to their chronic taxaphobia and have seriously jeopardized, if not torpedoed, their own governor’s chance of re-election.
Former Sacramento-based Democratic political consultant Bill Bradley is all over the developing story. Bradley says the whole affair reveals what a "rookie" Schwarzenegger still is after nearly three years in office. A rookie who now might be headed right for the showers.