The Blog

Twins

The Governator and George W. Bush get together in California to discuss how they can help one another.

12:00 AM, Oct 17, 2003 • By BILL WHALEN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

(2) Put the "Green" in Greenback. Schwarzenegger will soon discover that in order to get money from Washington, the guarantee of good photo-ops for the Bush administration is a strong enticement. In California, the best place for pretty pictures is environmental policy. During recall, Schwarzenegger pitched three environmental ideas that require federal largesse: hydrogen fuel development; improvements for protecting Lake Tahoe; and the federal purchase of offshore oil leases. The Bush administration has already done the latter in Florida, helping the president's brother. All three will get the Bush White House good coverage in green-obsessed coastal California where the president's popularity is soft.

(3) Unleash the President's Cabinet. Yesterday, while Schwarzenegger and Bush met in Riverside, Interior secretary Gale Norton was at Nevada's Hoover Dam, signing a deal to transfer billions of gallons of water from California desert farms to coastal cities. That's big news in a state whose water war is seemingly endless. With a friendly regime in Sacramento, the president's surrogates can work the state's media markets, announcing grants and waivers to California's benefit. This is a page from the Clinton play book. Not a week went by during the Clinton-Gore years without at least one appointee making news in the Golden State. Bonus: Three Bush cabinet secretaries--Ann Veneman, Norm Mineta and Anthony Principi--are California natives.

(4) Arnold as the Man of the House. Swing a dead cat in the House of Representatives and you'll strike a California Republican in a position of influence. Five California GOP congressmen chair House committees. That includes Ways & Means, Armed Services, and Resources. Another five chair subcommittees. This gives Arnold flexibility when it comes to scrounging for money (Rep. Jerry Lewis, for example, chairs the National Security Appropriations subcommittee) or rewriting regulations (Rep. Bill Thomas chairs the House Ways & Means Committee, the ultimate soup-to-nuts operation). The former muscleman also has political power in the form of Rep. David Dreier, his leading campaign surrogate and the chairman of the House Rules Committee, which controls floor votes. Schwarzenegger will find the 20 California Republicans in the House responsive to his needs--and far more pleasant to deal with than Barbara Boxer, who, even on a good day, makes Arianna Huffington seem like Mother Theresa.

(5) Bait the "Fishhook." The president's visit to Riverside was no accident. California's Inland Empire is part of a Republican "fishhook" strategy for carrying California in 2004 (Schwarzenegger appeared in that neck of the woods three times during the last five days of recall). Starting north in Sacramento, GOP support moves south through the Central Valley toward the Inland Empire, then west through Orange County toward San Diego--a fishhook shape on a map. California Republicans need to convince the Bush White House that repeat visits are a worthy investment of his time and, hopefully, his money. The Bush reelect team likes the idea of having California in play--especially the notion of Democrats diverting millions of dollars from other states to secure their California base, which Al Gore didn't have to do in 2000. With Arnold by his side, the president just might have fun.

Schwarzenegger is scheduled to take his oath on or about November 17. Keep an eye on who represents the White House at the changing of the guard. Is it Bush moneyman Gerry Parsky, or a more prominent emissary from back east--perhaps the vice president? Now that they're fast friends, let's see how fast the president comes to the aid of his new pal.

Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he follows California and national politics.

Correction appended 10/17/03: The article originally stated that Rep. Duncan Hunter chairs the National Security Appropriations subcommittee. Rep. Jerry Lewis chairs that subcommittee.