The most exciting thing is happening in the (formerly) Golden State! Not since the 1966 gubernatorial election of Ronald Reagan (by a margin of nearly a million votes) has there been anything to get so worked up about. I’m referring, of course, to our wonderful recall election, to get rid of the execrable Gray Davis, featuring The Terminator himself—Arnold Schwarzenegger.
A capsule history of California politics since 1930 will serve to indicate just how bad things have been, and for how long…
In 1930, James “Sunny Jim” Rolph, longtime Republican mayor of San Francisco, was elected governor. Big on personality, but incredibly light on talent, Rolph actually endorsed a 1933 jailbreak lynching in San Jose. Notorious for expanding the state sales tax to apply to many food items, he died while campaigning for reelection in 1934, and Lt. Governor Frank Merriam took over.
In 1934, Merriam had to run against famous socialist Upton Sinclair, in what was a pretty dirty rip-roaring slugfest, that included fake newsreels showing wild-eyed tramps coming to California to “launch the Sinclair revolution,” Merriam won the election, but is remembered for little else.
In 1938, the socialists would come home to roost. Merriam was defeated by Sinclair follower Culbert Olson, whose first act was to pardon labor leader Tom Mooney, jailed since 1917 for a bombing incident.
In 1942, the public, weary of ultra-leftists, and perhaps excited by the anti-Japanese rhetoric of then state attorney general Earl Warren, elected him governor, and reelected him in 1946 and 1950. Warren was appointed 14th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1953 by President Eisenhower, who later lamented his choice, calling it the worst mistake of his presidency. Regarded by some as principled, but by others (including this writer) as hardly more than a flagrant opportunist, his leaving office brought up Lt. Governor Goodwin “Goodie” Knight.
In 1954, Knight won the office in his own right, and became another liberal Republican governor, who is probably most remembered for increasing taxes, and officiating at the opening of Disneyland in 1955.
In 1958, Knight wasn’t even the Republican nominee, losing the spot to powerful Senator William F. Knowland, but neither Knight nor Knowland could have defeated the politically savvy Pat Brown, a converted Republican (because he saw how popular FDR was).
In 1962, Brown defeated Richard Nixon, in a race that spawned the “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore” speech.
In 1966, Brown, by then not much more than a stereotypical Democrat panderer, lost big to Reagan, and showed himself to be the ultimate sore loser, and patron saint of patronage. As a lame duck, he appointed 80 judges, including his ex-secretary, clemency secretary, state banking superintendent, state resources director, and three defeated legislators. He also elevated his brother, Harold Brown, from the San Francisco Municipal Court to the District Court of Appeal.
Reagan did his best to beat back the growing state bureaucracy, and survived a recall attempt in 1968. He was reelected in 1970, and staged an amazing political comeback to become the first California governor elected president.
No doubt, what California needs right now is another Ronald Reagan, instead of another liberal Republican like Schwarzenegger, but given the demographic and political realities of the moment, I’ll take Arnold. He must be doing something right, as he is already being viciously attacked by the despicable Katie Couric [read her kiss-up letter to Unabomber Ted Kaczynski], who somehow tried to paint Schwarzenegger as a Nazi sympathizer, invoking his father’s supposed membership in the party, more than 60 years ago.
The Democrats are reacting the only way they know how—either viciously like Couric, stupidly like Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante, or tribalistically like pathetic Rep. Henry Waxman, (D-Los Angeles).
Bustamante, whose name is now on the recall ballot, passed out signs to his supporters saying “Recall-NO! Bustamante-YES!” Think about it. The only way Bustamante could be elected would be with a “Recall-YES.”
It was Waxman who said, “I think the whole thing is a circus, an embarrassment for our state,” and called on Democrats to remain united behind Davis. Sorry, Henry, the only embarrassment was supporting Davis in the first place.
This is going to be lots of fun.