posted by Alan Greenblatt
I had dinner the other night with a group that included a member of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's cabinet. We talked about how this governor has a tendency to change his approach from time to time. His cabinet member explained, "He's a pragmatist. He finds that something doesn't work and he moves on."
Even considering the source, I found this an interesting spin. Schwarzenegger has veered wildly during his three years in office. In 2004, he was the adroit negotiator, cutting deals and isolating his opponents. Last year, he isolated himself, attacking the legislature and other enemies and putting his program on a disastrous special election ballot.
This year, he's been happily signing lots of legislation -- including the famed global warming bill, which he'll sign today. He's vetoed some things, such as a universal health care plan last Friday, but he's been working pretty well with the legislature. Certainly Sacramento hasn't been hearing the type of acrimony that had been rife for a long while.
It's true that Schwarzenegger cleaned house after last November's special election debacle, purging the help he inherited from Pete Wilson, the state's last Republican governor.
But what will 2007 bring? It's looking increasingly likely that Schwarzenegger will not only win another term, but win decisively. Will he take that as evidence that a more cooperative and some would say moderate approach is the most viable stance for a Republican in California, or will he read victory as a personal mandate and switch back toward a more aggressive stance?
We'll be watching.