First reviews are in

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After Schwarzenegger left, a giddy Jay Leno -- who connected on at least a dozen good jokes in his monologue -- continued his roll: "That was a big announcement...right up there with 'I did not have sex with that woman.'"

I thought Arnold was funny and exploited the media moment well. Jesse Walker at Hit and Run gives Arnold ("the only man ever to succeed in Hollywood with a surname consisting of two racial slurs") a so-so review:

Here's the short version of his appearance on The Tonight Show:

1. Arnold is for "the people."

2. Arnold is against "the special interests."

3. Arnold thinks "the politicians" should do "their jobs."

At one point he slipped and said something negative about "the unions." This drew dead silence from the crowd, and he quickly returned to criticizing special interests in vaguer terms. This was the Jay Leno show, after all; better to keep things bland. Could he win? Yeah, he could. But it'll be tough.

The Bee's Daniel Weintraub, who had already jumped on the Schwarzenegger-is-the-populist-choice bandwagon, says the fun begins now. So relax and enjoy.

Arnold has the potential to bring hundreds of thousands of voters to the polls who otherwise would not have participated in this election. While he is running as a Republican, I think he will get most of the independent vote and virtually all of the moderate Republican vote while making serious inroads among Democrats, even if a well known Democrat runs. He will leave perhaps 30 to 40 percent of the Republican vote, the core conservatives, to be split among whatever combination of Issa, Simon and McClintock remain in the race.

Mickey Kaus says Arnold won the free-media race big on Wednesday, and he poses three questions:


1) Did Arnold Schwarzenegger fake Sen. Dianne Feinstein out of the race?

2) Is it now actually in Schwarzenegger's interest that Gov. Gray Davis win his suit and be allowed on the "replacement" ballot?

3) Is it now in Davis' interest that Sen. Dianne Feinstein enter the race?

Hank Stuever reaches for an Internet Age metaphor in the WashPost Style section:

Every day in California now begins with Control-Alt-Delete. Fresh starts, fresh anarchy, fresh fed-upness...

There are characters you dislike. (The namby-pamby governor. The conniving car-alarm magnate. The poliguru pundit. The former mayor.) There are characters you root for, sometimes just because you like the flukiness of their ambition. (The pornographer. The Terminator. The punk rocker. The bounty hunter. The former Republican congressman who is known mostly for coming out of the closet late in life.) There are characters who are going to get voted off so fast. Mostly there are just lots and lots of characters.

Peter Nicholas in the L.A. Times writes in a news analysis that for Gray Davis, the day's events, well, ruined his day.

Davis faces a charismatic movie star who is prepared to spend "whatever it takes" to win and likely to benefit from large amounts of free publicity.

"The danger for Davis is much more dramatic now than it was before," said Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. "He's not running against a candidate, he's running against a phenomenon."

Last edited at 11:12 a.m.


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