Talk about being up a creek without a paddle. That's where California Democrats find themselves today, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein's announcement that no way, no how, will she put her name on the ballot as a possible replacement for Gov. Gray Davis.
Feinstein's decision is understandable. She deplores the recall process and wants nothing to do with it. She enjoys a powerful position as senior senator from California. She'd rather shape U.S. foreign policy than tackle California's $38-billion debt. Who wouldn't? But her withdrawal from consideration is still a body blow to Democrats who want to beat the recall.
Think about it. The Feinstein scenario would have been perfect, giving Californians the best of both worlds. They could reject what's no more than a blatant Republican attempt to hijack the state by first voting no on recalling Davis, but then they'd have an insurance policy. Just in case the recall succeeded, they'd also have the option of voting for the strongest, most qualified person to become the next governor. No doubt, Feinstein would have won, hands down.
With Feinstein out of the race, there's only one way to go: Some other big-name Democrat must step up to the plate. All the more so, now that Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger has joined the fray. This strategy, of course, runs counter to the official Democratic Party line. Party leaders argue that the recall is anti-democratic. They are 100% correct. But the simple fact is, on the bottom of the ballot you can't beat somebody with nobody. We California Democrats need somebody. And the good news is, there are a lot of somebodies out there.