Sticking With the Devil We Know?

It looks as if Gray Davis’s basic political strategy — making sure the voters never have a decent alternative — may be paying off again. The LA Times poll shows the recall yes/no tightening, and Tradesports now has “recall fails” at about a 33% chance of winning (Schwarzenegger is a little better, Bustamante a little worse). I’m starting to lean toward voting “No” on the recall, partly because Bustamante isn’t doing anything to make it seem more plausible that he would be even a minimally competent Governor.

I expect lots of I-told-you-so’s from the out-of-state Democrats who have already seen this as a reprise of the Clinton impeachment. But they, and particularly the DNC, share the responsibility for not recruiting into the race a Democrat (my candidate, it will be recalled, was Leon Panetta, who would have been willing if asked) who could have walked away with the Round II vote and then actually done something to serve Democratic values as Governor.

The failure of Davis, the rest of the California Democratic establishment, and the national party (including the Presidential candidates) to come to Bustamante’s defense against the absurd charges that he harbors some sort of ethnic prejudice will, I think, stand out as a huge lost opportunity to not only do the right thing but also to earn the gratitude of Latino voters across the country.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party formally endorsed Bustamante in Round II, while the Republican state convention, divided between Schwarzenegger and McClintock forces, failed to make an endorsement.

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: