I've been trying to ignore the California gubernatorial election because I'm already sick of billionaire candidate Meg Whitman's heavy play of her saccharine TV commercials. She has the big money, and so is able to flood the airwaves with her simplistic nostrums, yet polls show her to be the leading Republican candidate, and she is tied with Democrat Jerry Brown. Depressing all around.
She is painfully similar in many ways to the current Governor Schwarzenegger, who thought his movie star charm and sensible ideas could cut through the thicket of entrenched powers of Sacramento, such as the rapacious public employees' unions and Democratic Party. In the end he was co-opted and has left the state worse off than he found it.
Why do rich businesspeople think that government is like their companies, where employees meekly obey the boss' every whim? She may be a fine CEO, but it's not the same job, not even close. SacraDemco won't treat her any more kindly than it did Arnold, despite his efforts at outreach across the aisle (which have included cigars and schnapps).
Another naive Republican with no political experience will quickly be ground into road kill by the usual suspects of the California capital.
With that sobering introduction, let's turn to Monday's political debate of Meg Whitman and her primary opponent Steve Poizner, where an interesting topic came up...
[Poizner, Whitman: GOP candidates' first debate, San Francisco Chronicle, March 16, 2010]
But among the most dramatic differences between the two were their views on the potentially incendiary issue of illegal immigration.
Poizner, continuing a potentially risky strategy in recent days, repeated his calls for a return to the approach to immigration in Proposition 187, passed by voters in 1994, which called for denying undocumented immigrants, including children, the right to state-funded services such as education and health care. A federal court later struck down the measure.
"We have to stop illegal immigration," he said. "The only way to do it is to turn the magnets off, by ending, once and for all, all the taxpayer-funded benefits for people who are here illegally," he said. "Meg doesn't want to go that far; I support Prop. 187; she opposes it."
Whitman declared herself "100 percent against amnesty, no exceptions," saying, "We haven't done what we need to do to secure this border."
But she said she did not want to make children accountable for "the sins of their fathers" and didn't support efforts to penalize them. She called instead for "holding employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers," and proposed "a more efficient system" to verify their identity before they are hired.
She also argued that the state should "eliminate sanctuary cities," calling San Francisco "the most egregious example" of a policy that the next governor shouldn't let stand.
Such is the level of political discourse among elite California Republicans, where the guy who is down is forced to tell the truth about illegal immigration's fearful cost.