Get Your Blue Books Ready: The first debate among the California gubernatorial candidates to include Arnold Schwarzenegger will take place a week from today. As promised, this morning the California Broadcasters' Association released the questions that the candidates will be asked. Now, while there's been some snickering about the association's decision to give the candidates so much prep time, anyone who took an open-book test in college or law school knows that having the questions ahead of time can be a double-edged sword. Yes, the "curveball" factor is removed. But, one hopes, the bar for thoughtful, specific, cogent responses will also be raised.
Here are the questions:
1. What do you expect to accomplish in the time remaining on Gray Davis' term that he could not?
2. How would you propose enhancing revenue and/or what specific cuts would you propose to achieve a balanced budget?
3. Everybody talks about wanting a colorblind society, but what does that actually mean to you? In other words, how do we know when we have succeeded?
4. Leaders in the business community are convinced that this state is losing jobs and unable to attract new businesses. If you agree, what are two things you would change to make this a more business-friendly state? If you disagree, what are the misconceptions you would like to correct?
5. How are you going to insure that all Californians have adequate healthcare?
6. What should be the top priority for California right now?
7. If elected Governor, will you support the expansion of charter schools in California?
8. What is the single most important piece of legislation either signed or vetoed during this past legislative session?
9. Do you support reducing the Vehicle License Fee (car tax), and if so, where would you
find the revenue to replace the loss to the budget?
10. What services will your Administration expect local governments to provide and what stable source of revenue will you give them to do it?
11. Under Governors Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan, California spent up to 20 percent of its General Fund on Infrastructure - such as roads, bridges, colleges, hospitals and water systems. Now we spend closer to 1 percent. Proposition 53 on the ballot raises that figure to 3 percent. What are your positions on Prop 53 and what will you do to invest more in California's aging infrastructure?
12. As our population continues to age, the demand for government services to seniors will increase dramatically during the next decade. What do you intend to do to proactively manage this demand?
A Real Dreamy Ticket: All the buzz about a dream ticket of Wesley Clark and Hillary Clinton may be a bit premature. Today, at least, Gen. Clark may be upstaged by a new man in Hillary's life - actor George Clooney - who has become a fixture in Washington, where he's been shooting his political drama "K Street" for HBO.
Wednesday he's diving into more substantial issues as he attends a press conference with a bipartisan coalition of members of congress, including Sen. Clinton, to discuss support of the 2-1-1 Act, a telephone number that connects callers with important community services and volunteer opportunities.
There are a number of former Clinton-Gore operatives and FOBs like Mickey Kantor and Eli Segal back in Little Rock keep the Clinton-Clark idea alive, although sources close to Sen. Clinton are adamant that she is not planning to run in 2004. Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., who has endorsed Clark, said that Sen. Clinton speaks glowingly of Clark, but she told him to make sure people understood that she wasn't planning to endorse him.
Former President Clinton has called Clark and Hillary the "two stars of the Democratic party." And he continues to tantalize Democratic dreamers who want to keep the flame alive. According to the New York Sun, the former president believes that "many" New Yorkers wouldn't object to his wife breaking her Senate pledge: "I was impressed at the state fair in New York, which is in Republican country in upstate New York, at how many New Yorkers came up and said they would release her from her commitment if she wanted to do it," Mr. Clinton said.
General Admission: When Wesley Clark takes the podium Wednesday in Little Rock, Ark., the retired four-star Army general will embark on one of his most difficult missions: getting elected president of the United States after being a general.
Generals-turned-presidents were all the rage in the 18th and 19th centuries, but their political potency has waned since then. In fact, since the dawn of the 20th century, just one general, Dwight Eisenhower, was elected commander in chief. And that was 53 years ago.
Since Ike, of course, a few generals have made unsuccessful moves for the White House (Douglas MacArthur and Al Haig, to name a couple) and one (now-Secretary of State Colin Powell) caused widespread GOP salivating when it was rumored in the 1990s that he was considering a run.
According to Slate magazine, the ten generals who did make it to the executive mansion were George Washington, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison and, of course, Ike.
Should Clark manage to get the nomination, only to lose to George W. Bush, he'd still have plenty of company in the generals-turned-nominee-turned-loser category, which includes Lewis Cass (Democratic nominee in1848), Winfield Scott (Whig nominee in 1852) and George McClellan (Democratic nominee, 1864).
Quote of the Day: "I think the Seattle voters understood that childcare is important and funding with an unfair tax is not the way to deal with something important." -- Randy Pepple, a spokesman for JOLT, a group that opposed a plan to tax espresso, which was defeated overwhelmingly by Seattle voters Tuesday.