August 07, 2003

Annoying Arnold

James Lileks and Roger L. Simon are kinda sorta in the Arnold Schwarzenegger for Governor of California camp. Of which I have been suspicious.

Do we really need more goofball celebrities in charge? I love the Terminator movies. They're great action flicks which at certain moments transcend themselves. But I thought Ronald Reagan, Sonny Bono, and Jesse Ventura were enough.

Arnold is apparently a liberal Republican, one of those guys who could go either way but chose the GOP for whatever reason. Fine then, he's probably like my dad with bigger muscles.

I've been in the sorta anti-Arnold camp for a while, even though I don't live in California and mostly couldn't care less. But then I find out that Rush Limbaugh is bloviating hysterically that Arnold isn't conservative. God forbid he's a moderate. Maybe even a closet liberal!

So it turns out he's the type of guy who'll annoy Rush Limbaugh and the Europeans?

Well, shit then. Go Arnold!

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 7, 2003 11:28 PM

It should be pointed out that by having a chief executive that is not beholden to special interests and is likely re-electable on his own merits, California could actually get less screwed than it currently is. Additionally, it is hard to concieve of anybody making California more screwed than it is. He's not anti-gay, he's not anti-abortion, and he is absolutely impervious to charges of racism. (He really is Austrian, and is entirely self-made.) The delusionally Afrocentric can hardly call him a Nazi when they are entrenched anti-Zionists. He is a walking paradigm shift, and generally a rude comeuppance to those who have forgotten that politics is the art of the possible.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at August 7, 2003 11:43 PM

You're kidding, right? California is facing real problems. What do they think happens? Perhaps they'll want somebody with a brain in their head to lead them when the garbage is stinking in the streets and the police won't pick up the phone after they've been robbed.

Ah-nold is the answer?!? see here

Posted by: Dan at August 7, 2003 11:45 PM


I'm not kidding, but I'm not serious either. Hence the tone of the post.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 7, 2003 11:56 PM

I'm an East Coasty and I absolutely LOVE California politics! It is without a doubt the greatest show on earth. You don't like Arnold? You can always choose Gary Coleman, or how about Gallagher? Larry Flynt anyone?

It's a great show to watch as long as you can watch it from far, far away.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at August 8, 2003 12:49 AM

Michael -- Despite the popularity of the meme, there is literally no evidence I'm aware of that Arnold's candidacy annoys Europeans. It's a cute theory, but I will chalk it up to confirmation bias until I see one shred of proof.

Posted by: Matt Welch at August 8, 2003 01:45 AM

Well, what exactly is wrong with an actor running for office? There's a reason that any citizen (in theory) can run for elected office (with the exception of the presidency) in this country. Remember, government of, by, and for the people? If anything, professional politicians should be banned from running for office because they clearly undermine the originating concept of a civilian government of the citizenry by creating a distinct politician-class. Not that I'm advocating such a ban, but seriously, think about it.

Posted by: grs at August 8, 2003 06:42 AM

I remember several years ago seeing Arnold on a talk show where he was making suggestions for the California school system's dollar-strapped physical fitness program to revamp its exercise program. He was giving a demonstration of how you could have a very good exercise program without all of the fancy equipment the teachers were so hot to have and his bottom line was "it doesn't take dollars, it takes work". I'm not sure if such a practical approach to problems will ever fly in that state, but it could be interesting to watch someone with that mindset battle it out.


Posted by: Ron at August 8, 2003 06:44 AM

Patrick, they're already spewing about his father's Nazi past. Well, for someone who didn't bother attending his father's funeral, I'd say his break with his father is pretty clear.

As for his qualification... Gray Davis touts his qualification during his 1998 election, 2 terms as Lt. Governor, many many years in government service, and we're in this mess (all the while Democrats controls both house).

Forget him being a body builder. Forget him being a foreign movie actor. Check out his financial portfolio, and you have someone who know more about money than Gray Davis will ever know.

Posted by: BigFire at August 8, 2003 07:53 AM


If having an impressive portfolio is what it takes to be governor, then vote for Larry Flynt, he is a very successful businessman with genuine accomplishments.

Posted by: ttam at August 8, 2003 09:21 AM

The reason people say Europe hates Arnold is because he is quoted as saying this:

I come from Austria, a socialistic country. There you can hear 18-year-olds talking about their pension. But me, I wanted more. I wanted to be the best. Individualism like that is incompatible with socialism. I felt I had to come to America, where the government wasn't always breathing down your neck or standing on your shoes.

Maybe Europe loves Arnold, who knows. But you can see why the question arises.

Simply put, Arnold is a right-libertarian. As am I. (I might say I'm actually a utilitarian, but I think that's generally understood today.)

I hope Arnold influences the GOP to the better. We'll see. He apparently did very poorly in an interview with Matt Lauer today, showing his notable and potentially fatal political inexperience, and it was just announced that Bill Simon is again running for governor, showing the wagon is not as strong as Arnold may have hoped.

I wish Arnold the best. I truly do. Having only heard his platform superficially, he seems to believes just about everything I do. If the rumors are correct, I've never seen a candidate who holds my views more perfectly.

Unfortunately, he doesn't have the political experience, and it's extremely easy for someone like that to drive off a cliff to their political death. He hasn't had the pride knocked out of him after years of fighting and compromising. He hasn't learned the art of the soundbite. He doesn't know how to negotiate with hundreds of legislators at once. I'm equally optimistic and pessimistic. We'll see.

Maybe in 20 years, we'll have a group of people who call themselves Schwarzenegger Republicans. That would be a victory in itself.

Posted by: Hovig John Heghinian at August 8, 2003 09:21 AM

I don't buy the "annoy the Europeans" line at all. In Britain, at least, ten-to-one it has the total opposite effect: it will amuse them greatly and re-affirm their conviction that americans are shallow dipshits who will swallow anything that comes out of Hollywood. Their knowledge of, and interest in California politics is about as astute as your average Californian's knowledge of, and interest in, the politics of Fife.

As a test, substitute "California" for "America" and "Other States" for "Europeans": the results should be equivalent.

Posted by: Hoodie Craw at August 8, 2003 09:29 AM

It's a mystery to me why anybody would even want the job right now. I don't understand why the Republicans didn't just let us fester under Davis for another three years--as long as they avoided nominating another right-wing idiot like Bill Simon, the GOP candidate would have been a shoo-in in '06. Now they're looking to install a GOP governer at one of the worst economic points in the state's history. I guess they're hoping that the economy is already turning around, and that the new governor can ride it to greatness.

The really, really big operative myth here is that people seem to think that the governor has a lot of control over the state's economy. It's as though they think Gray Davis accidentally set his coffee mug on the "Recession" button and now refuses to take it off just out of spite.

Blame for California's economic woes can be spread pretty far and wide, the number one cause being the burst of the dot-com/IT spending bubble, but also including national and international economic downturns, and how badly we got screwed (and yes we sure did) by electricity deregulation.

The only thing I can justifiably pin on Davis is that he made no attempt during the boom years to put any of that money away. Then again, neither did the Democrats controlling the legislature--and before anybody gets their GOP panties in a bunch, rest assured that had the Republicans been in control during those years they would have spent the money on tax cuts, and we'd still be broke today.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at August 8, 2003 09:39 AM

"If having an impressive portfolio is what it takes to be governor, then vote for Larry Flynt, he is a very successful businessman with genuine accomplishments."

And if quippy, dismissive comments earned political points, the Democrats would still be in control of both Houses of Congress and the White House.

Posted by: Roark at August 8, 2003 09:56 AM

Watching Arnie yesterday, he imparts a degree of trust that no politician has ever EVER matched. In his announcement press conference he was asked about environmental concerns, his answer:

"I've always been environment-friendly and I will fight for the environment. Nothing to worry about that."

His political enemies will seek to make hay out of that. But unlike practically every other politician who's made a statement like that, Arnie is different. No politician could just say "Nothing to worry" and expect two-thirds of the audience to respond by actually not worrying.

I watched Dianne Feinstein doing her best to slyly discredit Arnie. But the language that she uses doesn't work on real people. Like most pols, it's all big words, a furrowed brow, a schoolmarmish attitude: all this stuff is important, it's all best left to us in the ivory tower. Compared to Arnie, her stuff sounded like "blah blah blah blah."

Watched Susan "Carol Channing" Estrich moan about how this is simply not how it's done and she knows how it's done and you're supposed to make a prepared announcement speech with a news release and -- BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH

The electorate is going to take all that moaning whining negativity and reject it flat out. Arnie is going to win this thing.

Posted by: Undertoad at August 8, 2003 10:14 AM

"Watched Susan "Carol Channing" Estrich moan about how this is simply not how it's done and she knows how it's done and you're supposed to make a prepared announcement speech with a news release and -- BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH

The electorate is going to take all that moaning whining negativity and reject it flat out. Arnie is going to win this thing."

I'll call you on that, Undertoad, and raise you one: I don't think the public is even going to notice. As I blog today, I think this election is substantially over.

Posted by: Roger L. Simon at August 8, 2003 11:15 AM

OT but it's my blogiversary.

Posted by: Yehudit at August 8, 2003 11:17 AM


I like him because he has a funny accent and he played a barbarian well. I like him because he reminds me of my grandfather in his burly yet jovial demeanor. I like him because he already has plenty of money... as he said.

Mostly I would recommend him for this job based upon this simple fact: his current success is no accident.

I was into body building in highschool and Arnie was quite a role model. So I looked into his personal history and I was quite impressed with his ability to set a course, follow it, and meet his goal. He came "off the boat" with nothing and said he was going to "make it" in America. He set clear goals for himself, physicaly, socially, and economicaly. And he has met each one. He wanted to be the best body builder in the world and he won Mr. Universe. He wanted to be a successfull actor and he became The Terminator. He wanted to be accepted at the highest ranks of American social society and he married a Kennedy. His last goal was to make it in American politics... and if he could become President I believe he would.

So, is that a good enough reason to elect him?

On the other hand...

Arnold is a successfull immigrant... as such he will have little personal empathy for immigrants who are not as driven, lucky, and successfull. He will have even less empathy for native-born Americans who dont want to be "successfull" in the same way he has been, those who just want to work at a decent job, have an nice house, marry a loyal woman, and raise kids who are not monsters. So, I think he might lack some political compassion.

Then there is the "athlete syndrome"... Arnie was a bodybuilder and a very successfull actor, he has come to share the Kobie Byrant, Magic Johnson, Julius Irving, Larry Bird thing... where they take the sexual favors of women for granted. I watched a video taken of Arnie unwares were he was supposed to be rehersing a scene with a female actress, he pawed her so much I felt like I was watching a rape even though they were full dressed. It was horrible, especially since Arnie was still one of my heroes when I saw that. Does this kind of sexual/social disfunction matter (functionaly, as far as the job goes) to someone running for a political office? You decide.

But I must say that I agree with Roger. When I saw this announced the other night I proclaimed the election over. Arnold will crush his enemies, drive them before him, and hear the lamentations of der wemen.

Posted by: sblafren at August 8, 2003 11:56 AM

Christopher Luebcke,

It is worth noting that California screwed itself over. The ISO structure was approved unanimously by the California State Legislature. I commend this article to your use: It accurately covers the theft your incompetant politicians invited upon us all. Gray Davis is substantially responsible for this failure to seek competent oversight. Please keep in mind that the political failure your politicians created damaged everybody around them; the aluminum industry in the Northwest was killed by that failure, for instance.

I hope that you find that article edifying and that you look at some of the other articles here:

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at August 8, 2003 01:08 PM

"He hasn't learned the art of the soundbite."

I'd say that's a feature, not a bug.

"He doesn't know how to negotiate with hundreds of legislators at once."

Perhaps. But what he may know how to do--and the indications are good--is frame the debate(s) publicly and drag a lot of the hidden political infighting out into the open. Make them 'show their cards' as it were. Another feature.

Posted by: Stephen at August 8, 2003 01:31 PM

Re: ttam

My comment is mostly on Gray Davis being a professional politician. As such, he hardly ever have to use his own money. Schwarzenegger and his various real estate dealings is done mostly with his own money. Compare the difference.

Posted by: BigFire at August 8, 2003 01:33 PM

Inviting theft through incompetence is not the same as theft. Punishable, yes, but it doesn't excuse the larger crime.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at August 8, 2003 01:42 PM

Christopher, this is Davis we're talking about. For all we know, he was probably paid to ignore it. He sold us out in so many other ways.
I'd vote for Cthulu over Davis. Arnold is a very easy choice.

Posted by: Dishman at August 8, 2003 03:25 PM

"I'd vote for Cthulu over Davis. Arnold is a very easy choice."

HEY! Don't 'dis Cthulhu! He'd run, but he's more concerned with national issues.

Posted by: Evil Otto at August 9, 2003 04:55 AM

"Inviting theft through incompetence is not the same as theft. Punishable, yes, but it doesn't excuse the larger crime."

In many instances that distinction might be true, but in this particular one, it is not. The politicians took money to look the other way and allow the power companies to establish the rules. Conspiracy to indulge kleptomania is indistinguishable from kleptomania itself because the legislature as the elected representatives had the public trust reposed in them. They allowed their campaign contributors to betray that trust without dissent or meaningful debate. In comparison, the most rapacious marketing goon at Microsoft is a pillar of integrity and civic virtue.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at August 9, 2003 11:31 AM

Hoodie Craw's right that Schwarzenegger's winning would amuse Europeans, reaffirming their belief that all Americans are stupid and shallow. But that in itself pisses Europeans off, because, while it's obvious to us clever Europeans that Americans are fuckwits politically, the bloody Yanks just refuse to get the message, no matter how often we tell them, and an obvious joke candidate like Arnold ends up with real power. Aaaaaargh!

I love Arnold. Good luck to him. He's a great businessman, which is just what California needs. And he embodies one of those simple things that is so great about the USA: the immigrant made good. I believe that he'll win, he'll do well in office, and he'll have a huge influence over the Republican Party as a whole. His winning will go down in history as a great day in American politics.

Or I could be wrong.

Posted by: Squander Two at August 11, 2003 03:18 AM


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