The 'Governator' runs and hides

dancing governor girlie-man

Like a 'girlie-man'

How the mighty Arnold has fallen! When the unpopular Governor Gray Davis was recalled, Schwarzenegger swept into office as a larger-then-life character straight out of Hollywood casting. He had charmed the voters and even survived a last-minute scandal about his womanizing. (Whatever happened to that investigation, anyway?) Once in Sacramento, Arnold installed a big tent outside his Capitol office where he could schmooze, smoke cigars, and cut deals. To the surprise of many, Arnold achieved early successes by pushing through a number of items on his agenda. But it has been all downhill since then.

field poll

The 'Governator' is now deeply unpopular, with only slightly more than one-third of voters "inclined" to give him another term as governor in 2006 (Field poll). His tough-talking braggadocio has been no match for determined nurses in uniform who demonstrate at his every appearance. His constant threats to bypass the legislature and go straight to "the people" have worn thin, and people are tired of special elections to deal with unpopular ballot initiatives. Symbolically, a bill is making its way through the legislature to do away with his smoking tent! (San Diego Union-Tribune)

The legislature recently broke new ground by passing in both houses a bill, AB849, that amends the Family Code to "provide that marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between 2 persons" (instead of between a man and a woman). California thus became the first state in the nation to pass such a bill without being forced to by the courts.

tom toles
Tom Toles (Click image to enlarge)

The bill now sits on Governor Schwarzenegger's desk, awaiting his signature. Schwarzenegger, however, has announced through an aide that he intends to veto the bill because — get this! — he thinks such issues should be settled by the courts instead of elected representatives of the people.

Opponents of gay marriage have made unelected, unaccountable, out-of-control judges the rallying cry for their opposition, claiming that such decisions should only be made by legislatures. But confronted with a legislature that has taken exactly that action, Schwarzenegger now says exactly the opposite! When he was campaigning Arnold said he was "fine" with gay marriage if the people were (San Francisco Chronicle, 2-Mar-2004). Hey Arnold, didn't they teach you in your citizenship classes that in a representative system of government the legislature represents the people?

Arnold should sign the bill. Sure, it would piss off his "base" but his base alone can't get him re-elected anyway. And it would be just the sort of bold, principled move that would certainly get attention (and isn't that what every movie star craves?) and might even be lauded in the way that Nixon was after he made overtures to China ("He's the only one who could have done it"). Here's a chance to once again put Cal-ee-for-nee-a in the vanguard (albeit behind most other countries) in straightening out a co-mingling of church and state that ought to have been straightened out long ago. Let the state take care of the contractual aspects of marriage and let the church take care of the religious aspects of marriage. Remember, even bonnie Prince Charles went to the town hall to marry Camilla (civil contract), separate from the religious ceremony that followed at Windsor Castle with Mummy in attendance.

Arnold has already announced, through a spokesperson, that he intends to veto the bill. What a wuss — he's not brave enough to face the cameras and say so himself?

There is a last-minute campaign under way to encourage "the people" to call Arnold and give their opinion (see sidebar).

In the meantime, you can visit and watch Arnold dance.