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Arnold, Arnold, Arnold…

Posted by Rick · September 12th, 2003 · No Comments

This is disturbing.

Until tonight, I thought there was a good chance I was voting for Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger. (Yes, my wife was horrified.)

Tonight, Ah-nuld is answering scripted questions (without a script, because they’re all memorized) at his “second town hall meeting.” Present in this relatively small audience, oddly enough, are all the leaders of education from the area of southern California from LA to San Diego, or so it seems. This coincidence is a little strange, nu? Kind of like pulling the hoods off 15 leaders of the Ku Klux Klan only to find that they’re all African-Americans.

And the questions: “Ah-nuld…” (yes, all politicians are now on a first-name basis with all citizens). “Ahhh-nuld…I’m the Director of…[insert important-sounding education department here]…and I can’t…[one or two second pause] help but appreciate all that you’ve done for us with your…[one or two second pause]…after…[pause]…uh, afterschoolprogram [all one word].”

So what’s the point of all that “[…]” and “pause” stuff?

It’s simple. I recognize someone reading a script when I hear it. Often, at my job as a Director of Information Systems, I get phone calls from people who say things like, “Yes, I’m looking for the person in charge of your computer purchases.” After my response of, “That would be me. I’m the Director of Information Systems,” the reply is (sometimes) “Yes. I received your card in the mail….” Now, waitaminute. Didn’t they just appear to be unsure who they were looking for? Are there actually cards that say, “person in charge of your computer purchases” instead of “Director of Information Systems” that you can send in by accident, without knowing you did it? I mean, she didn’t say, “I’m looking for the Directory of IS. Are you him?” (To which I could, of course, respond, “That all depends upon what the meaning of ‘IS’ is.”)

The speech occasionally varies, but the point is that I’ve gotten good at spotting “script readers.”

But tonight, in a group of people who appeared to be perhaps 1/100,000th the size of San Diego (or 1/1,000th the size of Poway, if that makes the math easier), the people who had the microphone (which is perhaps 1 out of every 50 people out of this small crowd there to see Ah-nuld), were a teacher, a principal, a superintendent of schools and one or two other educational folk. Two or three question-askers were not involved with schools, except that they had school-aged children. What are the odds of that? (Maaar-THA! Let’s go buy a lottery ticket!)

Here’s the deal: Avoid debates because your handlers are worried that you can’t speak extemporaneously. (Yes, Ah-nuld, that’s a real word.) Then, to counteract the complaints that you can’t speak extemporaneously, stage “town meetings” (having a section called “Old Town” doesn’t make a megalopolis a town—I’m sorry, San Diego) packed with (either) educational administrators or people who claim to be involved in education and make sure they memorize their lines. If only they could read them properly without terminating…each…phrase with…an un…nat…ural pause like…they were trying to remem…ber…their lines.

Yes, yes…the point: I know how to spot script readers. Ah-nuld’s audience…picks…are…readingscripts. (Yes, that’s all one word.)

And then, on top of that, he talked about how California is driving away businesses. (The story he told about it is the part that made me finally decide he lost my vote and caused me to get off the couch to write this.)

Here’s the story (somewhat paraphrased because I don’t have an eidetic memory; but substantially what he said):

I asked, “Why are we going to Canada to shoot Terminator III?” and they told me, “because it’s an $8 million difference.” So I sat down and I said, “I’m putting in $1.5 million.” And I turned to the Director and I said, “Now you put in $1.5 million.” And then I turned to all the department heads and I said, “I know you’re padding your budget. Shave something.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger on CSPAN I, September 12, 2003.

And, Ah-nuld said, “before it was all over, they made up more than the $8 million.” (Again, for those who may have seen the show and say, “He didn’t say that! He said, ‘Before it was finished, they shaved off $10 million!’ That proves you liberals lie!,” please remember that I said I was paraphrasing because I don’t have an eidetic memory. I challenge anyone to say that I have anything substantively incorrect about what I purport to quote here.) Then, if my ears heard right, he went on to point out that “where there’s a will there’s a way” and he had proved it and that’s why he should be Guv’ner Terminator!

Did I miss something?

So…California drove away these jobs…. Where was the movie filmed again?

Oh, wait. I remember, it was California’s fault because, after all, the poor department managers had to work with an inferior budget. Then why did Ah-nuld say, “I know [the department heads for the movie production] are padding the budget. Shave something.”? Why is it okay to have department heads for the movie studio padding a budget and when it happens, the real increases in costs are because California is trying to obtain enough in revenues to pay the bills?

And speaking of paying the bills, wasn’t it Ah-nuld who said, “For every dollar we send to the Federal government, we get back 77 cents. Where is the other 23 cents?” Wasn’t it Ah-nuld who pointed out that the problem with California is that we’re spending $4 billion a month on a war for which we’ve already been asked to contribute $100 bil…oops…waitaminute. I misspoke. I didn’t mean “California.” I meant, “The United States.” So is Ah-nuld saying that we need to stop spending money we don’t have? Will he stand up and tell you that going from a budget surplus under Bill Clinton the Sex Fiend to a half-trillion dollar deficit under King George IV (King George III is the one against whom Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers rebelled) is immoral?

Somehow, I don’t think so.

My wife complained throughout the speech that Ah-nuld wasn’t answering the questions. I disagreed with her—to a degree. The problem wasn’t so much that he didn’t answer the questions, although I agree he didn’t address them head-on. The problem was that he responded to each question with a feel-good speech that tangentially and inchoately appeared to touch on the questions. It wasn’t exactly like someone saying, “Would you like a slice of bull…er, steak?” and getting a response of “There’s nothing like a drive in the park in the middle of a monsoon.” It was more like, “Please, may I give you an opportunity to provide a scripted speech of politico-adspeak relating to what you think everyone wants to hear about education (or immigrants, since no one can accuse you of bigotry against immigrants since you are one [just not brown…and from Mexico…like the-ones-we-hate-but-can’t-grow-or-harvest-crops-in-our-agriculture-based-state-without])?” And Ah-nuld’s practically-instantaneous responses, nearly cutting off the question-asker, which constituted the politico-adspeak.

Please ask me if I really believe that an unscripted Ah-nuld can speak on such varied topics as farming (where I agree with my wife: he dodged the question admirably) to education (where he said the same thing to every question posed by an “educator” [actor?]) to the budget (“We’re going to audit everything and open the books to everyone!”—Earth-to-Ah-nuld! Earth-to-Ah-nuld! This is the United States: Those books are ALREADY public record. They’re ALREADY audited. They’re ALREADY open to public inspection. This isn’t Austria.) to the need for the government to promise Detroit that there will be hydrogen-refueling stations every 20 miles in California.

And—tell me, please!—where did that last comment come from? Did we need to promise that California would put gasoline stations every 20 miles before Detroit would build regular gas-guzzling automobiles? Did we? Since when has California been in the business of building or otherwise guaranteeing automobile refueling stations (of any type) every 20 miles? We won’t reduce our oil consumption for one very basic reason: The President of the United States does not want us to, because the oil companies that own him don’t want us to, because there would be no need to invade other countries, or raise your gas prices 20 cents for unexplainable reasons in a one-to-three day period of time just before Labor Day driving. There would be no multi-million dollar deals for Halliburton (VP Cheney’s company) or Bechtel (Halliburton’s organizational wife). There would be no events to use as an excuse for curtailing civil rights in a manner not seen since the last King George. Rumsfeld would be living on skid row in San Francisco pining for the days of the Mitchell Brothers. Tom Ridge would be pondering a life as a K-Mart manager. Cheney would be complaining that his pay as a 7-Eleven clerk would not support his (sorely needed) gym fees. And George Bush would be sitting on a busy street corner in Central Texas with a sign that says, “Will Massrek Massacremo Massacramulate the English Langui Langua Ling For Food.”

Perhaps I’ll change my mind if Ah-nuld ever actually debates without scripted questions apparently known to him in advance (at least give us people who can deliver the lines better than Ah-nuld in his first, second and third movies!).

Ah-nuld himself summed up his methodology best when he said,

“This is my plan to reach out. It has been successful in the past. You know me well enough by now that I’m good in marketing. I’m good in promoting,” Schwarzenegger said. Arnold Schwarzenegger, admitting that he’s trying to control how people see him, TheSanDiegoChannel.com, September 4, 2003.

For now, I can only say that to me, he’s no longer the Terminator; I think he needs to be aaaaaaaah-nulled.

Categories: Politics-In-General


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