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Mark Steyn: The Gubernator?
The Sunday Telegraph (U.K.) ^ | 08/10/03 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 08/09/2003 5:43:47 PM PDT by Pokey78

Profile: Arnold Schwarzenegger

The best scene in The Last Action Hero (1993) was a clip from Laurence Olivier's Hamlet. Arnold Schwarzenegger, edited into the 1948 monochrome and taking dear Larry's role as the eponymous ditherer, starts off the soliloquy, cuts it short and opens fire on the castle, all the while puffing on his stogie. As the unseen narrator puts it, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark - and Hamlet is takin' out the trash!"

A week ago, it looked as if the roles had been reversed. The conventional wisdom was that Ah-nuld wasn't man enough for California politics. Instead of saying "Hasta la vista, Gray Davis!" and blowing the punk out of the Governor's office, he was nancying around in doublet and hose whimpering, "To be or not to be, that is the question". He'd been scared off. His Kennedy wife didn't want him to run, and, besides, too many people had too much dirt on too many of the sexual perks your big-time Hollywood star avails himself of over the years. He was going to wiggle out, no doubt promising that "Ah'll be back, maybe next election, or the one after, if my wife will let me."

And so not for the first time the experts underestimated Schwarzenegger. On Wednesday's Tonight Show, he announced that he was in. Something is rotten in the State of California - and Arnie is takin' out the trash! Collyvurnja, here he comes!

Whether or not he'll win, nobody can say for certain: the rules of the recall election are as whimsical as a sudden-death gameshow round. The standard line is that it's a "circus", but pre-Arnie it was more of a freak show, filled by various unsatisfying midgets: the pornographer Larry Flynt; the diminutive ex-sitcom-player Gary Coleman; a bounty hunter from Sacramento; the extravagantly-endowed self-proclaimed "Love Goddess" Angelyne (she's a one-woman circus, if only in the sense that she has a big top); and the wannabe celebrity, obscure populist and rumoured fourth Gabor sister Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington, best remembered in Britain (if at all) as Bernard Levin's ex-squeeze. But no matter how many little clowns pour out of the miniature car, it is the entry of the muscleman that has made this a circus worth seeing.

Whatever happens, he has played his opening hand at a crowded table brilliantly. Arnold has wanted to be Governor of California for two decades, but October 7 represents his best shot. For one thing, there's no primary election in a recall campaign. In a normal election, Arnie wouldn't stand a chance of getting his watered-down "moderate Republicanism" past the death-before-electability crowd who dominate GOP primaries in California. He's unsound on almost everything that matters to them. On the other hand, that supposedly puts him closer to the average voter. As the commentator Andrew Sullivan put it, "Yay! A pro-gay, pro-choice, hard-ass Republican!"

Yet you don't have to be anti-abortion or unenthusiastic about gay marriage to question the hardness of Arnold's ass. When candidates run as "fiscally conservative but socially liberal", the former invariably buckles under the attendant costs of the latter. Arnold is married to Maria Shriver - a niece of Jack, Bobby and Ted Kennedy, and a daughter of George McGovern's running mate - and, as in many mixed marriages, the Democrat seems to have the upper hand ideologically.

But even a RINO - Republican In Name Only - can drive Democrats crazy, and, in desperation to find an attack angle, Dem operatives are currently testing three themes:

1. Arnold is a Nazi.

Okay, Arnold's not a Nazi. He was born in the Austrian town of Thal, but not until 1947, and thus was technically unable to join the Nazi Party no matter how much he may have wanted to. But he certainly has family ties to the Nazis. His wife's grandfather, Joe Kennedy, was one of America's most prominent Nazi sympathisers.

Oh, wait. That's not the Nazi family ties the Dems had in mind? No, as Katie Couric put it on NBC's Today Show, "He's the son of a Nazi Party member. He said he was prejudiced, before overcoming those feelings by working with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles, and the dean of the centre said an investigation of Schwarzenegger's late father, conducted at the actor's request, found no evidence of war crimes."

Sorry, folks, you'll have to do better than that. The more you bring up the "son of a Nazi" line, the more you remind voters of what Arnold is: an immigrant who escaped and transcended his past. You can't saddle a man who chose to be American with the baggage he left behind in the old country.

2. Arnold is unqualified.

Yes, he's not a professional politician. And that's a disadvantage? The professional politicians are the ones who got California into this mess. This is a "throw the bum out" election, so the successful challenger will be the one who looks least like the bum. Gray Davis has been on the public payroll his entire adult life: he represents the full-time political class. Arnold represents the other California: entrepreneurial energy, wit and invention, the California that understands that if Hollywood and Silicon Valley were run by "qualified" people like Davis we'd still be watching flickering silents and you'd need union-approved quill-feathers to send e-mail.

Arnold made his first business investment at 19, using savings from his bodybuilding contests to buy a failed Munich gym. He turned it around. The first really big money he made in America in the early 1970s came when he and a fellow bodybuilder started a bricklaying business. He's one of a very few actors who was a millionaire before he ever acted. And, if you think it's no big deal being the world's highest-paid movie star, you try it - with a guttural German accent so thick you can barely do dialogue and a body frame so large you're too goofy for playing love scenes. From his gym to his mail-order company to his masonry business to his shopping malls, Schwarzenegger has shown a consistent knack for exploiting the fullest financial value from even his most modest successes. Who would you say best embodies the spirit of California? The guy who has made all his own money? Or the fellows who've squandered everybody else's?

3. Arnold's had too many women.

Arnold has been married to Maria Shriver for 17 human years, which in celebrity years is the equivalent of a Diamond Jubilee. Any dirt Democrats dig up is going to have to be nuclear. When you've been a popular celebrity for 20 years, the only way you can be damaged is with something that's dramatically inconsistent with what the public thinks it knows about you. "Womanising" won't cut it, not for a movie star. If it's oral sex with a starlet in his trailer, the public will shrug. If it's beating up a pre-op transsexual hooker, you're in business. But in a two-month campaign anyone who wants to take him down is going to have to move fast.

Ever since he became a US citizen in 1983, Arnold has taken care, in his marriage and business interests, to remain politically viable. This is his window of opportunity: he's the man who seems most in tune with the moment. Is it likely that Californians have got themselves all whipped up with the Recall Fever just to install another rent-a-hack like Lieutenant-Governor Cruz Bustamante? Or will they figure, what the hell, let's go all the way and take a flyer on Arnie? Everything about this race - from the compressed schedule to the multiple candidates - favours him. "It's the most difficult decision I've made in my entire life, except the one I made in 1978 when I decided to get a bikini wax," he told NBC's Jay Leno, stealing Arianna Huffington's best line. Arnold waxes, everybody else wanes. Hasta la vista, Grayby.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: California
KEYWORDS: calgov2002; marksteyn; marksteynlist; schwarzenegger
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To: Kevin Curry
We are all sinners. God never made a perfect human being. What was it Jesus said about casting the first stone?
81 posted on 08/09/2003 9:45:20 PM PDT by Wolfstar (And an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.)
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To: Wolfstar
You know what they say: "It's better to stay silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt".

I don't know what it is with some people...

The only thing I hope is that maybe they just get carried away by the anonimity of posting and are not really that way in real life.
82 posted on 08/09/2003 9:47:43 PM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: PhiKapMom
Although we are strangers to one another, PhiKapMom, permit me to sincerely say I love you for your dedication, decency and hard work on this forum. Seeing a ping from you always lifts my spirits.
83 posted on 08/09/2003 9:48:56 PM PDT by Wolfstar (And an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.)
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Speaking of blockheads...
84 posted on 08/09/2003 9:51:40 PM PDT by Howlin (If we don't post, will he exist?)
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BTW, there are those out here in the rest of the country that believe Florida is one big joke, too, in case you haven't noticed it.
85 posted on 08/09/2003 9:52:44 PM PDT by Howlin (If we don't post, will he exist?)
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To: diotima
Hey, I live there!

See there, at least one redeeming value. :-)

86 posted on 08/09/2003 9:53:43 PM PDT by Howlin (If we don't post, will he exist?)
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To: Kevin Curry
Here's why Arnie is good for the CA Gop, he can pull in money, something the CA GOP has been pathetic at over the last few years. It's a win-win for the CA GOP , it's sad that people can't see that.
87 posted on 08/09/2003 9:54:37 PM PDT by John Lenin
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What you said.
88 posted on 08/09/2003 9:55:14 PM PDT by Fred Mertz
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I want to see him as governor because I think Californians are collectively a corrupted, Godless, selfish, contemptuous bunch who need to learn some hard lessons in life. I think a blockheaded, half-nazi, pro-death, liberal, pro-homo hollyweird enviro is absolutely perfect for them.

Thanks for outing yourself A+Bert!

89 posted on 08/09/2003 9:55:19 PM PDT by onyx (Name an honest democrat? I can't either!)
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To: ambrose
"Michiavelli was "realistic."

And he is still quoted after all these centuries because he was a dunce?
90 posted on 08/09/2003 9:56:52 PM PDT by billhilly (No monument has been erected to a cynic)
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To: Pokey78
91 posted on 08/09/2003 9:57:26 PM PDT by GOPJ
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To: Wolfstar
2) becoming a magnet for disgruntled Conservatives and others.

Whoever do you mean? *blink, blink*

92 posted on 08/09/2003 9:58:03 PM PDT by Howlin (If we don't post, will he exist?)
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To: Pokey78
Caught the last little bit of Steyn on Hewitt the other day--boy was I mad to have missed most of it. He's got a great voice (very sexy) and a great mind (very sexy too).
93 posted on 08/09/2003 9:58:36 PM PDT by beaversmom (Celebrating May 5th and all days with an American Flag)
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To: PhiKapMom
It isn't widely known, but Perot was on Hillary Clinton's health care task force and was, in fact, slated to get the information processing piece of that pie if the legislation succeeded. There is no question whatsoever that what Perot did in '92 had everything to do with getting Clinton elected to suit his (Perot's) business purposes, and nothing whatsoever about anything else. He tepidly ran again in '96 more out of ego and the fact that he was still caught up in that monster of his own making, the "Reform" Party. By 2000, although nobody cared anymore, he endorsed George W. at a time when it looked like Dubya was going to win a big victory. Perot probably did so in the hope that Dubya would not seek any kind of regulatory or government-contract revenge on Perot's companies.
94 posted on 08/09/2003 9:58:55 PM PDT by Wolfstar (And an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.)
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To: Wolfstar
That was really sweet and a neat way to end my evening on here! Yours is the last post I am reading for the night -- going to get off here feeling great!

Thanks much!
95 posted on 08/09/2003 10:00:10 PM PDT by PhiKapMom (Bush Cheney '04 - VICTORY IN '04 -- $4 for '04 -
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To: Wolfstar
the most venomous, hate-filled drivel I've read in a very long time.

You must not have been reading his posts this week. UGH.

96 posted on 08/09/2003 10:00:13 PM PDT by Howlin (If we don't post, will he exist?)
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To: FairOpinion
Real scary thought if they are that way in real life. Pity their poor kids.
97 posted on 08/09/2003 10:01:27 PM PDT by Wolfstar (And an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.)
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To: Wolfstar
You're right! They're more concerned with who they perceive as RINOS than they are with demoRATS! Hard to argue with logic like that!
98 posted on 08/09/2003 10:01:31 PM PDT by onyx (Name an honest democrat? I can't either!)
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To: Pokey78
Arnold would make a good Governor.

Perhaps his Degree in Economics will come in handy.......


99 posted on 08/09/2003 10:02:12 PM PDT by redrock (The Security of Our Nation does NOT reside in restricting Freedom...)
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To: Howlin
This just in: the Marquis de Sade, long believed dead, emerged from the basement of Anton LaVey's home in San Franciso yesterday and filed for governor on the Republican ticket. When asked by a reporter whether the Marquis' more notorious and peculiar pecadilloes might make it difficult for some Republicans to vote for him, one angry FReeper replied, "Who cares? He knows how to pinch a penney and will whip the state budget into shape--you just watch! Fundamental morality has no place in modern politics unless your name is Bill Clinton. Pro-gay? Pro-abortion? Anti-gun rights? No problem."
100 posted on 08/09/2003 10:03:27 PM PDT by Kevin Curry (Put Justice Janice Rogers Brown on the Supreme Court--NOW)
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