California conservatives know that the unexpectedly convincing victory of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the October 7 recall race cannot possibly result in any serious changes in the governance of this increasingly nutty state, yet most people I talk to are quietly pleased at the turn of events. This is not naiveté but the result of reduced expectations.
Schwarzenegger is an unknown commodity, politically speaking. Occasionally, he makes a valid point, such as when he talks about the state’s warped business climate, calls for a reduction in the recently tripled car tax, or demands the repeal of a law that grants driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
Most of the time, however, he sounds like a standard-issue liberal Republican. He shares a faith in government programs with most Democrats, but he does not want to drive out of state the businesses and entrepreneurs who pay the taxes that fund the programs. His solution to illegal immigration is basically to legalize those who are here illegally. Unlike former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, who failed in his 2002 primary bid to take on Gov. Gray Davis, Schwarzenegger was smart enough not to attack conservatives directly.
The Republican Party apparatus fell in line behind Schwarz-enegger, arguing that the real conservative in the race, State Sen. Tom McClintock, didn’t have the money or broad-based appeal...