Arnold was on Face The Nation this morning, live in the studio in Washington, which I guess means that he won’t be presenting Best Picture at the Oscars tonight. Shucks!
He’s in D.C. to address the National Governors Conference tomorrow, to discuss, in his own words:
how important it is to work together. Which doesn’t mean you have to sell out your principles or change or give up anything, that you ultimately want to serve the people rather than the party.
Yes it’s more of his patented “post-partisan” politics that we’ve come to expect from him, nothing new there. And he took the opportunity to reiterate, no fewer than three times, that his 2005 ballot initiatives were “good ideas,” it was his approach that was wrong.
Again, we’ve heard this before. What was most interesting to me about the interview was what he said about Iraq.
Predictably, Arnold, when asked about how Congress is dealing with the war in Iraq, said the following:
Both Congress and the White House should sit down and start working this out rather than just attacking each other and not solving the problem. I mean what good is the nonbinding resolutions and all this stuff and creating all this bitterness?
OK, so he’s couching the war in Iraq in terms of his “can’t we all get along” talking point. No shock there, I suppose, it’s his schtick, why shouldn’t it apply to the war as well? But he then reverts to a classic Republican talking point, belying his claim to be above it all:
The Congress…can cut off funding for the war if they really want to stop the war…they should cut the funding or let the president do what he needs to do because to micromanage a war is the worst thing, it is the ingredient for a loss.
In other words: Democrats are the party of defeat.
Yeah, post-partisan my ass.
But again, we all knew his post-partisan rhetoric was hollow. So where’s the news? Well, for me, it came in his following statement:
I believe very strongly that we should do everything that we can to be victorious and to create the kind of democracy that we envision for Iraq but that we should let the Iraqis know that we are here up until this time and then we’re going to draw back, we’re going to draw our troops out of Iraq. I think a timeline is absolutely important because I think that the people in America don’t want to see another Korean War or another Vietnam War where it’s an open-ended thing. There should be a timeline.
In his capacity as the ambassador of moderation, here he is essentially drawing a line in the sand defining support for a timetable for withdrawal as the moderate stance on the war, no longer the purview of the “anti-war” left. But even more notably he is drawing a clear distinction between himself and the “moderate” Republican candidates for president.
There was a lot of talk after Arnold won re-election so decisively that it could signal that California may be in play for Republicans in 08. Not only would Arnold provide a model of how a Republican can win in the state but also his endorsement and advocacy on behalf of either a John McCain or a Rudy Giuliani could really make them viable. Hell, even top level Republican strategists have let it be known that they consider California winnable next year because of Arnold.
Well, maybe not so much.
What is Arnold’s call for a timetable if not a rebuke of McCain and Giuliani’s more-of-the-same Iraq strategies? McCain has been the staunchest opponent of a timeline, advancing the theory that the enemy would just go into hiding and wait us out until we left; that it would tip our hand, etc. Can you picture Arnold having any real positive impact on the campaigns of either of these guys here considering how strongly they differ on the number one issue of our day? The message he was sending today, mere days after appearing with McCain in what might as well have been an endorsement, was clear:
I’ll appear with you and I’ll even campaign for you if you win the nomination but your position on Iraq is inconsisent with California and inconsistent with me and on that issue, you’re on your own.
Good to see he really means it, on this issue at least, when he says he wants to put people before party. Of course, considering how little credibility his party has, especially in California, it’s not exactly a profile in political courage. But it’s reassuring all the same.