A Hollywood makeover?
This summer has seen the emergence of a kinder, gentler Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor has noticeably toned down his rhetoric and begun focusing almost exclusively on issues other than his hard-edged "year of reform" initiatives headed for the fall ballot.
You've heard the criticism that Schwarzenegger has "attacked" teachers? Compare that with the statement the governor's office issued today in response to improved test scores among California students:
"I want to thank the many excellent California teachers who went the extra mile to help their students meet and overcome the challenges they faced in taking these exams. Their professionalism and commitment to their students is reflected in these improved scores. We must do everything we can to reward these hard-working, dedicated teachers and give them the tools they need to be successful."
Schwarzenegger has also tried to maximize the good will engendered by new regulations adopted by the administration in response the the heat-related deaths this summer of farmworkers and others who labor in the sun. His last public event before leaving on vacation at an undisclosed, out-of-state location was a trip to a Central Valley ranch to visit with farmworkers. Photos and videos were prominently displayed on his official Web site all the time he was gone.
With any hope of a negotiated settlement to the coming ballot-box battle with Democrats now dead, his political foes seem to be daring him to go back on the partisan warpath. In declaring negotiations hopeless this morning, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata said public opinion against the governor "has really hardened below the Mendoza Line." That's a baseball reference that indicates the point at which a major league player must keep his batting average to avoid being shipped to the minors.