In many ways, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a huge disappointment as California governor. He charged into office vowing to "blow up the boxes" of a state budget that had ballooned under Gray Davis to include an $8 billion annual "structural deficit," and here we are after four-plus years of rapid government growth with a deficit of … $14.5 billion. You know you've lost some fiscal discipline cred when tax-happy L.A. Times columnist George Skelton points out that "California's governor—like many state governors—has more control over spending than does a president."
Wha happen? Well, Schwarzenegger "learned" that things in Sacramento weren't as he expected, and, well, he's changed his mind about stuff. From a conversation with the L.A. Times editorial board:
Term limits, originally I felt very strongly that it was the greatest thing ever done. Because I despised the idea of guys being so locked in and safe in their positions, staying up in Sacramento and doing their deals and all this stuff. You need fresh blood coming in all the time.
Now I've been there for four years and I say to myself, "Oh my God, this is a disaster." And I see the special interests and those lobbyists up there are so much more sophisticated and so much more advanced and so much more experienced than the politicians up there. So who is this really helping? I'm seeing firsthand that the people up there I finally got used to working with now will be kicked out because of term limits. And who's it going to hurt? It's going to hurt the state, because we have to start all over again, getting acquainted with these new people coming in. So the turnover's too fast, especially the way it's done, where you're limited to six years in the house… John Burton, whom I'd just gotten used to working with; he used to bring me delicious Austrian coffee and apfelstrudel. Now he's gone. The new guys come in and the lobbyists and the experts are there with all their money; it's just awful.
So I learned a lot of things where I felt one way before I went into office, and then I get in and I learn things are not quite this way and I've changed. This is why, you know, people call it flip-flopping. I don't mind. I'd rather be flip-flopping when I see something that's the wrong idea than get stuck with it and live with it and make the same mistakes and stuff like that. So every so often the reality is that it's better to let people stay. Not to throw out term limits, but just to let people stay a little bit. So the change that is there [in Proposition 93], where someone can stay in the Assembly the whole time or the Senate the whole time. Is fine. I tried to tie it together with redistricting. But I don't really want to be against it just because it didn't include redistricting. I want this change.
Arnold has tried and tried to push through much-needed redistricting reforms, but has gotten nowhere. He tied it up with extending term limits in order to finally make it palatable to legislators, but even that fell through. Well, at least the governor is still entertaining:
Evan Halper: In Redding someone asked you about a bill you signed to ban a particular weapon, and then mentioned another weapon you're fond of. You said you went shooting with your kids, and said it's a good weapon to have in your home. Do you own weapons? Do you keep them in your home?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Yeah. You can imagine with all the movies I've done; I keep everything that I use in the movies. I have around 20 swords, from samurai swords to broadswords; and axes and spears and everything from the Conan movies. I have any kind of outfit, including my pregnant outfit, you know from the movie Junior, and all the appliances they used to make me look pregnant. All the guns, the Uzis, machine guns, shotguns, pistols, revolvers. And remember all the law enforcement people I've played, how many military people I've played, and all the things. And the Terminator, with the gun that you with one hand cock and spin. All those things I have.
Jim Newton: All in your home?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: No no, not all in my home.
Jim Newton: I was going to say, I'm not gonna stop by your house!
Arnold Schwarzenegger: No they're stored away.
Lisa Richardson: Aren't they fake?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: There's no fakes, no.
Robert Greene: So they're in firing condition?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: They're in firing condition. Not the machine guns. There are federal standards, before it even gets to the movie set.
Tim Cavanaugh: So wait, did you actually kill James Earl Jones at the end of Conan?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Oh yeah, you saw it happen. What do you think, it's fake?
reason on Schwarzenegger here.