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Acting Like A Politician, or…

Posted by Rick · August 7th, 2003 · No Comments

…Conan the Politico. (Apologies to Margo Lerwill.)

Another actor is set to enter politics.

Before anyone gets to thinking this is a “slam Arnold” note, let me state unequivocally that I like the big hunk. I even like some of his political viewpoints.

But there’s something troubling about a political environment where the actors are disproportionately represented by, well, actors.

Yet, it makes perfect sense for Arnie to enter the race for California governor. After all, it’s been some days since the last time we had an actor in office. (Interestingly, he was a Republican, too. Whatever happened to the much-touted and much-taunted left-wing Hollywood stereotype?)

The nice thing about having an actor run for political office is that even though we, the People, may get the shaft again, we’ll be entertained in the process. Nobody does sound bites better than Arnold and, like Groucho Marx, he’s “got a million of ’em.” Last night on Jay Leno, he didn’t disappoint us, either. Speaking of what was going to happen now to Gray Davis now that the Terminator has arrived, he said, “Hasta la vista, BAY-bee!”

To fans of the big guy (like myself), Conan’s Leno appearance was nothing short of nostalgic. Over the years, Schwarzenegger has developed a little polish as an actor; in his most recent movies, he doesn’t seem so much as if he’s acting the part of an actor. (No doubt it helps that he plays a machine.) But on Leno, even his trademark “hasta la vista” was reminescent of his style in Hercules in New York, Stay Hungry and The Villain.

Relax, Arnie! Like the last Big Guy before you said, among other things,

“Politics is just like show business. You have a hell of an opening, coast for a while, and then have a hell of a close.” – Ronald Reagan to aide Stuart Spencer, 1966

In reality, I hope Arnie doesn’t take that bit of advice from Reagan. One thing we don’t want while the state’s engine seems to be running downhill is someone who is willing to coast on down with it.

But if Arnie’s past is any indication, he’s not just an actor. What a lot of people don’t know is that before starring in his first movie, he had already made his first million dollars. In addition to being actor—and perhaps even some of his success as an actor depends upon this—Arnold Schwarzenegger is a successful businessman. And while he appears to embrace what’s good about the Republican philosophy, he is not devoid of a social conscience and a profound belief in the importance of education and—in juxtaposition to views once espoused by Reagan—he believes in the advancement of knowledge through pure research.

[Aside: Of Reagan, Margaret Thatcher once said, “Poor dear, there’s nothing between his ears,” while former Defense Secretary Clark Gifford described him as “an amiable dunce.” Reagan himself said, “I never knew anything above Cs.” He also asked, “Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?” without realizing that everything we have, we have because someone subsidized it, whether it was a Queen subsidizing a voyage across uncharted oceans or Kennedy pushing for funding NASA.]

And while he may be a Republican, we cannot forget that he married—and contrary to other famous marriages it appears to be working, or at least durable—a Kennedy. Can anyone seriously imagine Rumsfeld or Ridge being able to do that?

We can with some justification, therefore, hope that Schwarzenegger will pay some attention to these other words of Ronald Reagan, spoken to the graduating class of Eureka College in 1957:

We worry that perhaps someday you might not resist as strongly as we would if someone decides to tell you what you can read in a newspaper, or hear on the radio, or hear from a speaker’s platform, or what you can say or what you can think.


Due to our carelessness and apathy, a great many of our freedoms have been lost. It isn’t that an outside enemy has taken them.

For these are truly dangerous times we are living in and our fiscal crisis is not even as serious (although it is at least partly caused by) the fact that our government has taken a serious fascistic bent in order to preserve our freedoms.

If Schwarzenegger can terminate that, I’m all for him.

Categories: Politics-In-General


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