Thursday, September 25, 2003
Thoughts on the debate: I watched/listened to quite a bit of Wednesday's California recall/gubernatorial debate. It was on in the newsroom, but I couldn't pay 100 percent attention to it because I had other work to do. You can find a transcript of the entire debate right here.
- The debate's format, something that was a point of contention, worked surprisingly well. Candidates were able to give longer, though still scripted, answers. You didn't have the annoying moderator trying to cut them off incessantly. Everyone got their say, and it just seemed to be more interesting this way.
- Arianna Huffington is a nut. Arnold Schwarzenegger had it right when he suggested that she should be running against George W. Bush -- every issue that was raised, Huffington linked to problems in Washington, D.C. If Huffington wants to solve the problems she's identified, then she's running for the wrong office. If there is another debate, Huffington shouldn't be invited to participate.
- Bustamante made it through the night with no major gaffes, but he did make an admission that Schwarzenegger and McClintock would be wise to pounce on in their media buys.
Well clearly we spent too much. We spent more as a government, we spent more than it was coming in. There's no rocket science to this. We clearly knew that there were certain incomes that were coming in, and we spent more than we had. But what I've decided to do, what I've decided, to face this realistically, to deal with this practically, to understand it and not tell half-truths about what we're likely able to do. We've done all the easy things, and now it's time to do the tough things. That's why I submitted a plan. A plan that I called tough love for California. In that plan, I raised tobacco taxes, I raised alcohol taxes, I raised the upper income tax brackets on the largest and the highest 4 percent of all Californians. I do that, but in return we close the budget gap, we fully fund education, we put 123,000 community college students back into our colleges, and we relieve the car tax for all those vehicles that are under $20,000. We do something in terms of raising taxes. She called it raising revenues. We know what it really is. But at the same time, we get something good for California.
Bustamante acknowledges that the governor and the state legislature spent taxpayer funds irresponsibly -- and now they want more. Also note the conflicting impulses from the Democrat candidate. Bustamante wants to raise taxes on "the rich" (I'm always wary of how that definition is determined -- sometimes it seems much too low), but he also wants to raise the "sin" taxes on tobacco and alcohol -- which is effectively a tax on the poor.
- Bustamante also seemed very laid back. Quite a few of the commentators, including Democrat Susan Estrich, observed that it appeared as though Bustamante had been over-prescribed valium. Others likened his performance to that of Al Gore with his condescending sighs towards George W. Bush.
- Schwarzenegger had some good one-liners, but not a whole lot in the way of substance. He was right to note that Bustamante and Huffington seem to believe that the only major problem in California is the fact that corporations and "the rich" aren't taxed enough. Polls show that the vast majority of Californians think the state is heading in the wrong direction -- raising taxes alone is not going to get that opinion turned around.
- McClintock overall gave the best performance, though his odds of being elected are still long. Agree or disagree with him, he knows what he stands for and isn't inclined to compromise. He doesn't try to soften stands that are considered unpopular among many Californians (read: pro-life), he is who he is.
- Peter Camejo is a socialist. If that's what you want, he's your man.
Hopefully there will be at least one more debate and hopefully Schwarzenegger will show up for it. The residents of California deserve more than one with Arnold present.