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by KEITH EASTHOUSE
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 --
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