September 24, 2003

So ... What Did You Think? Ab...

So ... What Did You Think? About the recall debate, that is. My take, unpolluted by reading the infernal blogs (though flavored slightly by some, um, sangria):

Arnold blew it. We waited all this time for this? For some extremely rehearsed (yet still poorly executed) laugh lines, totally muddy specifics (except once or twice), and getting carved up by Arianna freakin' Huffington? I might be more sympathetic if I wasn't a California voter, but I am, and he has given me zero reason to vote for him instead of McClintock, except for his views (unarticulated tonight) on abortion, gay rights, and maybe something else I forget (which, at any rate, are unrelated to the crisis facing my state). I will not be jumping on the anyone-but-Cruz bandwagon, so unless something unexpected happens, this narcissist won't be getting my affirmation. (Really, sir, do you think I give two figs that all your friends think you're a saint for giving up your private-sector riches? Bollocks to that.)

Bustamente, who I still don't like, should give half that Indian gaming money to Arianna, for standing up and throwing down against Arnold, while the Lt. Gov just sort of rolled his eyes & breathed little murmurs of dismissive baritone condescension. It was a good two-pronged attack, and with McClintock's specificity on the relevant budget stuff, and Camejo's sympathetic (if socialistic) earnestness, made me forget for whole stretches that I'm supposed to be moved by this Austrian.

My early, half-assed prediction: McClintock rises another notch or two in the polls, Arnold stays roughly the same, and Cruz stands above them both by five points or so. If the 2002 L.A. mayoral election is any guide, Latinos will back the Latino candidate much stronger than pre-election polls indicate, so the only thing (in this thesis) that will keep Booze Crustamente from becoming the first Latino governor in a Californian century is a frenzied, last-minute anyone-but-Cruz campaign that convinces Republicans to vote against the recall.

But maybe I was influenced by my three viewing partners (two "no" votes & one ineligible foreigner; one Flynt supporter, another Camejo leaner, and a certain French girl who was disappointed by her Teutonic Old Europe cousin). What did you all think?

Posted by at September 24, 2003 11:27 PM
Comments

Too little, too late from Schwarzenegger. Nobody round here cares any more - he's spent too long hiding.

Posted by: Hoodie Craw at September 25, 2003 01:15 AM

"Arnold blew it. We waited all this time for this? For some extremely rehearsed (yet still poorly executed) laugh lines, totally muddy specifics (except once or twice), and getting carved up by Arianna freakin' Huffington?"

Don't mess with Zsa Zsa Throatstomper--mere Terminators are only grist for her mill. She can't win, but she'll leave more twisted remains in her wake than Leon Spinks driving a Hummer.

Posted by: M. Scott Eiland at September 25, 2003 02:05 AM

I didn't watch the debate and I know squat about the candidates and California politics in general. But for what it's worth, I totally agree with you, Matt.

Posted by: Scott MacMillan at September 25, 2003 05:41 AM

Personally, I was disappointed in Arnold's performance, which started off timidly and ended just solidly, as well as the debate overall, which just became a foodfight toward the end.

But I think Arnold did enough to surge ahead of Cruz, if only because Cruz did nothing, McClintock didn't attack him, Arianna made a fool of herself, and Camejo contributed about as much as Davis did. On "Hardball," a Dem strategist rated Arnold's performance a 6, at which point somebody else said, "Then everybody else must have gotten between a 1 and a 5." I'd probably go with that.

Posted by: Robert Tagorda at September 25, 2003 08:00 AM

I mostly agree regarding Arnold. His whole campaign has been a micromanaged, poll-pandering disappointment, and the debate just served to act as the final indignity. When he announced his decision to enter, I was thinking that we'd get a coherent version of Jesse Ventura, a straight-shooting, fiscally-conservative/socially liberal maverick who would clean house while breaking political taboos left and right. Instead we've gotten John McCain: The Sequel, starring a pretentious, soundbyte-spewing pseudo-populist who doesn't have it in him to denounce child abuse before first consulting his advisors. I haven't been this let down by a performance since I saw The Phantom Menace, which coincidentally is as good a title for Arnold's campaign as any.

Like you, I can't help but be sympathetic to McClintock at this point. He comes across as being far more genuine than Arnold, and unlike Arnold, his plan for dealing with the budget crisis has a lot more to it than vapid, Quimby-like bromides such as "Spending is bad!" and "Jobs are good!". He also seems serious about dealing with California's decaying public infrastructure, something that has to matter any rush-hour commuter living near one of the big cities. I don't agree with his stances on abortion and gay rights either, but it's not like we're talking about Nebraska here - there's very little that McClintock could do to push his agenda on these issues that the state legislature would sign off on. He could, however, push through a credible plan for dealing with the budget that doesn't result in skyrocketing taxes or large cuts in basic services. Which is more than Conan the Cupcake has demonstrated the ability to carry out thus far.

Posted by: Eric at September 25, 2003 09:05 AM

I think Arnold won the debate, and Arianna made a fool of herself. She probably thinks this is great publicity for her future books, but golly, I've lost all respect of her. She makes no sense at all.

McClintock. Ha. Republicans in CA thinking of voting for him are headless chickens running around aimlessly. He has no chance of winning, the reason people want to vote for him is that he's a "pure" Republican as opposed to Arnold. To those people, I saw "Enjoy Gov. Bustamante". That's all, just need to get realistic guys. He can't win.

Expect McClintock's numbers start going down, and AS picking them up. He'll quit soon, too.

As for the Dems, it's getting desperate in the Davis / Bustamante camp. I expect them to come up with more ugly irrelevant stuff from Arnold's past to scare the conservative voters. It won't work though.

Posted by: Augusto at September 25, 2003 09:13 AM

My new bandwagon ... of which I seem to be the only member so far ... Arnold should drop out.

Posted by: Howard Owens at September 25, 2003 09:33 AM

> My new bandwagon ... of which I seem to be the only member so far ... Arnold should drop out.

Another Bustamante voter!

Posted by: Augusto at September 25, 2003 09:37 AM

In order as they appeared across the TV screen:

Arnold disappointed. What once seemed to be charmingly simple logic now comes across as over-rehearsed catchphrases atop shallow intellect.

McClintock was impressive. Self-assured, with a pretty good command of facts in support of his positions. Above the fray of personal invective that tainted the others. He even managed (mostly) to contain that unsettling wide-eyed look that makes him look so unhinged sometimes. He’s way too conservative for my taste, but he’s acquitted himself very well. Rather than pushing him out in favor of Arnold, maybe the GOP should reverse the order and push the Terminator out in favor of Tom.

Camejo justified his marginalization. Earnest yes, but unable to summon facts to back his argument. There's nothing wrong with arguing that the wealthy don't pay their proportional share in taxes. But it's just plain stupid to assert that "Latinos in California pay a higher tax rate than European Americans."

Stan Statham was a joke. Like a good umpire, a good debate moderator should be in charge but invisible. Statham was neither, and seemed to be doing a bad Ted Baxter impression all night. Of course, what do you expect from a lobbyist and former back-bench Assembly Republican whose 18-years in office were highlighted by a failed campaign to split California into two or three states? Only in California would we choose a freakin’ lobbyist to “moderate” a campaign debate. We could have used a real moderator. My choice would have been Dan Weintraub.

Arianna was Arianna. Quick with the one-line putdown, and a very sharp needler. That’s entertaining on the combat chat circuit, where you don’t need to believe it if you say it faster and louder and wittier than everyone else. But it doesn’t qualify her to be governor. I agree with Eiland – she doesn’t have a prayer of winning, but she’s gonna leave some bodies in her wake.

Bustamante was uninspiring. Lacking in charisma and leadership. Weak on defense when they attacked him as a surrogate for the failed leadership of the Democratic Legislature and t for Bill Maher, who opposes the recall), he did have to deal with her personal attacks, disruption, and rudeness somehow.

One smart thing Arnie did was to refrain from bashing McClintock, which would have alienated the Kool-Aid Konservatives.

Arnie won, Davis lost.

Posted by: Richard Bennett at September 25, 2003 11:32 AM

Arnie picks up Bill Simon support now.

> which would have alienated the Kool-Aid Konservatives.

Great phrase! I shall use it in all my future postings!!!

Posted by: Augusto at September 25, 2003 11:53 AM

Lloyd -- I thought the moderator was hilarious. He quite obviously took a few tugs on his flask during the Kevin Shelley infomercial; by the end he was openly slurring, and stifling belches. Terrific work.

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 25, 2003 11:59 AM

What's the name of that guy running who's the cocreator of the "Bumfights" video? I bet he'd have some interesting solutions to the homeless problem.

Haven't watched the debate yet, as my job keeps me out in the evenings, but someone on Roger's site pointed me to cspan.org, so more relevant comments soon.

Posted by: LYT at September 25, 2003 12:05 PM

McClintock is about where Jesse Ventura was in the polls two weeks out in 1998; Howard Owens may be right to suggest that he's not the Republican who should be withdrawing. Ahnold lost by allowing himself to be henpecked by Arianna, then making that stupid toilet joke about Terminator 4. The best thing Cruz has going for him is that he's dull, which voters equate with sincerity. It also neutralizes any of the latent racism that some voters might have about voting for a Latino candidate for governor.

Posted by: Steve Smith at September 25, 2003 12:09 PM

> then making that stupid toilet joke about Terminator 4.

He didn't make a stupid toilet joke, he implied she could be the next Terminatrix in 4. The toilet stuff is made up, to come up with a non-issue.

Posted by: Augusto at September 25, 2003 12:11 PM

> McClintock is about where Jesse Ventura was in the polls two weeks out in 1998; Howard Owens may be right to suggest that he's not the Republican who should be withdrawing.

Yeah right. Again, Republican in CA are suicidal, that's why they always lose.

I have to admit, that it's very amusing when political parties self destrcut like this, you can't say they haven't been warned.

Posted by: Augusto at September 25, 2003 12:13 PM

My thoughts on the debate are way too long to post in a comment, but the short of it is McClintock did slightly better than Arnold, but no matter. Given the lop-sided poll numbers going into the debate, this one was Arnold's to lose, and he didn't.

Posted by: Xrlq at September 25, 2003 12:37 PM

I got too irritated by the whole thing a few minutes into it, and gave up. But the episode of "The A-Team" on KDOC was magnificent.

Posted by: Emily at September 25, 2003 03:43 PM

I enjoyed Arnold's jokes, but he talked over the other candidates too often. McClintock covered for Arnold nicely at least once in the beginning, both avoided taking shots at the other. Bustamente was the surprise for me: I had assumed that I would despise the guy as much as I did Camejo, but he seemed harmless enough that I can consider voting for McClintock without caring too much that Bustamente might win.

Posted by: Greg Hamer at September 25, 2003 03:47 PM

Getting "carved up by Arianna Huffington" ???

Huffington acquits herself through condescendingly glib and sanctimonious histrionics and/or rhetoric.

Such is which passes for intellect among Oxbridge debating societies (where, after all, Huffington honed her skill, now intensified through purely scum-bag class-envy rhetoric). Here one gets to show off how oh so clever one is, employing the ever smug, glib repartee. But such forum is always nurturing of the most rank variety of sophist*. And being a sophist has _nothing_ to do with right (I'm talking about justice, right and wrong). Maybe you're impressed by it. But it's also, point of fact, a wonderful disgumagogue.

Sorry to see that you _seem_, correct me if I'm wrong, apt to fall for her (and especially for the ever vile Camejo's) emotionally-laden, Horatio-Alger-cum-Marxian curve-balls.


* And of course by sophist (sophia, wisdom, knowledge, in fact, what we today call science) I mean in the more specific, ancient -- er, not so Greek gold-digger -- undertstanding of the word.

Sophist being the label for those who, ala "The Meathead" (Archie Bunker's intellectual son-in-law), think they can show they're smarter, more clever than the nomos piety. (Nomos being Greek for "law"; law which is outside the human; nomos is usually translated as "convention"; but no Greek -- or for that matter no Zulu, Aztec, or ancient Hebrew -- saw his tribe's/city's "divine nomos"/law as anything other than self-evident rational insight, with nothing the slightest conventional about it. Nomos only comes to light in contradistinction to the discovery of nature, physis, that which comes about through growth, generation and not through making, art {artifice, artificial}. Man-the-maker is the maker of many things with which to fill his world; but he has a nature which comes to sight as part of nature of which he is not the "maker"); i.e. that "the meat-head" can prove himself above, superior, more refined, more "with-it" than what is seen otherwise as the local custom, prejudice; i.e. of winning the _reputation_, the esteem (vanity), for being "wise." But alas they could be easily exposed for not at all occupying any such wisdom. Sophistry in fact has nothing to do with knowing right from wrong, with being truly wise, of truly knowing what the fuck one is talking about. One is only a "wise guy." (Of course, that's exactly the way Socrates appeared to the Athenians, and why they gave him the Hemlock).

If there isn't a right (justice) according to nature, then everything Huffington stands for is pure malarkey and is by necessity every bit redolent of _opinion_ and does not get an exemption from the very same prejudice she ascribes to others.

Posted by: Robert at September 25, 2003 09:46 PM

Robert -- She carved him up by the simple virtue of goading him into an increasingly stupid tit-for-tat. She'll doubtlessly come out of this with the highest negatives, and she certainly earned them, but *regardless of the soundness of her arguments* she made him fight on her terms, which is a tremendous victory for a fringe candidate, and (in my view) a totally pointless loss for him. See this afternoon's Kaus for more on same. Sophists and demagogues, especially unpopular ones, are eminently easy to dissect and/or dismiss. Arnold failed to do either.

And yes, you're wrong: I, unlike untold thousands of conservatives, have not and will not ever "fall" for Arianna.

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 25, 2003 10:24 PM

Matt -- she didn't "carve him up." She did so only in terms of formality (form), not substance. Her arguments, if not horrifying, can be revealed by anyone with decent grounding in sound _libertarian_ economics (and improved, to be sure, with sound "conservative" natural right political philosophy!) to be thoroughly wanting, if not thoroughly stupid* -- and they are so quite indepentently of who and what sort of scumbag she is. They are found wanting and can be considered stupid, essentially, because they are emotivejack-ass worship.

Unfortunately the disease of jack-ass worship reaches epidemic proportions and reflect the thinking of a substantial segment of the California voting block (this, thanks to political, politicized indoctrination earned at the knee of multiculturalists in our universities and schools of "education.") And she's a clever, sophisticated (yes, I do mean sophist, from which "sophisticated" is, surprisingly, compounded) expositor and point-woman for these views, and is so even despite her tenuous margin of support/"following" (i.e. her views are fundamentally indistinguishable from those of Cruz-Camejo). So, her arguments must be answered if Arnold, or anyone else, is to not be ideologically bulldozed. They must be if Arnold is to appear assiduous and, most importantly, to appear as someone who is going to be a fighter for the views of his political base. An attack unanswered is an attack acknowledged, conceded to. It would be different if Arianna's _catechizing_ rhetoric were prima facie horseshit. But, like I said, it ain't. Independently of the demagogue and obvious sophist she is, her attacks are not stupid or trivial, this insofar as they on the whole represent the thinking of a substantial segment of the populace. And they substantially reflect the thinking of what is otherwise a sophisticated lot, the "eminence grise" arbiters of culture: The media, the university professoriat and government functionaries (one out of every seven people in the State of California works for the State government). Some of the squabbling between Arianna and Arnold was total malarkey, yes, point taken. But much of it emphatically was not.

You may not like Arnold (or for that matter Arianna) personally. His native heath, after all, is that country of eight million people whom you categorically dismiss and revile (and how exactly does that square with your elsewhere professions of "tolerance" and "diversity"?). But that's a different matter. I am actually more interested in the argument separated from the individual, from who espouses it (something it surpises even me to say, given my vituperations about Arianna Huffington's existence). I'm not all that much wrapped up in -- er, well -- motivations, motives.

The content of much of the dispute -- the animating thought behind their often seeming bluster -- is anything but trivial "tit-for-tat."

You write: "Sophists and demagogues, especially unpopular ones, are eminently easy to dissect and/or dismiss."

Wrong (most especially wrong about demagogues). That's why they are demagogues. They have huge or at least substantial followings. Without that they cease to be demagogues. Without the ability to arouse the people's baser passions, passions of ressentiment (French version of "resentment" Nietzsche's favorite word) -- which is, after all, what a demagogue is -- they can never rise above being pencil-dick imbeciles and hacks.

Some conservatives are on record to have always seen Huffington (and her former Husband), if not with scrutinizing reservation and suspicion, then with avowed dismissal as something of a Tammy-Fae Bakker of sleaze politics.

----

* Which has me thinking a great Heine quote: "Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid" --Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) incredible wag, poet and essayist.

Posted by: Robert at September 26, 2003 04:39 AM

Robert, I love ya buddy. You sure you're a Dem? Personally I'd like to resuscitate Ahnuld's Nazi dad and Arianna's partisan commie mom and put THEM in a room together! Ya think that might explain La Arianna's Ahnuld fixation?

Posted by: Lloyd at September 26, 2003 10:38 AM

Cruz is a big fat faggot. Arnold's a suckass. I'd give Arianna some hot n' nasty.

Posted by: Stun gun Chun King at September 28, 2003 12:36 AM

McClintock did seem to command the thing better than anyone else...whether that's about "having the facts" or having a convincing facsimile...not so sure. His abortion and gay rights views aren't really a sticking point for me, because I can't see him having a lasting impact in either case. The anti-immigrant stuff is a sticking point for me. I think probably I favored Uberoth's position of "making" the federal government enforce the border, but granting services to illegals already here. McClintock, I guess, thinks that the costs of the incentive to hop the border created by granting kids access to health-care, school, and whatnot, are greater than the costs of potentially creating a (more) permanent mexican underclass etc. I'm not so sure about that, and anyway I think the costs would have to be really really greater to justify his view, otherwise...refuse education because their parents hopped the border? Pretty shitty, imo. ...so many folks who don't fix any upper limit on the cost of humanitarianism in Iraq become so ruthlessly "pragmatic" when it comes to the, I guess comparatively boring, humanitarian project of sending mexican kids to school in CA. I don't understand that way of slicing it. Ramble. I agree though that McClintock presented better than anyone else in the debate...although I also thought that Camejo came off basically clear and honest about what he wanted, which, whatever else, at least has some value in itself.

Posted by: spacetoast at September 29, 2003 10:46 AM
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ncredible wag, poet and essayist.

Posted by: Robert at September 26, 2003 04:39 AM

Robert, I love ya buddy. You sure you're a Dem? Personally I'd like to resuscitate Ahnuld's Nazi dad and Arianna's partisan commie mom and put THEM in a room together! Ya think that might explain La Arianna's Ahnuld fixation?

Posted by: Lloyd at September 26, 2003 10:38 AM

Cruz is a big fat faggot. Arnold's a suckass. I'd give Arianna some hot n' nasty.

Posted by: Stun gun Chun King at September 28, 2003 12:36 AM

McClintock did seem to command the thing better than anyone else...whether that's about "having the facts" or having a convincing facsimile...not so sure. His abortion and gay rights views aren't really a sticking point for me, because I can't see him having a lasting impact in either case. The anti-immigrant stuff is a sticking point for me. I think probably I favored Uberoth's position of "making" the federal government enforce the border, but granting services to illegals already here. McClintock, I guess, thinks that the costs of the incentive to hop the border created by granting kids access to health-care, school, and whatnot, are greater than the costs of potentially creating a (more) permanent mexican underclass etc. I'm not so sure about that, and anyway I think the costs would have to be really really greater to justify his view, otherwise...refuse education because their parents hopped the border? Pretty shitty, imo. ...so many folks who don't fix any upper limit on the cost of humanitarianism in Iraq become so ruthlessly "pragmatic" when it comes to the, I guess comparatively boring, humanitarian project of sending mexican kids to school in CA. I don't understand that way of slicing it. Ramble. I agree though that McClintock presented better than anyone else in the debate...although I also thought that Camejo came off basically clear and honest about what he wanted, which, whatever else, at least has some value in itself.

Posted by: spacetoast at September 29, 2003 10:46 AM
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