29th February 04:19
Make the recall count - Republicans are running it as a shell game to distract from their misdeeds -- don't play along
'Make the recall count'
Republicans are running it as a shell game to distract from their misdeeds --
don't play along
By Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times
"Take him, he's yours."
That was my initial response to the California recall, aimed at a conservative
Democratic governor who often has betrayed the state's large progressive base of
voters — the same folks who held their noses to elect and then reelect him.
But now I don't buy it. However you feel about Gray Davis, the fact is, this
recall has become a shell game, led and paid for by Republicans, that
conveniently distracts from the alarming failures and frauds of the White House.
That includes the Bush administration's blind eye to the energy sting that
robbed the California government of a good chunk of its past budget surplus.
The giddy media spectacle of **** stars and action heroes seeking to lead the
world's sixth-largest economy should not divert us from the fact that the key
black marks on Davis' resume — the energy crisis and the budget shortfall — were
both messes created by deregulating, tax-cutting Republicans. In dealing with
both, Davis has not pulled any rabbits out of his hat, but he has been a
competent leader who minimized the damage. The red ink in California is a mere
needle prick compared with the hemorrhaging of trillions in future debt thanks
to President Bush's tax cuts for the rich, the invasion of Iraq and other
In fact, despite the hysteria, California's current problems are no more serious
than that of many states, including New York and Texas, both run by Republican
governors. The underlying problem for all states is a national economy brought
to its knees by the epic fall of a panoply of corrupt companies, firms like
Enron that used the Republican mantra of deregulation as a convenient cover for
looting consumers, stockholders and employees. It is true that California has
paid a particularly heavy price for the machinations of Enron and other energy
How dare Arnold Schwarzenegger or any Republican now ignore the well-do***ented
gaming of the California energy market by Bush's Texas cronies, many of whom
landed high posts in his administration? Was Davis responsible for manufacturing
spikes in energy prices that nearly bankrupted the state? Of course not — but he
took the political hit when the lights went out. It's a safe bet that
Schwarzenegger and the other Republicans running will offer not a word of
criticism of Vice President **** Cheney's infamous meetings with top energy
executives that excluded consumer representatives. The minutes of those meetings
are still secret, yet we know that the policy that emerged benefited the con
artists who caused California's energy crisis in the first place.
Nor will the Republicans who bought this recall delve into the role of the
Bush-dominated Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. That's the agency that
failed in its obligation to bring the energy pirates to heel and force them to
properly compensate California for creating artificial shortages.
Davis failed in paying too much to get the lights back on, but I dare any of the
Republican candidates for his job to step forward and tell us that they would
not have bailed out PG&E and Southern California Edison. They will not because
they have no real solutions to the energy problems or any other problems the
state faces. Certainly they will not curtail the heavy influences of the prison
guards and other law enforcement unions that are milking the state budget and
that form Davis' most reliable base of support. Clearly Davis' fundraising is
obscenely obsessive, but it's minor compared with Bush's nonstop money machine.
Were the Republicans not hypocrites, they would applaud Davis for implementing
so much of their pro-big-business and harsh law-and-order agenda. Like other
conservative Democrats, Davis wanted to appear tough, but a party led by
poll-watching chameleons will always make for an easy target.
Ironically, Schwarzenegger is as "liberal" as Davis on the hot-button issues of
abortion, gun control and *** rights. And can anyone suggest that Hollywood bon
vivant Schwarzenegger better typifies Christian values than squeaky-clean Davis
— a decorated officer in Vietnam when his peers were demonstrating in the
streets, a guy who has never been known to indulge a moment of decadent
pleasure? Didn't the puritans of the right squirm just a bit when their new
candidate told Jay Leno that the toughest decision in his life prior to
announcing his candidacy was whether or not to have a bikini wax?
Suddenly the Republicans care not a whit about those social values they have
been prattling about, or anything else but defeating a prominent Democrat. They
brook no opposition, even from a conservative Democrat; their goal is a
If you think politics is all a joke anyway, then vote for whichever opportunist
makes you laugh the most. But if you think that meaningful representative
democracy requires the scrutiny of the serious primary and election process that
Davis has twice weathered, then for a small "d" democrat, a "no" vote on the
recall is an obligation.
Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times
Reprinted from The Los Angeles Times: