Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger,
I hear you're searching for a new lieutenant
governor. If I may be so bold, I can think of one Californian who is
the right fit for the job.
Now that Lt. Gov. John
Garamendi is vacating the office to take a seat in Congress, I know
you're considering smart politicians of both parties. But selecting a
proven leader would be a terrible mistake. Someone with real experience
in government would be frustrated by the utter powerlessness and
insignificance of the lieutenant governor's office.
I, on the
other hand, would be untroubled by that, since I've never worked in
government and have no real interest in doing so. The lieutenant
governor doesn't run much of anything, and neither have I. He does
preside over our state Senate sometimes and breaks ties; my experience
presiding over a Little League baseball team is a natural qualification
for that work.
And while some lieutenant governors have
compromised the sanctity of their office by using it to raise money and
run for other things, I have no campaigns in my future. Heck, I don't
even vote very often, though I do vote a bit more than Meg Whitman
(which, I guess, proves that I'm not gubernatorial material).
of all, my skill set dovetails with the only real duty of the
lieutenant governor: to wake up each morning, check that the governor
is still alive and go on about my business. Perfect! As a journalist
who has written about you since you first ran for office back in 2003,
I've been doing that professionally for six years. There'd be no need
for on-the-job training.
Now, you might ask, why do I want the
job? Well, as you may have heard, these are tough times, especially for
journalists. Since staff jobs at newspapers and magazines are drying
up, most of us have become free agents. Freelancing doesn't pay that
well, so almost every journalist I know is looking for a day job that
pays the bills, provides benefits and leaves plenty of time to write.
Put simply, the lieutenant governorship, which now pays $159,000 a
year, is a writer's dream gig. My current day job, as a think tank
fellow, is scheduled to end early next year, so the timing is right.
lieutenant governor, I would continue to maintain my blog, write
freelance pieces like this one and work on two different books about
California. If I could get even one of the books done by the time my
term ends in January 2011, I'd go down as the most productive
lieutenant governor in the history of the state.
Your other question probably is this: Why is it in your political interest to pick me? Here are four reasons:
I'll never upstage you. Remember
how, during your first term, Cruz Bustamante made his own speeches
right before your State of the State address each January? I'll never
do that. I'll show up -- if I must -- wearing my usual writing attire:
shorts, T-shirt and Angels cap. I will introduce you ("And now, Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger"), and then I'll retire to a quiet corner of the
Capitol where I can open up my laptop and get some writing done.
I'll behave myself when you're out of state.
The lieutenant governor is acting governor when the governor leaves
California. Over the decades, the occasional lieutenant has tried to
sign a bill or appoint someone. Now, I can't promise loyalty per se --
as a journalist, I reserve the right to rip you in print -- but my
writing schedule doesn't leave me time to do anything while you're
gone, though I might, just once and just for fun, issue a veto with a
coded message in it. I'm sure you'd understand.
I'm budget friendly. Yes,
I intend to accept the salary and benefits. But, since I intend to
perform no government duties (the lieutenant governor serves on some
commissions, but I'd skip those meetings), I would require no staff and
I give you much-needed leverage. As an
unpopular lame duck, you currently have very few ways to get the
Legislature and interest groups to do what you want. But with someone
as irresponsible as me as lieutenant governor, you could scare people
into action simply by threatening to quit and leave the state in my
So, governor, that leaves only one question: When do I start?