While I stand by my assessment of Arnold Schwarzenegger, my conclusion was wrong. Schwarzenegger, by failing to fail in last night’s debate, has assured himself probable victory in next month’s election should Gray Davis be recalled.
State Sen. Tom McMcClintock was the night’s biggest loser. He needed Schwarzenegger to commit several unforced errors and send conservatives scurrying into the McClintock column, giving the conservative new life and hushing the Republicans who are calling for him to step aside. But now that Republicans know their Terminator won’t self-destruct in the stretch run, they’ll redouble their efforts to make McClintock drop out of the race.
If Schwarzenegger attends and does well in the next debate, then McClintock will indeed quit. Schwarzenegger will then garner more support than Lt. Gov. Bustamante, who sat passively through the entire debate and left Arianna Huffington to do his dirty work.
The propable election outcome notwithstanding, one thing the debate did prove was the value of “third-party” candidates. The candidate who seemed most focused on issues rather than bickering, and who made the most sense, was Green Party candidate Peter Camejo. If I were a California voter, he’d get my vote.