Who's Really Screwing America
#70: Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Dumbinator
(Warning: This section contains bad puns based on every goddamned Schwarzenegger movie title, role or trademark expression.)
A specter haunts America--the specter of a Schwarzenegger presidential bid. And one haunts California: the certainty of a Schwarzenegger gubernatorial re-election bid in 2006. To be sure, the Governator's odds for either office lengthened in 2005, as his popularity dropped faster than a 300-pound barbell from the arms of a girlie-man. But that Ahnuld managed to become even a one-terminator governator is a Raw Deal (1986). Arnold and Ronald (Reagan) are of course not just anagrams but analogs, if not Twins (1988): Both are towering role models for all who aspire to high office with no qualifications except primitive showbiz skills, a macho persona, a conservative-populist posture, plenty of pesos and, above all, sheer celebrity.
As much as the spectacle of a wrestler elected governor of Minnesota may have helped turn American politics into a circus or freak show, the Governatorship of California is a far more likely launching pad for a presidential Running Man (1987). Even one with foreignness issues, accent issues, Hitler issues, women issues, gay issues, Enron issues, other conflict-of-interest issues, steroid-use issues, makeup issues ("what's he using--wax?" wrote one blogger), heart-valve-surgery issues, abortion-issue issues (he's pro-choice) and good old-fashioned failure-as-governor issues. (As for the foreignness issue, in 2003 Senator Orrin Hatch [R-UT] proposed a constitutional amendment to allow naturalized Austrian-Americans to run for President.)
After running on the True Lies promise that he would not "take any money from anybody" because "I have plenty of money myself" and because "the people should make the decisions rather than special interests," Ahnuld proceeded over the next two years "to collect campaign contributions from private interests at a greater rate than any politician in California history, including Gray Davis, whom he criticized on that very issue," amassing around $57 million from real estate, financial, entertainment, technology, retail and agribusiness interests.
Only months before the election, Ahnuld told Entertainment Weekly about his inspiration for a scene during the filming of Terminator 3: "I saw this toilet bowl.... How many times do you get away with this--to take a woman, grab her upside down, and bury her face in a toilet bowl?" That apparently endeared him to the California Republican Women's Caucus, which endorsed him, saying he "supports family." But more important than his behavior on movie sets, wrote columnist Robert Scheer, is whether Schwarzenegger, who "appears [to] delight in the extreme violence he peddles" in his films, makes any connection between that and the violence of our society.
#49: The Wall Street Journal Editors
The Wall Street Journal is like Pravda.... You don't want to underestimate the importance of the Leninist model.... They don't tolerate dissent. --Conservative political scientist John Mearsheimer
On the day I happen to be writing this, the paper and its online editorial page, OpinionJournal.com, offered the following: An editorial blaming the rioting by Muslim youth in France on the country's "high taxes...powerful public-sector unions...GM-like benefits in pensions, early retirement, working hours and vacations, sick- and maternity leave," and my favorites, "job security" and "the debilitating effects of unemployment insurance."
The editorial warned "above all, those who want America to emulate the French social model by mandating health and other benefits." Health benefits = mayhem in the streets! A piece by deputy editor Daniel Henninger blaming the rioting on the resistance of "French elites...to such modernizing forces as the Doha [free] trade round, agro-bioengineering and fast food"--i.e., their insufficient love of globalized, capitalist "creative destruction."
"[F]or nearly 400 years," wrote Henninger, America has been "high on change. Lucky us. In Europe, every village and town has roots that run 1,000 or more years deep." Horrors! And all those French nuclear warheads just going to waste.... The text of Karl Rove (#3)'s speech to the Federalist Society (#25) the night before, on the theme of "judicial imperialism." (Lead example: the Supreme Court banning the death penalty for persons under 18.) An editorial lambasting successful ballot initiatives in that week's elections--measures that, for example, discouraged military recruiting in public schools and colleges and enacted strict gun-control laws in San Francisco. The next day brought an OpinionJournal editorial arguing that "A ban on aggressive interrogation would amount to unilateral disarmament in the war on terror." It began by suggesting that critics of the use of "torture" (Journal's quote marks) in US military prisons are encouraging Osama bin Laden with "signs of flagging US will to fight the war on terror." It went on to attack Republican Senator and former POW John McCain's amendment (which the Senate passed 90-9) banning "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of prisoners (which the editorial called "stressful interrogation techniques") and to defend the Bush Administration's denial of prisoner-of-war status and Geneva protections to terror suspects.