California has once again become a
Favored Nation in the eyes of Washington. After eight years in
the political doghouse, we have been returned to our national leadership
position – at least as far as auto emissions standards are concerned.
“For the first time in history, we
have set in motion a national policy aimed at both increasing gas mileage
and decreasing greenhouse gas pollution for all new trucks and cars
sold in the United States of America,” said President Obama, flanked
by two governors with the most to gain from his presidency – Jennifer
Granholm of Michigan and Arnold Schwartzenegger of California.
Both Governors are Californians in one way or another – Schwartzenegger
for obvious reasons and Granholm because she graduated from UC-Berkley.
Both are also politically in synch with the president. One is
a Democrat, and one is married to a Democrat (and intensely distrusted
by the true believers of the Republican party). Both delivered
their states for Obama.
But there is even more to the unholy
alliance that has put the nation’s brokest state back in the upbeat
spotlight: the automakers are in on the deal.
From the New York Times:
seven long years, there has been a debate over whether states or the
federal government should regulate autos,” said Dave McCurdy, president
of the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, the industry’s largest trade
association. “President Obama’s announcement ends that old debate
by starting a federal rulemaking to set a national program.
And we like those national programs
– especially when our state leads the way. So it looks like
we’re all environmentalists (and socialists) now. And that
puts California on top. It’s Kumbaya time again!
When a Golden Bear and a Terminator
stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the first black president, you can expect
a tectonic shift (hopefully not on one of California’s faults), and
that’s what seems to be happening under Obama. We’re no longer
focused on states with the highest percentage of NRA members, nor are
we backing away from the societal advances typically led by Californians
(e.g., stem cell research). While a few months ago it seemed we
were close to re-entering the Dark Ages, today we’re back in the modern
world and the shadows have lifted to reveal the sunshine that our state
is famous for (albeit with a little bit of smog thrown in for cultural
Despite our multiple problems of deficits,
droughts and depressions, California may no longer be on the verge of
becoming a silicon rust belt because we are back in the good graces
of the nation’s leaders. Our governor should be congratulated
for walking the fine line between advocacy for his party and advocacy
for his state – a line that seems too narrow for the governors of
South Carolina, Alaska and other red states. But California,
like Sally Fields herself, knows how to make a comeback and remain an
endearing presence to even the middle of America.