Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Washington today, and the difference between the two coasts, he'll find, is a good deal greater than that between fire and rain.
In California, the governor-elect is hailed as the Republicans' Great White (or, through the miracle of modern tanning, Orange) Hope. The first Republican gubernatorial candidate to proclaim himself pro-choice, anti-assault weapon and anti-homophobic, Schwarzenegger exhibited a crossover appeal that the GOP hadn't seen since Ronald Reagan invented the Reagan Democrats.
In the spirit of Bertolt Brecht's maxim that an unpopular government would do well to elect a new people, Wesley Clark and Joe Lieberman have opted to bypass the Iowa primary. In Lieberman's case, this is probably a misdiagnosis: The Connecticut senator's problems may be less with Iowans than with Democrats, many of whom remain unswayed by the one candidate in the Democratic field whom they view as Bush-lite.
Ever worry that millions of your fellow Americans are walking around knowing things that you don't? That your prospects for advancement may depend on your mastery of such arcana as who won the Iraqi war or where exactly Europe is?
Then don't watch Fox News. The more you watch, the more you'll get things wrong.
According to many political observers, largely but not entirely on the right, the recall of Democrat Gray Davis and the election of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger mark a tectonic shift in California's political makeup. Over the past decade, as Latinos have voted in greater numbers and independents have trended Democratic, California has become just about the most reliably Democratic state in the nation. Since Davis became governor, at the prodding of a liberal-dominated legislature, he's signed landmark legislation establishing the state as a progressive beacon in a reactionary time.
LOS ANGELES -- In the end it came down to touching. No, not Governor Arnold's three decades of alleged sexual harassment; that seemed of little moment to California voters. The touching problem in this election was all Gray Davis'.
"You've got to touch people, relate to them, tell them what you care about," one Democratic politico told me at Davis' sparsely attended election eve rally in Los Angeles. "Gray's never been able to do that."
Davis, in fact, has long been just about the unhappiest warrior on the American political battlefield. The normal business of politics -- negotiating with legislators, enunciating his principles, building support for his programs -- repelled him.