Now that I’ve brought myself to watch a few seconds of Arnold’s speech at the recent Republican group grope, and taking a look at this cover story in Wired magazine, I figure I’m missing something. From what I saw of his convention speech, his delivery was, as usual, loud and tone deaf; his text was as rhetorically graceful as a tank driving through a wall. His physical appearance is becoming kind of scary: When he works his muscular mandibles to extrude his odd English stylings and retread “Saturday Night Live” punchlines, he resembles the Jaws character in James Bond, like he’d like to pump you up, then chomp you up. And if human flesh isn’t available, you could probably start feeding him tree stumps. The governor who chips and mulches.
Meantime, Wired dips its toe into the murky waters of mainstream politics and declares Arnold “The New American Idol.” That declaration is based on an embarrassing inch-deep analysis of Schwarzenegger’s 10 months in office summed up thus:
“Schwarzenegger has turned out to be a surprisingly effective governor. He’s eased (though not broken) the political logjam in Sacramento, navigated ably through the biggest state deficit ever, and established himself as a potent force on the national political stage. His popularity rating among California voters hovered through summer in the 60s, near the all-time highs for a Golden State governor and more than 40 points above the end-of-term numbers for the man he replaced, Gray Davis.”
He’s surprisingly effective — like our semi-elected president, he gets high marks based on near-zero expectations. He’s “eased the logjam” in the state capital, though the nature of the jam is never explored or explained. Navigated ably through the deficit. Not hardly: the genius solution he’s pushed on the state is to turn the deficit into future debt, and not even that “let the grandchildren pay” solution has come close to clearing up the deficit. He’s established himself as a potent force on the national political stage. Yeah, he’s a star, no denying that. Potent force? We’ll see. And he’s more popular by far than Gray Davis was. Guess what? So are Saddam Hussein and the Son of Sam.
Arnold’s big-time revolutionary moves so far, Wired says, include naming a Democrat to be the state environment secretary (Bush has a liberal Democrat in his cabinet, so he too must be a revolutionary) and that he’s working on a way to eliminate gerrymandering through an amendment to the state Constitution. OK — that’s worth a try, though Wired, apparently innocent to the ways of the world and U.S. history, doesn’t raise the obvious suspicion that Arnold is really working on a way to break the Democratic majority in the Legislature and in California’s House delegation.
One glaring omission in its report on this miraculous new revolutionary politician — he rules from “the radical center,” the magazine says — is his fundraising. Just like his big hungry maws, this is kind of scary: the guy is reportedly raising something like $2 million a month, more money, faster, than any California politican ever. The money’s not coming from the little people, either: The secretary of state’s campaign finance reports show that The Austrian’s biggest contributors are all the insurance and energy and other big companies that just want to make life better for all of us.