Charles Darwin never knew Arnold Schwarzenegger. If he had, he may have reversed some of his more daring theories on evolution. By all accounts, Schwarzenegger is an engaging fellow; congenial, upbeat and fiercely ambitious. His appearance at the Republican Convention last night may have put him squarely in the “cat-bird seat” as far as potential candidates for the 2008 election. To say he rose to the occasion is probably an understatement. The crowd loved him and was on its feet at every grand banality.
“I always knew America was the place for me. In school, when the teacher would talk about America, I would daydream about coming here. I would daydream about living here. I would sit there and watch for hours American movies transfixed by my heroes like John Wayne. Everything about America seemed so big to me, so open, so possible.” (The speech demonstrated a keen understanding of the “politics of flattery”.)
“As a kid I saw the socialist country that Austria became after the Soviets left. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I love Austria, and I love the Austrian people.”
(Uh, oh, socialism, Karl Marx.repression, gulags, national health care, very bad.)
“I finally arrived here in 1968. What a special day it was. I remember I arrived here with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of determination, full of desire.” (Yes, yes; Horatio Alger, “up by your bootstraps”, no government handouts.)
“The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the Nixon-Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend of mine who spoke German and English translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which I had just left.”
“But then I heard Nixon speak. Then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military.
“Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.
“I said to my friend, I said, “What party is he?”
“My friend said, “He’s a Republican.”
“I said, “Then I am a Republican.”
“And I have been a Republican ever since. (Richard Nixon? “a breath of fresh air?…. Tricky-Dicky was his “role model”?…A stunned silence falls over the crowd)
“Now, many of you out there tonight are Republican like me in your hearts and in your beliefs. Maybe you’re from Guatemala. Maybe you’re from the Philippines. Maybe you’re from Europe or the Ivory Coast. Maybe you live in Ohio, Pennsylvania or New Mexico. And maybe — you don’t agree with this party on every single issue. I say to you tonight that I believe that’s not only OK, but that’s what’s great about this country. Here we can respectfully disagree and still be patriotic…still be American and still be good Republicans!” (aside: Of course you’ll never get into our schools or board rooms, but it’s true, we need the votes of brown people, too. Perhaps, you can get a job washing dishes at the club for minimum wage. After all we are a “Big Tent”; accommodating middle aged white men of all types and sizes.)
Then, of course, Arnold’s presentation of the long litany of “How to know you are a Republican”
“If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope for democracy, then you are a Republican.”
(We tried that in Iraq…it’s not working.)
“And, ladies and gentlemen, if you believe that we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican.
“Now, there’s another way you can tell you’re a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people and faith in the U.S. economy. And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don’t be economic girlie-men.”
The crowed roared its approval. Forgive me, but it seems a bit odd though for a guy who spent the better part of his adult life “gadding about” in a thong in front crowds of adoring males, to be “dissing” the masculinity of people who don’t buy his free market mumbo-jumbo. Isn’t there a saying about glass houses?
“The U.S. economy remains the envy of the world. We have the highest economic growth of any of the world’s major industrialized nations. Don’t you remember the pessimism of 20 years ago, when the critics said Japan and Germany are overtaking the U.S.? Ridiculous.
“Now, they say that India and China are overtaking us. Don’t you believe it. We may hit a few bumps, but America always moves ahead. That’s what Americans do.
“We move prosperity ahead.” (“Prosperity?”…This is where Dick Cheney soiled himself.) Then, wrap it up with a few perfunctory words about “The Dear Leader” George W and his Manichean struggle with “scourge of terrorism”.
“He (Bush) knows you don’t reason with terrorists. You defeat them. He knows you can’t reason with people blinded by hate. You see, they hate the power of the individual. They hate the progress of women. They hate the religious freedom of others. And they hate the liberating breeze of democracy. (Hmmmm…let’s see…Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti?…no liberating breeze so far but maybe soon.Maybe in the next four years?)
“We are still the lamp lighting the world, especially those who struggle. No matter in what labor camp they slave, no matter in what injustice they’re trapped, they hear our call. They see our light. And they feel the pull of our freedom.” Who writes this stuff? Has anyone told Arnold about Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo? Seriously, is there anyone who’s still buying this “We are the lamp lighting the world” crap?
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, America is back — back from the attack on our homeland, back from the attack on our economy, and back from the attack on our way of life. We’re back because of the perseverance, character and leadership of the 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush.”
Yes, back to the business of targeting defenseless countries and stealing their resources back to locking up their people and attacking their shrines back to spreading our “iron fisted” economic model to the four corners of the earth.
America is back, and Arnold is leading the charge.
Schwarzenegger “The Anointed”
So, this is the next “empty suit” they are setting up to be President in 2008; a serial-groping simpleton, devoid of any conviction beyond an exaggerated belief in his own self worth. A man who has already affixed the “debtors shackle” to California taxpayers to the tune of $15 billion in bonds.
The political opportunists that propel wax figures like Schwarzenegger onto the public stage, forcing voters to decide between one of two well-coifed manikins; have raised cynicism into a fine art.
Democracy’s choices are growing slimmer all the time. A “body building primate” adds nothing to those options.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org