Watch enough monster movies and you’ll find that there’s always a moment near the end of the film when it is presumed the creature from another world is down, finished, ka-put. Then the two lovers start to embrace. Cut to: the creature’s eyeball. It slowly rolls open. Then a clawed arm reaches up and—BLAM! One more laser shot. NOW the critter is wasted. Roll credits.
I would suggest that while both Bush and Schwarzenegger currently appear to be down, we cannot begin our happy dance nor can we put our laser pistols away.
Further, both would-be “leaders” are being pulled down by the awesome accumulated mass of their failure and incompetence. That’s not the same as comeuppance. But then, this is not a Dickens novel. Or is it?
Maybe this country is blessed with a kind of internal course-correction system that causes us to jettison that which doesn’t work or bring us relief or solve our problems. Yes, Newt Gingrich initially feasted on our inability to identify a self-serving shark in our waters. But eventually he was pushed aside by his own stale odor. Bill O’Reilly gets caught making lewd phone calls, Rush Limbaugh spews about “strength” while addicted to dope, William Bennett… and so on. There seems to be a moment of discovery or illumination with these types that they inevitably bring on themselves.
Schwarzenegger is a fascinating anomaly: A man with a global profile who has no demonstrable skill or ability at anything. (Lifting weights over your head, that’s talent?) Except for a baby oilman’s understanding of price and economics, Bush is exactly the same. As pointed out in Paul Cummin’s excellent column on these pages last week, Bush’s legacy after five years shows nothing in the positive column. Neither man had any work experience relative to leadership, unless you count executions in Texas.
What’s truly impressive is that the previous paragraph is without bias. It’s a simple statement of fact: We gave jobs with power to the wrong people.
But because the installation of these men into government occurred out in the open, right in front of our faces, we have no right to celebrate. As with the comatose alien creature, one of those slimy tentacles may rise up once more before the credits roll.
Like the obese teen that finally one summer decides to get the weight off, we seem to suddenly see Bush and Arnold in their true light. But what flipped that? Has the media sobered up? Even if it has, Bush still doesn’t appear to be headed for impeachment. Remarkable, when you contrast an act of oral sex to mountains of dead humans.
And yet I think death is what’s flipping it. There comes a time when even the most right wing Christian loses the appetite for death, oil or no oil. The Plame revelations might be working on our sense of honor, but more than 2,000 dead U.S. soldiers… that’s breaking our hearts and we can’t take it anymore.
It sounds absurd, but I think Arnold is a more complex case. Years from now, our letting Arnold become governor will look as though we handed the state government over to Sponge Bob Squarepants. Students will ask, “Why did they do that? Because he was known from entertainment? Didn’t they realize that these kinds of men always go in wanting something and that, even when they’re down, they still find a way to get it?”
This Week’s “Know Your News” Quiz
1) U.S./ N. Korea nuclear weapons talks
(a) did not advance much.
(b) ignored Kim Jong Il’s hair.
(c) were sponsored by Hite Beer.
2) New York subway cops will now use
(a) breath mints and pocket combs.
(b) hand-held bomb detectors.
(c) hand-held crotch detectors.
3) Hansen’s Beverages has had success with
(a) “Monster Energy Drinks.”
(b) “Sleepy Time Child Neutralizer.”
(c) their new product “Can-O-Sugar.”
1) (a) “By “dismantle” you mean…?”
2) (b) “That beeping is my heart, officer…”
3) (a) “I can’t make my eyelids close…”