Angelides brings Iraq into play
|In interviews with the Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee, Democratic gubernatorial challenger Phil Angelides has announced that he will push to remove California's National Guard from Iraq if elected (See stories here and here).|
My first response is that it sounds an awful lot like something Democrat Chris Lehane suggested a month ago here.
Here's what Lehane, who has been quoted in several newspapers in the last few days bemoaning Phil's chances, had to say:
Angelides needs a game-changer–a big play that will change the direction of this campaign. And the play here is to connect Arnold to the fundamental issue of our times–the War in Iraq–and give voters the opportunity to use their 2006 gubernatorial vote as a way to express their opposition (or support) for the war.
How is this possible given that this is a race for the governorship of California and not the presidency or Congress?
Imagine, for a moment, if Angelides were to make public that he has bought five minutes of statewide primetime TV to make a major announcement about what he will do as governor on the single most important issue confronting California and the country–the War In Iraq.
Lehane even wrote a sample speech. Lehane continues:
Here in the deep Blue–so blue it is indigo–state of California, this proclamation would be a classic example of the right policy translating into good politics. The war is extremely unpopular in California across the spectrum–even with Republicans (surveys show two-thirds of Californians disapprove of Bush’s handling of the war). The announcement would generate enormous free media attention and would change the nature of the campaign from a discussion about taxes–a sure loser–to a discussion about Iraq–a sure winner. And this lightening strike would give Angelides the opportunity to seize the offensive and put pressure on Arnold.
The Angelides campaign’s game plan is to expose Schwarzenegger as a man without values–a pol without a soul. What better way to drive this message than forcing Arnold to take a position where there is no room for triangulation. Arnold will either have to disavow his words of support for Bush and Iraq ("I think he (Bush) is doing a great job. I supported the war in Iraq"; defending the war "as the right thing to do"), and thus be opened up like a soft-boiled peanut (to quote former Senator Bob Kerrey) on the central values issue of the day, or oppose the removal of the Guard and take a position that could be the defining issue of the campaign.
Lehane's hopes aside,the immediate response has been that Angelides is on tenuous legal grounds, without the authority to order such a withdrawal. And that such an announcement--made six weeks before Election Day--has an air of a candidacy in decline.
If Angelides hopes is to rally the base (as strategist Bill Carrick suggests in the Times piece), it could be succesful. Lefty blogger Randy Bayne gives a rave review
True, the Governor is powerless to actually bring home our California troops, but he can ask, and he can challenge the President on the issue. It is this challenge that shows true leadership and a willingness to stand up for California. As he has done since the beginning, Angelides continues to spotlight Schwarzengger's support for George Bush and his destructive policies.
Angelides is scheduled to appear at anti-war events on both Tuesday and Thursday this week.