In his latest television ad, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dusts off his old shtick of portraying himself as an outsider battling evil.
Speaking directly into the camera, Schwarzenegger blames "Sacramento" for the budget mess, leaving the impression that he hasn't set foot in the Capitol after nearly six years as governor.
It makes for great television. But it's a lousy display of statesmanship.
Now more than ever, Schwarzenegger must show he can work with lawmakers and strike the tough bargains that will close a $26 billion hole. Fingering lawmakers as the sole source of California's budget troubles not only insults them, it risks torpedoing a deal that is essential if California is to avoid insolvency.
In his TV ad, Schwarzenegger urges viewers to "Stand firm. Stand for California."
Most Californians want the governor to stand firm. In particular, they don't want him to back a budget deal that relies mostly on gimmicks and borrowing. They've seen that script before.
Yet standing firm doesn't mean standing rigidly ideological or spouting misleading rhetoric about "waste and fraud" in certain state programs.
Recently, the governor claimed there was a 25 percent fraud rate in the In-Home Supportive Services program. While IHSS certainly has problems with fraud, it is nowhere near the level suggested by Schwarzenegger, who was forced to backpedal from that claim.
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