Altered States (Of The State)
The State of the State, in any year, is a political and media spectacle. Hours and hours of preparation (and perspiration) go into an event that lasts only about half an hour. And the post-speech analysis lasts long after that.
So... with all due respect to the major substance of the speech and the challenges that lie ahead for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature (details of which are in two reports on The California Report, tomorrow morning and on tomorrow's newsmagazine), here's some of what happened today that didn't make the cut:
* The Briefing: The tone of Team Arnold in getting his proposal out to the public was markedly different this year. There were numerous pre-speech "leaks" to the media, and on Thursday afternoon, about 65 reporters gathered for a background briefing on the speech (For those not in the know, that means you can't quote anyone who spoke by name, and all of the discussion could not be reported until after the governor actually delivered the speech). The administration gave a similar background briefing in 2004, but was relatively tight-lipped in 2005.
And the briefing was... thorough... lasting more than 75 minutes, with detailed handouts totaling some 35 pages. So thorough, in fact, that it seems to have eclipsed what leading lawmakers were told about the proposal. "We got a very cursory briefing," said Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland). One legislative staffer was even seen sneaking peeks at a reporter's packet of documents during the speech.
* The Guests: Many governors reference special guests seated next to the First Lady in the gallery. There were guests this year, but they didn't get the gubernatorial mention. The official list included a soldier who served in Iraq, the wife of another soldier still there, and Erin Runnion, whose daughter Samantha was kidnapped and murdered in southern California in 2002.
Other guests... well, let's just say some of them seemed unusual for a GOP chief executive: former Governor Gray Davis and Sharon Davis, former Governor Jerry Brown and wife Anne Gust, and United Farm Workers of America president Arturo Rodriguez.
Also in attendance in the galley: George Schultz, former Reagan cabinet member (whose wife, Charlotte Maillard Schultz, is the governor's protocol chief) and Jake Steinfeld, chair of the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and founder of the "Body By Jake" franchise. Many of these VIPs, and others, could be seen in the swanky after-speech party hosted in the Capitol rotunda and in a tent on the West Steps.
Team Arnold, The Next Generation: The VIP party must not have been very exciting for two young ladies who ended up in the "spin tent" on the other side of the Capitol-- the outside location where reporters flocked to lawmakers and pundits for post-speech reaction. No one seemed to have remember seeing the two young ladies ever on their own-- they've only appeared at events with their mother, Maria.. They were Katherine and Christina Schwarzenegger. The two teenagers pretty much stayed together and seemed amused by the "spin tent."
They did not, to my knowledge, participate in any spin... nor did they seem to notice the man who walked past them at one point-- the man who wants Dad's job, state Treasurer Phil Angelides.
[FRIDAY UPDATE TO LAST ITEM: A call from Democratic operative Bob Mulholland says that, in fact, the governor's daughters did stop by and chat with Angelides. It seems everyone can get along after all, eh?]