Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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The State of Arnold’s State of the State Address

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The first work week of the first year of a new decade, and we begin with a familiar story in California: will there be much newsworthiness in Governor Schwarzenegger’s upcoming State of the State Address?

Already, the Sacramento Bee  and the Los Angeles Times are weighing in on how much “there is there” in Arnold’s final year as a term-limited governator. Will he cross the finish line as an action hero, or spend his last year in office a prisoner of the system he promised to reform back in the 2003 recall?

It won’t be the last time the media try to break down Schwarzenegger’s lame-duck status. When you think about it, it’s a curious facet of modern political journalism: we can’t speculate soon enough about the next election; we want to perform autopsies on incumbents while they’re still in the office and, presumably, still have a pulse.

OK, on to Wednesday’s big speech. Here are two things to note, two days out:

1) The address has been moved up to 10 a.m., instead of the traditional 5 p.m. start. That tells me there’s little drama in this year’s installation — nothing to compel local tv to go “live at 5”.  Still, is it newsy enuf to bump, say, the ladies of “The View”?

2) We haven’t seen much of a rollout — little tidbits being leaked out in the days leading up to the speech, making the event that spans several newscycles. We did this ad nauseum during the latter years of the Wilson Administration, so much so that the speech itself was seriously anti-climatic. But not this time around. Again, that would indicate precious little of real news substance.

So what will Arnold talk about? You can expect bipartisanship, a need to get to work sooner rather on the budget, no excuse for not getting the buget passed on time, my wonderful wife Maria, my even more friend Barack (not because Arnold’s job-hunting, but because the governor would love a big old $8 billion bailout from Washington). Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? SOS=State of the State=Same Old Stuff.

Then again, one can make the argument that it doesn’t matter what Arnold says on Wednesday morning because, frankly, there’s a bigger story fast approaching on the horizon: his doom-and-gloom budget proposal, which won’t have much in the way of holiday cheer, just lots of bad news thanks to the recession and a multi-billion-dollar deficit.

How much does the deficit dominate things?  The governor could stand on his head for 20 minutes. He could read the Sacramento yellow pages. He could announce in Wednesday’s speech that he’s mobilizing the California National Guard to invade Nevada, seize the casinos and brothels, using the revenue to whittle down the deficit, and it wouldn’t matter a whit once the media starts getting the details about education and health-service cuts.

It’s the reality facing this governor in 2010. Yes, are important legacy items are as yet unresolved: the open primary initiative, the water bond, and choosing his successor. But the budget will remain the lead story of the year. And, unfortunately for Arnold, a subject that will dog him long after he leaves office.

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Written by Bill Whalen

January 4, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Myers, KQED, Rachel Pitts. Rachel Pitts said: We're having a viewing party too! RT @KQED_CapNotes: Don't bother w/Guv's State-o-State, says GOP politico Bill Whalen. http://ow.ly/SHPo […]


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