Thursday, April 15, 2010

California status update

How is the Golden State looking politically these days? Well, evidently the race to replace Barbara Boxer is getting closer, unbelievably, with Carly Fiorina pulling closer to Tom Campbell. I guess the notion that Campbell is moderate (which isn't true, though he is neither insane nor intransigent) is leading to a Fiorina surge.

My take is that Campbell is the only moderately threatening person in this race to Barbara Boxer, even though I wouldn't give Campbell more than 4:1 odds of actually winning. He is generally pretty libertarian on social and economic issues, which is not a terrible fit for a state that has a hidden streak of fiscal conservatism. In normal times he wouldn't have a chance, but with the economy being worse in California than the rest of the country a Scott Brown moment isn't completely impossible. Then again, Boxer isn't as dumb as Martha Coakley, Campbell isn't as charismatic as Scott Brown, etc., but it's not impossible if all the planets were to align in such a way...

Fiorina, however, is a joke. The Demon Sheep ad that everyone knows is pretty much indicative of her entire career in politics and business. I used to live right next to HP HQ, so I know quite well how she nearly drove her company into the ground back in the day. Her stint flacking for John McCain in 2008 was nearly as bad. She's already been something of a trainwreck as a candidate and would not pose a serious challenge to Boxer. Unlike Campbell, she's running as a traditional, Reagan style fiscal and social conservative to appeal to the hard-right GOP base in the state (for whom time stopped in 1989, more or less). That's not going to play in a state where 3/4 of the public (including almost half of Republicans) self-identify as pro-choice. And option #3, Chuck DeVore, is a DeMintite who mostly resembles the hapless losers the GOP runs against Dianne Feinstein every time she's up when they don't expect a serious contest.

Campbell is the most interesting and unorthodox of the Republicans running for the nomination, and he's definitely the most talented and intelligent. Ultimately, though, Campbell lives in the real world instead of the Supply-Side Neocon Land that most Republicans occupy, which has prompted him to occasionally acknowledge that Israel has made some errors in judgment over the past few years, and to sometimes cut budget deals with Democrats in the legislature. My sense is that conservatives don't much care for Carly, but that Campbell is rapidly becoming an unacceptable choice for Republicans (in other words, he's getting Scozzafavaed). He's also associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger and his within-the-margin-of-error approval ratings, which can't help.

As for the governor's race, I'm intrigued that Meg Whitman has taken a small lead over Jerry Brown. I've seen her ads on TV, and they've not been terrible. But I do wonder if she'll be able to pull it off. I'm not a huge fan of Brown, and I would consider voting for Whitman if she were to propose fixing the proposition process and the 2/3 budget vote requirement. Of course she won't do these things, but ultimately voting for Meg Whitman or Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor is sort of like voting for an independent candidate for president. These people have no real base--CA Republicans hate Schwarzenegger because he's moderate--so they can't ever really get anything done. I'm not that wild about California Democrats (with some exceptions), but it sure makes more sense to vote for people who might have the means to accomplish something.

The irony of all this might be that Whitman could be saved by heavy voting by downballot Republican voters who want the Republicans to retake Congress.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.