Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Home of the Buzz Again

August 14, 2003

Last summer it was the Gary Condit drama. For a while, it looked as if this summer would be all about the Laci Peterson murder trial. The national "news" buzz is still emanating from California, but now it's about the drama (or debacle) of recall. Part of the fascination is that, given California's reputation for being first, people in other states wonder, "Can it happen here too?"

Probably not. This isn't Proposition 13, the tax revolt wave from California that splashed over the rest of the nation. California's recall laws are more generous than most. Though all of today's governors can be impeached, only 17 other states have voter recall laws and six justify a recall only when the governor has committed a crime.

National politicians are struggling to divine the potential lessons of the recall. Already it's become something of a proxy for the 2004 presidential race.

Former President Clinton is advising Gov. Gray Davis on how to beat back Arnold Schwarzenegger; Clinton's advice, or so the more fevered speculation in Democratic circles goes, means that if Davis beats the recall and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) decides on a surprise entrance into the presidential race, she will have a lock on the New York and California delegations.

Meanwhile, President Bush surprised his advisers by giving a tentative nod to Schwarzenegger, who could hardly get further from Bush's conservative base and still be called a Republican.

But for many, the recall may simply confirm strongly held stereotypes about California zaniness. "Thank God I live in Wisconsin," Gov. Jim Doyle declared about California's politics last Thursday. "It's a circus." The circus would no doubt include the planned one-hour reality TV special, "Who Wants to Be Governor of California? The Debating Game" on the Game Show Network. And Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is joking that he's glad he doesn't live in California because going up against diminutive "Diff'rent Strokes" actor Gary Coleman would be tough, since he "probably symbolizes smaller government."

California, largely on the back of the "Arnold candidacy," has decisively captured the August spotlight. It's no accident that Time and Newsweek have gone from featuring presidential candidate Howard Dean in the same week on their covers to giving the same treatment to Schwarzenegger. The recall has displaced the presidential race. Eventually, however, the rest of the country will remember the adage, "Enough about you, what about me?"

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|