|Sorry guys, I'm getting a kick out of this. No more on Arnold, I promise. |
This piece by Henry Stern, the clown prince of NYC municipal government and former Parks Commissioner is worth reading - as in Shakespeare, the clown is often the wisest of all of the fools.
Only In America-
A Populist Uprising.
Terminator Wins Big,
What Will He Do Now?
October 9, 2003
Arnold Schwarzenegger's election as Governor of California is one of those remarkable events which distinguish the United States from countries around the world. Although he is not the first entertainer to be elected a Governor, Ronald Reagan and Jesse Ventura come to mind, he combines attributes of both, the physical mastery of Ventura the wrestler, and the screen artistry of Reagan the actor.
His large plurality in a field of 135 indicates rejection of both the Democrat, who resembles a minor villain in a Schwarzenegger movie, and the right-wing Republican, whose views are out of sync with his state. Hollywood could not have provided a better supporting cast of candidates, spinmeisters, gropees, and authorities on latter-day supporters of the defunct Third Reich. An objective documentarian, neither Michael Moore nor Oliver Stone, should capture this campaign on celluloid.
The vote indicates enormous public dissatisfaction with politics as usual. Schwarzenegger is seen as a moderate Republican, pro-choice and pro-gay, who did not emphasize party identification. While Mayor Bloomberg's persona could be that of an anti-hero outsider, Schwarzenegger has semi-heroic stature from his film roles, and it will be fascinating to watch him deal with lesser mortals who do have real power. In the movies, he simply mowed them down, but in Sacramento, he will have to deal with the wily nomenklatura, who may pejoratively be pictured as pampered, privileged, powerful plutocrats who perennially pick the pockets of the public for personal and proprietary purposes.
The world is fascinated by this election, because billions of people may know the Terminator from his films. It is fresh proof that America is a democracy, how else could an immigrant weightlifter turned movie star who has never been in politics be elected by a huge margin as Governor of this country's most populous state. Our jaded European allies, whom we periodically rescue from killing each other, will probably see this as a demonstration of America's instability or gullibility. I see it as an example of the strength of our democracy.
The recall is a warning to both parties to pay attention to the people's concerns rather than the special interests, whether they are Indian tribes running casinos, corporations with dishonest financial statements, manipulators of the electric power market, polluters of the air and water, monopoly public service unions, professions which exclude qualified applicants; the plethora of artificial advantages that, over the years, have rewarded those who hire lobbyists to ply gerrymandered legislators with gifts and favors.
The beneficiaries of the system will cling to their unjust rewards, and with a complaisant legislature, are likely to keep them. Although, the people have spoken emphatically, I doubt there will be voluntary reform. I see the insiders clinging to the chandeliers of the Capitol to retain the spending programs that plunged California last year into a prospective $38 billion deficit, highest of any state in any year.
It is possible that even the mighty Terminator will be ensnared by the tentacles of privilege. I hope he does not lose the capacity to charm his adversaries, to frighten them, or if necessary to smite them, legally. "Hasta la vista, baby" is an appropriate slogan, since he has already terminated Gray Davis' governorship and Cruz Bustamante's ambitions.
How will he handle the big guys, people whose names are obscure, but who hold the legislators of the Golden State firmly in the palms of their hands, by the scruff of their necks, or by whatever body parts indicate mastery and submission.
Congratulations, Arnold, you have given us a great performance. Americans are rooting for your success more strongly than they did for the characters you played. You can use all the help you can get from honest, decent Californians of all parties. I trust that you ask for and receive that wide public cooperation and support that you will need. And I hope that you have the ability and intellect to do in reality what you have done in the world of the imaginary.
All the best.
Henry J. Stern
New York Civic
520 Eighth Avenue, Room 2205
New York, NY 10018