Schwarzenegger and California: What went wrong

Optimism for the future abounded in the wake of the historic recall; even skeptics were willing to give Schwarzenegger a shot. He had unprecedented goodwill, a blazingly positive attitude and arrived as an outsider who said he would not be beholden to special interests…

But on the job, he often didn’t have the patience to get the changes he wanted. He regularly changed course on major initiatives when he encountered roadblocks. He backed down from his massive proposal to restructure government, the California Performance Review, even though it projected savings of $32 billion over five years. Democrats howled, and the governor feared they might block his other efforts.

“I had very high hopes for him. Maybe it’s a case of my expectations and people’s expectations were too high in the first place,” said Lou Cannon, the author of five books about former President Ronald Reagan, who served two terms as California governor…

He pledged to “blow up the boxes” of government, but his structural reforms have been modest. The boards and commissions he railed against remain largely intact, and he continued the political legacy of rewarding termed-out lawmakers by naming them to six-figure jobs on obscure boards that meet infrequently.