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Hit the Road, Quack

by Mytheos Holt, published

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 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.

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