Real Choices

Virginia Postrel makes a reasonable case — not necessarily a correct one, but certainly a reasonable one — that the populist nonsense Cruz Bustamante is spouting about economics suggests that he might make a worse governor even than Gray Davis. [*]

But, accepting that claim as true for the purposes of argument, the practical conclusion she draws from it — that Democrats should vote “No” on Round I and blank Round II — doesn’t follow. There may be a case for Democrats to vote “No” on Round I. But blanking Round II would be an act of utter irresponsibility, like a vote for Nader in 2000. The Round II vote is relevant only if, as still seems likely, Davis gets the boot in Round I. In that case, the question isn’t Bustamante vs. Davis: it’s Bustamante vs. Schwarzenegger.

If Virginia or anyone else can put together a coherent argument that Bustamante would be worse than Schwarzenegger, I’m all ears. But that case would need to address what we know about Schwarzenegger: the incoherence of his fiscal positions and the bankruptcy that would result if he were elected and kept his promises, his unwillingness to answer questions, his almost immediate breach of the promises he made forgo special-interest money and personal attacks, his utter ignorance of state government and contempt for those who do understand it, the profile in cowardice he showed on the Waldheim matter, his associations with the racists around Pete Wilson and the crooks around Chuck Quackenbush.

And, yes, his unspeakable vulgarity, as expressed in his movies, his Hummer, and his relationships with women (and, apparently, with girls).

I’m going to take some convincing.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: