Though I’m not as enthusiastic as Ezra, I’ve gotta say that Warren Beatty’s speech the other day was very impressive. Not only are his ideas right on, but it’s full of long-overdue jabs at Arnold Schwarzenegger :
I’ve never enjoyed being publicly negative about actors in public office like Ronald Reagan, who I really liked, or Sonny Bono or George Murphy because I’ve always had a real soft spot for actors even if they are right wing.
And although I’ve never known Arnold very well I’ve always liked him.
. . .
But now that he’s a politician, I say, why not rise to the higher levels of that calling, rather than denigrate your fellow politicians, calling them “stooges” and “girly men” and “losers.” They give years of their lives to public service in the legislature of what is intended to be a representative form of government, where public policy on decisions affecting 38 million people’s lives are adequately discussed not a government by ballot initiatives financed by huge advertising monies that bypass a careful examination of a bill by the people’s elected representatives.
Can’t we accept that devotion to the building of the body politic is more complex and a little more sensitive than devotion to body-building?
Does that make me a “girly man” ?
. . .
Of course he can joke that I want to defend the nurses because I’m closer to needing one, and the elderly because I’m nearer to being one, and the blind because I can’t see past tax-and-spend liberalism. And then I can joke that he should defend the teachers because he has so much to learn, but finally it’s not funny.
Government is not a joke, and despite what he’s said, it’s not a movie.
That’s what ultimately drives me nuts about Arnold. His arrogance towards his fellow candidates for governor alongside his avoidance of every public forum in which he’d be pressed to articulate and defend his ideas pretty much confirmed the notion that most bullies are really cowards on the inside. He’s a political one-hit wonder who sailed into office on a string of cliches about “change” and “leadership” without saying a damn thing. He was a gimmicky candidate who’s now being forced to realize that you can’t quote movie lines to get yourself out of every problem.
Even if he was doing a good job as governor, I’d still resent the hell out of him. The way he ran his campaign was an insult to everyone who takes public service seriously. It was the ultimate example of style trumping substance and it makes me embarrassed for my adopted state. When he says “I’ll be back” during a stump speech, he might as well be saying “Where’s The Beef?”, yet the people of California were dumb enough to fall for it. Here’s hoping that Arnold’s latest troubles are the result of people finally seeing through his “charm” and not part of the natural ebb and flow of politics.
As far as Warren Beatty is concerned, I’m not a big fan of famous people graduating into government service, but then again it’s always the conservative celebrities who end up running for office. That said, I do see the appeal in trying to, as Ezra put it, “even up the star power and refocus the election on ideology”. Let’s take Arnie’s celebrity crap off the table and get back to business, shall we?
UPDATE : By the way, there’s no better metaphor for Schwarzenegger’s political career than this inane photo-op (via BoingBoing). In order to tout his ideas for funding transportation projects, he sent a crew to create a pothole so he could fill it up in front of the press. Hell, I thought Pete Wilson and Jeff Skilling were the only people who created fake problems that Arnold would pretend to fix.
1 : Not that Arnold was ever a decent actor. At least his peers like Stallone and Bruce Willis branch out every once in a while and do serious work. The only real difference between Arnold and someone like Jean Claude Van Damme is that Arnie had a much better agent.
2 : By the way, am I the only one who noticed that some of Arnold’s “best” lines were lifted from the Hans & Franz SNL sketches? How lame do you have to be to steal from people who were making fun of you?
3 : Except for the “Super Bowl of Debates”. Yawn.
4 : Schwarzenegger, Reagan, Sonny Bono, Fred Thompson, Clint Eastwood, Gopher from The Love Boat….the closest we have is Jerry Springer, but he was a politician before he got famous.