August 26, 2003

Ah-nuld for Guvanah

“Makes Louisiana look darn enlightening.” –Archie Manning, during a Saints game, on the California gubernatorial race

Writing about the ongoing California recall and election is, at this point, unbearable. I mean, what hasn’t already been said about it? From the honest political analyses down to the trite “Total Recall” puns, this story has already been played to death. But what else can be expected from the best political entertainment this country has had since Nixon? Check out this gubernatorial race! It comes at an odd time for Californians, thanks to the strictly non-partisan and entirely non-political effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis by deep-pocketed Republicans.

To be fair, it’s worth noting that a recall begun by a partisan hack with a hankering for the Sacramento seat (Darrell Issa) would have had the staying power of the movie “Gigli” if so many voters weren’t truly displeased with Davis. Some of this resentment reportedly stems from things other than the blame for the Enron power gouge that once left the state darker than the inside of George W. Bush’s head.

In short, the people of California have made it known that they want to seriously address the question of leadership. They want the governor to be a figure of stability, accountability and lots of other ’bilities. Someone they can trust with the workings of government that affect the course of everyday life.

Just who is the right person to fill these shoes? Why, Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course! Or perhaps Gary Coleman! Larry Flynt! Gallagher! The porn star who wants to tax breast implants! What, was Vanilla Ice busy?

Of all the candidates, Schwarzenegger has stood out as the frontrunner. No one seems the least bit frightened about this. It’s been said repeatedly throughout our nation’s history that the voters get the leaders they deserve; if this is the case with Ah-nuld, then we’re all due for some termination.

Arnold’s candidacy—and the recall as a whole—represents everything the United States holds dear in the political sphere; we want a macho actor who will stand before the cameras and utter catchphrases to answer pressing problems. We want our last action hero!

And just who is “we?” In the past, “we” might have referred to the majority or plurality of voters. But, just as in 2000, the Republicans have an agenda that is just too precious to waste time on getting consent. Issa and his crew have wrought a monster of a ticket with so many candidates that the winner may get in with only 10 percent of the vote. Ten percent! If half of all registered voters go to the polls (big if), that’s just five percent of all Californians choosing the next leader of the union’s most populous state. “We,” indeed.

Further showing this recall as a Republican power grab is the fact that Schwarzenegger is to the left of Davis on many of the few social issues he has bothered to discuss. But despite his liberal leanings, Arnie is still popular with Republicans because he meets party criteria: he’s a famous actor like Reagan and a vigilante type who equates might with right. As an added bonus, he is a product of 1940s Austria. Can’t get much better than that!

Orrin Hatch likes Arnie so much that the senator is pressing for new legislation allowing foreign-born U.S. citizens of 20 years to run for high public office. How enlightened! I’m betting on Osama bin Laden in 2024. This recall election will be the gift that keeps on giving.

Hey, you know what they say; desperate times call for desperate leadership.

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