Ed Driscoll

Total Recall

Here’s Arnold Schwarzenegger quoted in the L.A. Times, urging Republicans to abandon their core principles:

In the wake of crushing defeats for Republicans in last week’s national elections, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Sunday that his party should regroup by moving away from some of its core conservative principles and embracing spending on programs that Americans want.

“I think the important thing for the Republican Party is now to also look at other issues that are very important for this country and not to get stuck in ideology,” the governor said in an interview broadcast on CNN. “Let’s go and talk about healthcare reform. Let’s go and . . . fund programs if they’re necessary programs and not get stuck just on the fiscal responsibility.”

Schwarzenegger, a social moderate, long ago earned the enmity of many California Republicans who believe he abandoned some of the fiscally conservative views he espoused when running for office five years ago. They cite, for instance, his failed plan to dramatically expand health insurance in the state.

Last week, Schwarzenegger further angered Republicans by proposing a statewide sales-tax increase to balance the budget.

But the governor has not previously been so openly critical of the approach of the conservative bloc that dominates his party on the national level. He said that Republicans had “a very good party” and that he had no plans to leave it because he agrees with the GOP’s push to reduce restrictions on business and remain tough on crime.

Schwarzenegger said, however, that the GOP should support greater investment to build roads and fix schools and fund other “things that the American people want to have done.”

Republicans should not “always just say, ‘This is spending. We can’t do that,’ ” the governor said. “No, don’t get stuck with that. We have heard that dialogue. Let’s move on.”

In 2004 though, Arnold was speaking from a rather different script:

I finally arrived here in 1968. What a special day it was. I remember I arrived here with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of determination, full of desire.

The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the Nixon-Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend of mine who spoke German and English translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which I had just left.

SCHWARZENEGGER: But then I heard Nixon speak. Then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military.

(APPLAUSE)

Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.

I said to my friend, I said, “What party is he?”

My friend said, “He’s a Republican.”

I said, “Then I am a Republican.”

Of course, Nixon would abandon most of his core principles as well and move leftward himself while governing. But on the plus side, he earned the deep respect and eternal support of early-1970s liberals in the process. Which is why the eight uninterrupted years of the Nixon Administration are remembered so fondly on both sides of the aisle as a joyful interregnum in the culture wars.