California Recall Election

I surprised myself by voting No on the recall. I've been supporting the recall for months. I have no faith in Gray Davis's ability to lead. When bad stuff happens, he seems to search for reasons that it's someone else's doing, rather than searching for ways to resolve the problems. It happened with the electricity problems a few years ago. It happened with the California budget last year and this year. It happened with the recall itself. I want a governor who believes he can do something useful.

I was hoping Arnold could be that governor. He talked a good game about his leadership. I kept waiting for substance; none came. I was very disappointed in his performance in the one debate in which he participated. Lots of energy and intention, but no specifics. And he was too eager to take Huffington's bait. Looked like a lovers' spat.

McClintock, on the other hand, was full of ideas. I like some of his ideas, especially his ideas about how to address the budget problems. On the other hand, his social policies scare me. I made the assumption that he would be able to implement some of his financial plans, but not his social ones. I made this assumption well aware that, several years ago, I thought Bush, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft could do little harm. Clearly I can be very, very wrong about these things. But that's how I was leaning.

So after the debate, I was prepared to vote Yes on the recall, and McClintock to replace Davis.

Maria Shriver gave a very uplifting speech on Friday, listing ten qualities that California voters need to know about Arnold. She said he was bold, decisive, and fiercely goal-driven. That nearly swayed me. Right about now, I'll take a governor who is bold, decisive, and goal-driven, even if I don't know his specific plans, as long as I believe his heart is in the right place. I wasn't quite convinced to vote for him, but I entertained the possibility that he just might do a good job.

But I lost that, too. As I said, I was disappointed in Arnold's performance at the debate. Over the past week, I've become disturbed about the way he has treated women. I wondered how he would work with women if he were to become Governor, and whether women would be eager to work with him.

First disappointed, then disturbed. Then the clincher. On Sunday, on ABC's "This Week," Arnold said:

"No one ever came to me in my life and said to me that I did anything, that said 'I don't want you to do that. You went over the line, Arnold.'"

I take this to mean that Arnold has no idea where the line is. I can't tell whether he accepts that there is a line. This is beyond disturbing. This is bad news.

And in that statement, I'm hearing a hint of "If nobody tells me, there's nothing I can do" It's that nothing I can do attitude that blew my faith in Gray Davis. If Arnold can take that attitude about his own actions, I worry about his willingness to take responsibility.

So in the past few days, I changed my mind. I've come to believe that Arnold is capable of doing more harm than Davis. So I voted No on the recall.

As of 5:55 PM, it looks as if Arnold will win by a wide margin. Let's hope I'm wrong about how he will govern.

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