Hit the Road, Quack

In the classic Mel
Brooks film “Young Frankenstein,” Baron Beaufort Von Frankenstein’s
last will and testament loudly bemoans the fact that “there was a time
when the name Frankenstein conjured dreams of virtue.” The implication
is that Baron Von Frankenstein’s name now conjures the opposite, and
indeed, given what we all know of Mary Shelley’s novel, this would be a
realistic implication.

Similarly, environmentalists all over California may
be loudly bemoaning the fact that there was a time when the name
Schwarzenegger conjured dreams of “appeasement,” “bipartisanship,”
“enlightenment,” and other words which Leftists routinely invoke to
soften the blow when Nixonian gutlessness takes precedence over
principle among supposedly conservative politicians. But much like
Baron Beaufort’s legacy, Governor Schwarzenegger’s legacy as the shine
on the shoes of California Democrats (so named because of the constant
applications of his tongue to said objects) is now over. Now, almost as
if he has been placed on an operating table and had his brain replaced
with the brain of Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater, Schwarzenegger is
rising up with thunderous endorsements of a truly conservative agenda,
causing the Leftists to go for their pitchforks while Republicans
joyously scream “It’s alive!”

The most recent example of Schwarzenegger’s sudden discovery of a spine comes from the Los Angeles Times,
which reports that the governor has decided to fast track the
development of several highway projects, despite their dubious
environmental consequences. This move has made environmentalists
everywhere emerge from the woodwork en masse, bearing looks of horror.
And like the stray bits of granola which may or may not be still stuck
in the teeth of these detractors, it certainly appears that the
environmentalists have become the irrelevant leftovers of Governor
Schwarzenegger’s former political sustenance as a “moderate.”

Of course, Schwarzenegger is arguing that he has no intention of abandoning the environmentalists permanently – the Times
reports that Schwarzenegger’s Caltrans director believes the governor’s
temporary suspension of environmental action to be a response to “an
economic emergency [which] requires we look for ways to create jobs.”
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Schwarzenegger is sincere
in saying that he does not wish to gut the environmentalist agenda
within his cabinet. If this is really true, then Schwarzenegger must
have a terrible blind spot when it comes to the consequences of his
actions, which is not something which a politician as historically
cynical as he is should have. Schwarzenegger must know that what his
intentions are in this case are completely irrelevant because of his
lack of credulity with both his own party and the Democrats, and that
if he cannot get a budget compromise passed due to the opposition of Republican senators, it would be sheer folly to think that he could get environmental regulations reinstated after they have already been gutted.

Again, it is unlikely that a politician as clever as Schwarzenegger
would believe something this silly, so why the disavowals? Well,
because Schwarzenegger is far too savvy to personally disavow his
“enlightened” image just to get on the good side of the minority party
in California’s legislature. Pretty much all political actors know that
environmentalism is a dead dog nationally, even to the point that one
of the most liberal online papers published an angry denunciation
of Al Gore’s scare tactics. But in California, home of Hollywood and
San Francisco, environmentalism still carries a lot of water. As such,
Schwarzenegger is doing the smartest thing he can do with this highway
project – relaxing the environmental regulations in the name of
“crisis” and letting the rest of his party give the boot to the
malcontents.