FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Arnold and Wesley

Now that Wesley Clark has thrown his General’s cap into the Ringling Brothers Circus of Democratic Presidential aspirants, starry-eyed white males (including the self-anointed anti-stupid white male, Michael Moore) are abuzz. Not unlike the cheering section that has surrounded the California Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, these celebrity groupies hope that showy style can trump serious substance. Of course, in Clark’s defense his educational pedigree (first in his class at West Point and a Rhodes Scholar) suggests a man of some intellectual profundity, certainly plumbing depths that would give Arnold the bends. While seemingly opposites on gray and grave matters, Arnold and Wesley share a variety of positions and postures that reflect they are two sides of the same coin, a coin whose currency is confounded by a political con job of cultism and macho leadership.

To demonstrate their political correctness in the cultural wars, both men claim to be pro-choice and anti-gun. Of course, Arnold’s self-proclaimed feminist sensibility is massively contradicted by his misogynistic antics during his body-building era, from groping to grabbing to allegedly gang-banging. Trying to bury this blighted past with the rationalization that “boys will be boys” hardly constitutes a defense of indefensible and boorish behavior. For Wesley’s part as NATO commander of the war in the Balkans, his “boys with toys” past will also face legitimate concerns over his use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium shells against a civilian population. For men who claim some sensitivity to woman’s issues and gun violence they both seem steeped in machismo, whether of the muscle-bound or militaristic kind.

As far as their preparation for holding political office, both appear as unsullied saviors of a corrupt political process. Trying to position themselves above the mundane fray, their seeming lack of political involvement (including in Arnold’s case failing to vote in many elections) makes them prime candidates for political operatives (in Arnold’s case, former California Governor Wilson’s coterie of country-club Republicans and in Wesley’s case, the down-home Clinton opportunists) who cynically promote them as men of political integrity. Coming from Hollywood and the Pentagon, those paragons of principled practice, Arnold and Wesley obviously never conducted self-serving campaigns filled with the usual back-stabbing and one-upsmanship.

What does it say about an American electorate, or to be more precise, about the white male electorate, that Arnold and Wesley can become such instant political heroes? The infusion of celebrity and superficial images into politics owes much to a televisual society where surfaces are everything. In addition, white men, in particular, as social critics such as James William Gibson and Susan Faludi contend, are attracted by the warrior psyche and ornamental style that dominate American popular culture. Finally, in an era when Viagra promises a quick-fix to impotence and the desire for intimacy, is it any wonder that quick-fix candidates with nothing more to commend them than their image should garner attention and even adulation?

The candidacies of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Wesley Clark ultimately underscore the bankruptcy of a political system that is in deep denial about the fundamental dilemmas plaguing the American landscape. From persistent class, racial, gender, and sexual inequities to the addiction to militarism and imperialism, the United States is fraying at the seams. Neither Arnold nor Wesley nor a host of other wannabee pop cult icons is capable of addressing these persistent problems. Their only function is to convince an already compromised electorate that they can be winners in this fixed and failed political game.

FRAN SHOR teaches at Wayne State University and is a peace and justice activist. He can be reached at: aa2439@wayne.edu

 

More articles by:

Fran Shor is a Michigan-based retired teacher, author, and political activist.  

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail