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Dikeman's sincerity


F. Scott Fitzgerald once asserted, and I paraphrase, that a sign of intelligence is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in the mind at the same time. If that's true, then I guess IQ, or the lack thereof, is the reason some of us have a hard time with the looking-glass logic of recall politics.

Personally, though, I'm with Dianne Feinstein and I don't think she's dumb. The way to have fought the Republican-financed drive to oust Gray Davis was for Democrats to have circled the wagons around their leader and said, "We're not going to play this game." No replacement candidates, just a single, clear message to the public: This recall is wrong. Period. Anyone who puts themselves forward as a replacement candidate is undermining democratic principles -- not to mention the gubernatorial election of 2002.

If the Dems had taken that route, the serious replacement candidates -- including Arnold Schwarzenegger -- might have been seen for what they were: would-be usurpers. There would have been no Cruz Bustamante, whose candidacy told voters that even at the top levels of his own administration Davis could not command loyalty. And Davis would have had a much better chance at convincing voters that a bigger issue than his job performance was at stake.

Instead, recall-think took over. Sure, we Democrats are opposed to the recall, but we'd better put forward a viable replacement candidate just in case. Never mind that Bustamante's claim that he was opposed to the recall rang as hollow as a bell in a cavernous church. And never mind that in putting forth Bustamante, Dems were legitimizing the real threat: Schwarzenegger.

Recall-think is at work here in Humboldt County in the Pacific Lumber-financed drive to oust the man who is suing them for fraud: District Attorney Paul Gallegos. The Bustamante in this drama is Deputy District Attorney Worth Dikeman, who is skillfully -- some would say brazenly -- using the two-faced logic of recall politics to his advantage.

Dikeman says he is opposed to the recall and that he'll vote against it. Yet he has accepted the endorsements of law enforcement groups that early on came out in favor of the recall. Dikeman says he's loyal to Gallegos. Yet he has offered little in the way of a defense of the job his boss his doing. Dikeman says he doesn't want to comment on the pending Pacific Lumber case for fear that doing so might jeopardize its chances in court. Yet he refuses to come out and say he supports it.

As Journal reporter Hank Sims makes clear in a news analysis of the situation (see IN THE NEWS), Dikeman is proving himself to be a shrewd operator in the brave new world of recall politics. But Humboldt County voters deserve more than shrewdness. They deserve honesty. If Dikeman, a longtime Terry Farmer loyalist, thinks Gallegos should be ousted, he should say so. Either that, or at every opportunity he should be hammering home the message that the recall is wrong. You can only have it both ways in recall land if the public -- and the press -- let you.




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