the talking dog

August 8, 2003, Pumping irony

TD-running mate Bruce Moomaw (the next Vice-President of the United States) sends in this piece on his putative new governor, favorite son of both Austria and California, Arnold Schwarzenegger (I'm trying to get Bruce himself to run in the recall; deadline is tomorrow at 6:00-- or its hasta la vista to Sacramento, baby).

The gist of the article is that Arnold has an unfortunate personal relationship with former Austrian President, U.N. Secretary General and WW II Nazi and Wehrmacht member and probable war criminal Kurt Waldheim. Indeed, Mr. Schwarzenegger even invited Waldheim to his wedding with Maria Shriver, although to be fair, the invitations were probably sent literally just before the allegations of Waldheim's war record became public. Although Arnold has done many good works for the Jewish community, has denounced Naziism, has never seriously been accused of anti-semitism (despite saying something stupid in Pumping Iron) and has been honored by LA's Simon Wiesenthal Center, among other things, apparently, he has failed to appropriately denounce (and I suppose, renounce) Mr. Waldheim, which many feel will be political death in a state that boasts not one but two Jewish senators, and a rather large-ish and prominent Jewish community, especially in the LA area. Ah, the irony--the candidate with views closest to those of most of the Jewish community has problems because of... World War II.

We'll see. I predict Arnold will prove to be a true politician-- if he seriously thinks he has a shot in California, will give up his political future in Austria and renounce his friend Waldheim unequivocally, in late September. Arnold previously described his position as "no win", but that's really only if he seriously insisted on having both a political future here and in Austria (his mother was married to a leading Austrial parliamentarian, and his late father was, ahem, a former Nazi party member). At this point, Arnold can't really have it both ways anymore(politically)-- I tend to agree that his denunciation of Mr. Waldheim will have to be fairly serious, or he cannot reasonably expect to be elected governor.

Interestingly, I actually think Arnold Schwarzenegger is (given that his friend former LA mayor Richard Riordan is not running) the most serious of the Republican candidates to announce. Darrell Issa is an ex-car thief-turned car alarm magnate turned Congressman, and a wild-man ideologue, who has paid for the recall. Despite this, I don't see him winning it. Bill Simon is, well, one of the few men who couldn't beat Gray Davis head to head (another hard-ass conservative ideologue). Schwarzenegger is a successful businessman and actor, has run a successful statewide ballot initiative (for after-school programs). Further, he holds political positions consistent with most Californians (though way out of touch with the national GOP these days): pro-choice, pro gay-rights, and fiscal conservative, to name just three areas. I think GOP national wants to see their darling Bill Simon take it-- winning something the dirty way when he couldn't win it the clean way. And that might happen. But...

Arnold would in many ways shake up the GOP apple cart: an independent wild- man at the helm of the nation's largest state, who has no need to carry water for GOP national because (1) he can't move up to President (you still have to be born a U.S. citizen and all), and (2) he's already fabulously rich and famous.

Well, its a shame this is happening at all-- an election was held last November, and Gray Davis won, even if no one likes him. Turning democracy into an (even more) arbitrary free-for-all is just not in anyone's interest (except, of course, win-at-any-cost ideologues, all of whom seem to be from the same party these days...)

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