Thursday, October 09, 2003

Mickey Kaus explains on Slate why he voted for Arnold. (Gotta scroll down, but it's worth it.) Great stuff.

I've set foot in California only twice in my life, but here's why I think Arnold's election is a great thing.

First, you have to understand how and why the Republican Party is (as somebody said about the Pope recently) "in a bad way." It's not that it's about to die like the Pope is -- indeed, that's precisely the point -- but that there's a weird sickness at the heart of the Party that's not going anywhere on its own. It's not just Sen. Rick Santorum's comments about homosexuality, or the fact that Bush later called Santorum, the third-ranking person in the U.S. Senate, a "tolerant person." It's the whole sick mess of Ashcroft-style social conservatism and ideological rigidity. It's the inflexible, self-congratulatory stridency of a right-wing mindset that hears only what it wants to hear.

Granted, you've got to ask yourself what kind of person joins a club that would have Rick Santorum as a member. But this definitely isn't my parents' or grandparents' brand of what I'd prefer to call "New England Republicanism."

There are two optimal solutions:

1. Let the patient die, or just kill it. In other words, hope the Republicans go the way of the Whigs. Sorry, much as I'd love to see it, it's just not going to happen anytime soon. The party itself, and that institution oddly known as American "conservatism," is here to stay.

2. Try to cure the disease. Schwarzenegger -- prominent, vocal, moderate, flexible, pragmatic, socially liberal, pro-gay-rights, and most imporantly, in need of zero support from the Party itself -- could be such a remedy. For chrissake, he's married to a Kennedy! And his wife will likely act as one of his key advisers. There's already talk about bringing in some heavyweight lefties to give the Schwarzenegger team a bi-partisan flair.

I look forward to the day when hard-core Republicans ideologues are asking, as they have of another Party member who dares to walk a centrist line, Sen. John McCain: "Why is the hell is this guy a Republican?" Schwarzenegger has the popularity and name recognition to weather that kind of criticism.

Let's face it: Arnold's a liberal Trojan horse in the Republican fortress. Bwahahaha!


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