Friday, August 08, 2003

I like Ahnold!

No, I don't think he should be the next governor of California, but I do like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It strikes me as highly hypocritical to see all these Republicans swooning before the mighty Terminator as if he were the second coming of Ronald Reagan.

As Joe Conason points out at Salon:

"Weren't the Republicans just telling us the other day that celebrities should keep their mouths shut about politics? Didn't they blast the Dixie Chicks, Janeane Garofalo, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon and every other artist who spoke out about the war in Iraq? Wasn't the argument that fame doesn't confer experience, wisdom or competence?"

If Arnold had announced plans to run as a Democrat, without changing anything else about his policies or positions, these same folks would find plenty of things about him to criticize.

Here is a run down of some of Arnold's "contradictions" from an article at National Review Online:

“Schwarzenegger seems a bundle of contradictions: an outspoken Republican who's married to Democratic stalwart Sen. Ted Kennedy's niece, Maria Shriver (and the daughter of George McGovern's running mate!). A man who proclaims his life story to be a triumph of individual will, yet often reaches out to people less successful than he. An actor who has regularly been roughed up by critics, yet won a Golden Globe Award for Best Acting debut. A dedicated "jock" who spent years in the weight room, but also has a master of business administration degree. A brutally tough business negotiator who's given away millions to charity. An aggressive bachelor in his younger days who also helped advance women's bodybuilding. A "health nut" who has also taken massive doses of steroids. A man whose father was literally a Nazi in occupied Austria, but whose career has been immeasurably helped by Jewish promoters and producers and calls himself an "honorary Jew." A top-notch athlete whose first charitable work was with handicapped children.

“Undoubtedly his mother-in-law, Eunice, President Kennedy's younger sister, who has devoted her life to the handicapped and underprivileged, influenced him.
"Schwarzenegger faced up to his father's Nazi past, reaching out to the Jewish community and donating his salary (more than $5 million) from Terminator 2 to the Holocaust Museum. Since he met Shriver, he's been the weight-lifting coach for the Special Olympics. He's also a leading sponsor of the Inner City Games. His first independent foray in California politics was his championing of Proposition 49 in 2002 to create after-school programs for kids.

"Schwarzenegger's politics also changed as he aged. A Reagan Republican and a staunch conservative in the '80s, he moderated his politics in the last decade. Schwarzenegger says he is pro-choice, supports gay rights, and endorses "reasonable" gun controls and environmental regulation.

"During the Clinton impeachment drama, Schwarzenegger said he was "embarrassed" by Ken Starr's investigation of the president's private life. While his fellow national Republicans appear to be tilting right, he's followed the recent leftward drift of California politics. He has ended up being a lot closer to Clinton than Newt Gingrich."

Yeah, I'd say he has some potential. Even if he is a Republican, I'd rather see someone like Arnold in office rather than divisive ideologues like Newt Gingrich or Tom Delay.

But I think it is a shame that Arnold has chosen this outrageous recall shenanigan as the vehicle for his entry into politics. Even if he does win, he will face the prospect of having the legitimacy of his election constantly questioned and he will face a flood of revenge petition drives calling for his own ouster by recall. After all, it only takes 12 percent!!! of the people who voted in the last election to sign a petition to force another recall election. It is outrageous and the only reason my conservative Republican friends are willing to go along with this is because Gov. Gray Davis has a D next to his name. If this were happening to a Republican governor, they would be just as outraged as I am, if not more so.

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