Trust Buster: The Betrayal of the California GOP Voter

The Schwarzenegger love child story has triggered the expected sympathetic headlines for "betrayed spouse" Maria Shriver, but there's been relatively little said, at any point in the last 5 years, of the people whom the Governator truly betrayed: the hundreds of thousands of California Republicans who voted him into office. The SF Chronicle provides us with some room to vent:

Sacramento anti-tax advocate Ted Costa looks back at the events he set in motion when he helped kick off California's historic gubernatorial recall in 2003 - culminating in the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger - with more than a little disgust.

"He's betrayed the people who supported him from Day One," said Costa of the former GOP governor, who this week acknowledged betraying wife Maria Shriver by having an affair and an out-of-wedlock child with a housekeeper more than a decade ago. "I don't know why people are shocked."

Melanie Morgan, the former KSFO conservative talk show host who was dubbed the "Mother of the Recall," is also angry. "He squandered his marriage and the good will of the people of California," Morgan said. "And now, he's squandered any legacy."

If you are only now feeling betrayed, you need to stop voting or participating in public life. Schwarzenegger turned his back on Republicans starting in 2006, but when he began pushing global warming "solutions," high speed rail, and a debt & taxes solution to the state budget crisis, he literally turned into a Democrat. But, no matter how many times CA conservatives rolled their eyes and made little rabbit ears motions with their fingers about the "Republican" governor, the fact is that we were stuck with a guy with an "R" after his name who joined with state progressives to run the Golden State into the ground. I, frankly, don't see why the love child story is some major betrayal compared to the actual damage he did to his party and to the state. It's not like Schwarzenegger ever ran as the family values candidate.

And, as long as we're pointing fingers this morning, I'd like to extend a middle-fingered salute to the state GOP establishment who lined up behind Schwarzenegger back in 2003. Ah-nuld, we were assured, would govern as a fiscal conservative without all of that distracting social con stuff. Plus, he would give us a leg up in the culture wars. Made sense at the time, so more traditional types like Darrel Issa (who originally bankrolled the recall movement with the idea of becoming governor*) and the rock solid Tom McClintock were pushed aside withe the usual rationalization that a moderate Republican would be more electable. The old white guys sure were loud in promoting Schwarzenegger's ambitions, and then they sure were silent when he simply stopped governing as a Republican. Hard to know whether that was the silence of acquiescence or of embarrassment.

Incredibly, now that we have learned that a politician can run as a budget cutting conservative and win, but then lose when he governs as a member of the bi-partisan party of big government, the national GOP establishment seems determined to foist the likes of Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty on us while at the same time disparaging people like Herman Cain and Sarah Palin who can actually draw a crowd and whose conservative bona fides are beyond dispute. For heaven's sake Mitt Romney worked to pass left-wing health care reform within the past 5 years, and now he's supposed to be the GOP standard bearer? Why, because he's handsome and has lots of money? That's supposed to make him trustworthy? Forget it.

I get it that not every Republican can be Ronald Reagan. Even Reagan couldn't be Reagan, at least not in the WWRD? sense. But starting around 1994, Republicans have found repeated electoral success in running as conservative budget cutters with an overlay of social conservatism. Yet the results of those elections, whether the Gingrich Revolution or the California Recall or what have you, have been the opposite: revolutionaries (if you can call them that) becoming appropriators, tax raisers and deficit spenders, often within very short order.

The moderate wing of the GOP have gotten the candidates they've wanted for the past 15 years with the result that the size of government has increased along with the depths of our fiscal hole. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the ultimate "electable" Republican and look where that got us. And now we've been cordially invited to make the same mistake on a national scale.

*anyone else remember how an old drunk driving beef came out of nowhere to knock Issa out of contention, but not out of politics? Funny how that worked out.

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