Political Hay

Bringing Up the Riordan

What is the point of a recall that would replace a tax-and-spend Democrat with a tax-and-spend Republican?

By 7.30.03

"Riordan May Be GOP's Best Chance to Replace Davis." This appears not in the commentary section of Tuesday's Los Angeles Times but in its front news pages. As usual, the Times is urging the Republicans to run a de facto Democrat. As usual, the Times equates the political welfare of the GOP with its editors' liberal preferences.

What is the point of a recall that would replace a tax-and-spend Democrat with a tax-and-spend Republican? Or, even more absurdly, a recall that would replace Davis with one of his more generous donors? Riordan, it bears repeating, played a role in foisting Davis on the state. He donated $20,000 to Davis's runs, kicking in $12,500 as recently as March of 2000.

As former Davis adviser Garry South crowed in 2001, "Dick Riordan is one of our major donors. We've enjoyed his money over the years. I only hope that if he runs for governor he doesn't stop giving us money."

The recall is a response to a state budget crisis created by Democrats that Riordan worked to elect. Free-spending radical John Burton, a state senator, received Riordan's endorsement, as did the outrageous Maxine Waters. Riordan's donations extend to a Who's Who of tax-and-spend Democrats in state history. Former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, a Great Society liberal, dipped into Riordan's wallet for $500,000 during his various mayoral and gubernatorial runs.

Riordan has not only given to the pols responsible for the budget crisis, but loudly supported the statist policies that led to it. Contrary to popular myth, Riordan is not a fiscal conservative. He has long supported tax hikes and big government. In a letter to the editor published in the California Political Review in 1991, he rebuked Dianne Feinstein and Pete Wilson for not pushing higher taxes. "I would like to say that Californians have been consuming far more than they have been producing the last 15 to 20 years. This 'undertaxing' is reflected in the state's deteriorating infrastructure -- particularly in education."

Riordan badmouthed the anti-tax Proposition 13: "The Prop. 13 Syndrome continued into the 1990 election. Neither Feinstein nor Wilson would dare come out for new taxes, especially not for a reversal of Prop. 13. The 'pull up the ladder' (I've got mine) attitude was particularly evident in the proposition dealing with expenditures and new taxes (even on alcohol)…We must be willing to increase the tax dollars for schools. Pulling up the ladders will not be enough to protect us from the crime, and the ultimate need for more tax dollars to take care of increasing social problems."

More taxes, more government -- this was Riordan's advice for an already overtaxed, government-bloated state. The letter could have been written by a protégé of Karl Marx with its descent into socialist bathos: "As the gap between the haves (the vast majority of the voters) and the have-nots continues to grow, we can expect the number of homeless, welfare recipients, drug addicts, and criminals to increase dramatically."

A Riordan run would make the recall an empty exercise, the substitution of one status-quo statist for another. The recall is already on the verge of farce, even without the prospect of Republicans recalling Davis with one of his old backers. According to the Drudge Report, Bill Clinton, whom Riordan once called "the greatest leader in the free world," is planning to campaign for Davis during the recall election (as noted earlier by the Prowler). The most corrupt president in recent times will try and save our most corrupt governor.

Meanwhile, Davis, who turned the capitol into a cash register, even asking the president of the California Teachers' Association for a $1 million donation under its dome, is making frantic appeals to other lawbreakers besides his impeached pal. In perhaps his most craven bell-banging save-me-from-a-recall gesture yet, Davis has told Latino leaders he will sign a bill authorizing driver's licenses for illegal aliens. After 9/11, Davis resisted signing this insane legislation. But now that he needs Hispanic ward bosses to bus leftists to the polls, he is ready to sign the bill "in a heartbeat."

After 9/11 Davis cited public safety as a reason for not signing the legislation. Now he cites public safety as a reason for signing it. You see, driver's licenses for illegal aliens will guarantee that they are road-worthy and properly insured. It is important that they receive state certification before driving off to break federal workplace laws.

A governor whose priority during a $38-billion deficit crisis is licensing the illegal aliens who contribute to it deserves a recall. But can't the Republicans at least back a replacement who is not one of his donors?

George Neumayr, a writer in Southern California, contributes frequently to The American Spectator and The American Prowler.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.