When I hailed a cab this morning to go to the airport, the cabbie asked me why I was in town. I told him that I had spent the evening in a tux at the Governor's Inaugural Ball.
His response... "Did any Republicans go?"
I followed up and asked him what he meant. He said that he and some other cabbies saw or heard parts of his speech, and decided that Republicans must be upset that in his speech, the Governor "trashed" his own party. He said , "Isn't he a Republican himself? I just figured if Republicans worked hard to elect him, they might be mad that he has jettisoned his own party in favor of this...what did he call it? The 'Post Party Era?"
I asked the cabbie if he was a Republican, and he said that he wasn't - he was a Democrat. He said, "I just feel sorry for you guys..." Sigh.
My local Assemblyman, Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine), had this to say last night as he reflected on the Governor's Inaugural Address: "I considered his words and wondered: when a conservative who favors smaller government and lower taxes 'compromises' with a liberal who favors larger government and higher taxes in a 'post-partisan' fashion, does that mean government and taxes grow, but just somewhat less so than what the liberal wants?" DeVore further says, " If so, then that's not much of a compromise, since the liberal is getting more of what he wants while the conservative is seeing his goal slip further away."
Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines is quoted this morning in the San Jose Mercury News as saying, "I saw where he was going. The Governor is really committed to bipartisan work and I credit him for that. But bipartisanship isn't one party running everything while the other one has to sit out and watch."
When I reflect on the speech, I think I was insulted by it. And let me quickly add that it may not have been the Governor's intention, but his speech was basically dismissive of conservatives. I came away thinking that the Governor doesn't feel that it is a valid point of view to feel that state government is too expansive, taxes too much, and regulates too much.
I was quite unnerved by the Governor's comment that we are entering a "Post-Partisan Era" (as referred to by my cabbie) - as that kind of simplistic theme seems to discount that, frankly, both of the major political parties are founded around some basic core beliefs about how government should work.
At the ball, I can't tell you how many state legislators quipped to me (one a Democrat) that they were suffering from "post-party depression," a playoff of the phrase "post-partum depression", a condition where some new mothers suffer a malaise after having their baby.
Republican activists, including this one, worked hard to elect this Republican Governor. Yes, I have come to expect that Arnold Schwarzenegger has some liberal views on a few issues. But I didn't expect to hear an inaugural address that, in essence, repudiated political parties, including his own. The rhetoric of the speech stung.
I was counseled that we should judge the Governor on what he does, not just what he says. But whomever helped the Governor write that speech clearly didn't think about, or didn't care about what the hard working Republican activists who labored hard for him would feel about it.
The Governor did not run for office as an independent, he ran as a Republican. He has no trouble giving very heartwarming speeches at GOP conventions talking about his love and loyalty to the party of Ronald Reagan. How should Republicans feel about his speech? Never once in his speech did he say he was proud to be a Republican, or thank his Party for its efforts on his behalf.
I told my cabbie, before getting out, "Well, I'm a Republican and while the speech was not my favorite, you just watch and wait. This Governor believes in freedom and liberty, not centralized government."
I guess I'll wait for the roll-out of his new health care proposals and his "state of the state" address to see if the Governor who was elected as a fiscal conservative still is one. But it won't just be me, it will be an army of GOP volunteers and donors (some of them pretty large donors) waiting to see what kind of role the Governor feels that government should play in the lives of Californians.
That said, the ball was a blast. I saw many of our FR bloggers there, and I actually attended as a guest of our political law correspondent, Jim Lacy (thanks, Jim). I saw many friends, and it was a bit surreal to hear Donna Summer sing her classic 70's tunes. I did lament along with Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner's daughter that "cool contemporary groups" like the Black Eyed Peas weren't around. But as I recall, they played at John Kerry's non-victory party back in '04. Well, we did have Paul Anka...