More evidence that Republicans are refusing to learn from the success of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Charlie Crist: Robert Novak wonders if Arnie can even be considered a Republican anymore. The imediate subject is Schwarzenegger's unwillingness to act as "midwife" for a deal that would loosen term limits in exchange for a Republican-friendly redistricting plan (I don't know the details, but my first reaction is that any Democrat who'd agree to that should be tarred and feathered). Novak goes on to observe that Arnold just hasn't been the same good Republican soldier since 2005:
The Republican Party's condition in the nation's most populous state is desperate, with Schwarzenegger its only visible asset. Yet a redistricting that would help the GOP immeasurably is considered outside the frame of reference for the Republican governor, who remembers the issue as one of the ballot propositions he lost in the disastrous election of 2005. His current national priority is preaching the menace of global warming, and his state mission is practicing the "post-partisanship" of governing across party lines....One can understand California conservatives' sense of betrayal. But if Schwarzenegger is the state GOP's only asset, then the logical conclusion is that the California Republican Party is nothing but a liability to a politician who wants to be successful statewide. No wonder he felt compelled to leave it behind, then. The question is whether the party's establishment will, going forward, prefer a rump conservative opposition, or a more dynamic Schwarzennegerian-style progressive Republicanism. I don't follow California politics closely, so I wouldn't know -- but then it doesn't seem too tough to guess.
The turning point came when Schwarzenegger went head-to-head against the state's powerful labor unions, and all of his ballot initiatives were defeated in the 2005 elections. That brought many changes. Mike Murphy, Schwarzenegger's nationally renowned Republican political consultant, who guided him in victory, in the 2003 recall election, and in defeat, with the 2005 ballot propositions, was gone. Liberal Democrat Susan Kennedy became his chief of staff. His Democratic wife, Maria Shriver, gained influence. Peace was made with labor. The governor broke his pledge of no tax increases by proposing $4.5 billion in "fees" to finance his health plan.