Man Without Qualities

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Davis Descending XXXV: Simon Out

The Man Without Qualities gets results! It seems that Bill Simon has finally responded to my several messages left on his campaign headquarters voice mail system pleading with him to salvage my reputation as a political pundit by promptly and selflessly withdrawing from the recall race. I carefully explained in each voice message that my request had absolutely nothing to do with the subsidiary question of whether he would make the best governor of California.

And now it has happened. God, what took so long? Doesn't this guy listen to his voice mail? And what's with the statement of his campaign spokesman: "There was absolutely no pressure, no phone calls — this was a decision made by Bill Simon based on rational conclusions." Square with the people, Bill!

And what's with McClintock and Ueberroth? Don't they listen to their voice mail? Time is running out!

Thank goodness I took that correspondence course from the Paul Krugman School of Obfuscatory Prediction Writing (expensive, but worth it!) and carefully scribed my prediction in the pseudo-precise form that allows me maximum wiggle room: Simon, McClintock and Ueberroth will throw their support to Arnold Schwarzenegger within days.

"Within days!" What a clever boy am I! The "days" are not up - it's still "within days." My prediction is looking pretty good.

Thank you, Herr Doktorprofessor!


POSTSCRIPT: I continue to expect Messrs. McClintock and Ueberroth to withdraw, and soon. The race cannot be conducted with three Republicans in it without substantial cannibalism effects, and that's going to tick off seriously a lot of Republicans if a candidate has no realistic chance of winning. Mr. McClintock is a professional politician and current office holder, and will incur huge animosity in the Republican Party if he is even arguably the reason Cruz Bustamante becomes governor. Also, Mr. McClintock cannot win and has little money. So what's the real point, at least if Arnold Schwarzenegger stops trying to sound like a Rockefeller Republican so much - which he has been trying to do.

Mr. Ueberroth would have to spend a lot of his own money to fail. He didn't get rich that way - and he won't make any friends that way, either. I cannot see Mr.Ueberroth inflaming the bulk of the Republican establishment just to run a failing, expensive campaign. Vanity has its limits.

It may be too bad, because if there is real or invented "dirt" released against Arnold Schwarzenegger, I expect Mr. Mulhulland will do it in his customary campaign fashion: at the last minute. That's how Bruce Hershenson was slimed as a porno fan on behalf of Barbara Boxer. But that will likely be long after Messrs. McClintock and Ueberroth withdraw.

I expect pressure on Messrs. McClintock and Ueberroth to withdraw to become rapidly unbearable, especially given the results of a new poll, as reported by the Los Angeles Times:

As the sole major Democrat running to replace Davis — should the incumbent be ousted Oct. 7 — Bustamante enjoys the support of 35% of likely voters, the poll found.

Schwarzenegger received 22% support, followed by three fellow Republicans: state Sen. Tom McClintock of Thousand Oaks with 12%, businessman Peter V. Ueberroth with 7% and Bill Simon Jr. — the GOP's 2002 gubernatorial nominee — with 6%.

Those poll results suggest that if Messrs. McClintock and Ueberroth now withdrew, Mr. Schwarzenegger's support might be as high as 47% - far ahead of Mr. Bustamante. Of course, such support transfers are not automatic. But that leaves a pretty nasty situation for Messrs. McClintock and Ueberroth.

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