New York Times West Coast Editor, John Broder, reported the story about Susan Kennedy voting for all four of Arnold's propositions four days before I saw it in the LA Weekly! And not only did John Broder get the real story correct - about Susan Kennedy's move to the right, but he also did not push the fiction that this was somehow a deliberate move by Arnold to piss off social conservatives.
December 1, 2005
Irking Conservatives, Schwarzenegger Replaces Top Aide With a Democrat
By JOHN M. BRODER
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 30 - In an abrupt political shift after a drubbing at the polls three weeks ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named a former top Democratic official on Wednesday as his chief of staff. The move touched off howls from conservative Republicans, who called the appointment a betrayal of the party that helped him win the governorship two years ago.
The governor's new top aide is Susan P. Kennedy, 45, who was deputy chief of staff and cabinet secretary to Gov. Gray Davis, the Democrat Mr. Schwarzenegger deposed in a recall election. Ms. Kennedy, an advocate of abortion rights and gay rights, is a former executive director of the California Democratic Party and communications director for Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat.
As chief of staff, she will direct the governor's staff and be responsible for carrying out his agenda.
Ms. Kennedy's appointment represents a marked move to the left for Mr. Schwarzenegger, who saw all four ballot measures he worked for this year defeated on Nov. 8. The measures, to toughen teacher tenure rules, restrict union political activity, cap state spending and change the way legislative districts are drawn, were intended to limit the power of Democrats and public employee unions in Sacramento. Ms. Kennedy said she had supported the four measures, one of the few Democratic leaders in the state to do so.
Now I originally thought - and posted - that no one at the LA Times reported this story because it was never mentioned - and continues to be not be mentioned in any news stories. But I did miss that it was mentioned by columnist George Skelton on December 1st and I apologize to him for missing that.
And like many others, I am glad he elected to not take a buyout, but I do totally disagree with his take on the Susan Kennedy appointment. I feel she is a brilliant choice. Arnold selected a very bright person who is connected with - and respected by - all the Democrats he needs to deal with in Sacramento to get anything done and her political philosophy is now very close to his own.
And here is exactly where Skleton so totally went off the tracks, crashed and burned:
The potential problem for Schwarzenegger is with his Republican base. He must move to the center to attract moderate Democrats and independents for his reelection. But he can't do that with a staffer.
He needs to do it with issues: improving education, keeping his promise to schools on funding, launching that super-expensive, ambitious infrastructure program. And to do all this, he'll need the grudging support of Republican legislators.
The smart move for Schwarzenegger might have been to recruit a conservative chief of staff who could cover his right flank while he moves to the middle.But Schwarzenegger considered Kennedy the best available. And what's that say to Republicans? That none is worthy?
This is just so... wrong!
First, the Republican aren't going anywhere - because they have no place to go! Granted some hard core social conservatives are going to be annoyed, but they will eventually come home. And even if some of them do not, there are a hell of a lot more independents and moderate Democrats in this state to make up for them.
Second, Skelton is dead right in that Arnold needs to get legislation passed to win reelection, but it is not Republicans he needs to woo to get anything passed - but the Democratic majority in both houses! And appointing a conservative Republican to deal with them - would be simply... stupid!
And as far as Arnold insulting Republicans by saying Susan Kennedy is the best choice, well that is total, complete... well - do I really need to say what it is? After all, this is a family values blog.
To begin with, she is highly qualified. But the real reason she is the best choice is because she is the perfect person do deal with the Democrats he needs to get the bills passed he needs passed to get reelected! She also knows one of Arnold's two most likely opponents - State Treasurer Phil Angelides - inside and out.
It is not that extremist choice that Skelton says, but a highly rational, even conservative, one.
Meanwhile, back at the home ranch, six days later - and many stories and two editorials later --not one LA Times news article has yet mentioned that her philosophy has moved so far to the center/right that she voted for all four of Arnold's propositions, a fact that if fully reported, would considerably undercut much of the furor of her appointment.
And of course, that's probably the reason it has gone so under reported!