Dec 30 2010

Despite Greenwashing, Schwarzenegger’s Tenure Followed Right Wing Republican Agenda

schwarzeneggerAs the tenure of one of Sacramento’s most unlikely public figures draws to a close, we take a look back at the political persona and legislative reality of California’s first “Governator,” Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2003, hoping to harness the ire against Gray Davis created in part by the recent energy crises, California Republicans triggered the state’s recall election law. Schwarzenegger, using his celebrity and wealth, emerged from what quickly spiraled into a national spectacle—with a large pool of candidates ranging from career politicians to porn stars—to become California’s first-ever governor elected by a state recall. The subsequent seven years saw Governor Schwarzenegger’s public relations oscillate between error and triumph as he toed a moderate-right, pro-business agenda while keeping an eye fixed on the temperament of California’s progressive-leaning constituency. The initial two years of oftentimes unflattering public relations were marked by a media firestorm over his characterization of opponents as a “girly men” and labor unions mounting a successful opposition to his 2005 special election. But in his third year, Schwarzenegger was flanked by Democrats while signing a bill to increase the minimum wage and establish the country’s first cap on greenhouse gas emissions. He seemed make progress on social issues, if only slightly, from his 2005 vetoing of a bill to legalize gay marriage to supporting the Supreme Court hearings on Proposition 8 this past August. Overall, the Austrian-born immigrant hopes to leave behind a legacy of a red-blooded, green-tinged, Obama-like-moderate, willing to put compromise and governance before ideology and party politics. Schwarzenegger has indicated political ambitions to work on the country’s energy policy within the White House.

GUEST: Robert Cruickshank, former Public Policy Director at Courage Campaign and Contributing editor to the progressive blog Calitics.com

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