I was surpised by one thing in Arnold's speech, although perhaps I shouldn't have been. That was his willingness to define the Republican party and explain why he's in it. A lot of people expected him to continue to be a party of one, but he tied himself pretty firmly to the Republican party. Arnold is a Republican, albeit a rather libertarian one. And the truth be told, this does NOT put him out on a limb--there is a very large, very organized libertarian wing of the party, whose leaders and cadres are a major part of the party coalition. And these folks are staying in the party because they believe that, their disagreements with the party on social issues not withstanding, that the Democrats are still their most important enemy. They care about abortion and gay right, but not that much--and they believe, again not without reason, that on the social issues the social conservatives are not likely to get any traction any time soon. So there's no reason to beat their breasts and try to start big platform fights on abortion, since they're willing to spot their fellow party-members those issues, and focus on where they agree.
Big question--did anyone at the Democratic party use their speech to state as clearly as Arnold did, what the basic reasons were why the public ought to support their party? Not that I remember. Why is this? I think it is because the Democratic message is stale, and the party lacks the big, positive issues that make party leaders WANT to go out and sell the public on the party message. As a Democrat, I find this incredibly depressing.