Republican? Want to make a "remarkable political comeback"? Become the functional equivalent of a Democrat. At least that would seem to be Good Morning America's advice. A segment of the ABC show focused this morning on the transmogrification of Arnold Schwarzenegger from a Republican who muscularly confronted the Democrats in Sacramento to one working hand-in-glove with them.
The spark for the segment was the deal Arnold has worked out with the Dem-dominated legislature to cut carbon emissions 25% over the next 15 years. Co-host Kate Snow hailed it as "a bold move made despite resistance from the Bush administration." She then turned things over to senior national correspondent Claire Shipman, who had earlier scored an interview with the governor.
Shipman wasted little time in suggesting that maverick is the way to go for Republicans: "The Schwarzenegger administration has decided to break with the Bush administration on fairly critical issues. Is that good politics these days?"
Arnold actually claimed "I don't think one should look at greenhouse gas emissions or global warming as a political issue." Is there something wrong with politics, Arnold? It's how democracy works. How would you want these matters of huge importance resolved - by implementing the recommendations of a panel appointed by Al Gore? Come to think of it, don't answer that.
Shipman tried to drive the wedge deeper: "President Bush is not a popular politician in California right now. If the White House called you tomorrow and Karl Rove got on the phone and said President Bush wants to campaign with you, what would you say?"
Arnold made it clear the welcome mat wouldn't be out: "I would say this is something I can handle myself. I think that it is something that is between me and the people of California."
It was then noted that "The 59-year-old Governor Schwarzenegger has made a remarkable political comeback in the past year, his approval rating jumping from 36% to 49%. How? After taking a beating for governing as an anti-union, Republican, he's moved to the center, cutting deals with the Democratic legislature on minimum wage, prescription drugs and now global warming."
Shipan: "Have you solved your political crisis by essentially turning into a Democrat?"
Schwarzenegger: "First of all, there was really no political crisis. . . I said, okay . . . I'm going to work with the legislators, meaning the Republicans and the Democrats."
There was this telling little exchange after the interview between Shipman and Snow:
Snow: "A marked change from when he used the term 'economic girly men.'"
Shipman: "Yes. It's a interesting political shift for him. I know most of the folks I talked with said they really welcome what he's doing. He's playing to the populace there."
And then, in a sign of just how the mighty have fallen, Snow suggested: "Make room, Al Gore, on that fight."
ABC's message seemed clear enough to Republicans who want to 'pump up' puny approval ratings: go left, young man!