This column has not been friendly to our current governor. That someone could capitalize on a career as a homicidal action hero in mostly forgettable films by running for public office felt in all ways like a huge step backwards for the progressive state of California. But perhaps Arnold synchronizes with some grand contradiction in the nature of Californians; the part of us that eats avocadoes instead of meat to be healthy, then sits back and allows fear-mongering zealots to repeal civil rights for gays. Maybe, at some times and in some ways but not always, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a representative of California.
Last week the Governator made some statements that did not cause his foot to go as near his mouth as usual. And it seems right to amplify that moment of common good sense with the same gusto one would used to criticize him for all the other stuff.
Appearing February 21st on ABC’s This Week, Schwarzenegger was interviewed by host Terry Moran as he sat alongside Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, who is a Democrat and also differs from Schwarzenegger in that he has never traveled through time as a robot to kill people with a machine gun.
Schwarzenegger reacted to comments made by talking haircut and possible alien invader Mitt Romney, who was heard in a video clip to criticize President Obama and the stimulus package, saying that the stimulus had not created any private-sector jobs. Schwarzenegger pointed out that Republicans appear to enjoy making those kinds of comments in media, then they return to their home districts and “they are posing with the big check and they say, ‘Isn’t this great? Look what kind of money I provide for the state.’ It doesn’t match up.”
Citing that hypocrisy was plenty good enough, but Schwarzenegger also served-up a rich dessert by pointing out that the so-called Tea Party movement is not really doing anything. Our governor observed that “The Tea Party is not going to go anywhere. I think the Tea Party is all about just an expression of anger and dissatisfaction.” I’m noting that a highly visible Republican—our highly visible Republican–stood apart and away from the Tea Party instead of kissing up to it. And that’s something that is needed at this time, not only for his party but for the public good in terms of disempowering the possibly racist and inarguably dumb Tea Party.
It’s hard to escape the feeling that those Sunday morning news shows such as This Week exist in the same floating cloud as the mythical Scottish village of Brigadoon, since their impact seems rarely felt and the guests often speak as if nobody is really watching. But sometimes the comments made on those shows can and do become part of political dialogue on Monday morning, so bravo to our governor for taking the opportunity to strongly suggest that his own party stop behaving badly.
Of course it’s imperative to point out that Schwarzenegger made these comments on Sunday morning and that the next day he was scheduled to meet with President Obama in pursuit of more federal aid for California. One might dismiss the whole thing as Arnold bringing the President a box of cigars in the form of some supportive language just before a big meeting. But I’m so eager to have an opportunity to be proud of the Sound Biteinator that I’m willing to look past that simple dismissal.
Time will determine the role that images of Tea Party types acting-out like children at town hall meetings had on the tortured path of health care reform. But for someone like Schwarzenegger to observe that the mash-up of unhappy loners and dupes that is the Tea Party “is not going to go anywhere” is a potent antidote to the media’s syndrome of looping footage of extreme and outspoken behaviors by fringe weaklings, and then asking politicians about a “movement” among “the people.” It would be one thing if the Tea Party were being given coverage and screen time because they had some ideas or a plan. It’s another for them to be highly visible simply because CNN thinks viewers are tired of that video where a squirrel is water skiing in a backyard swimming pool.
We’re living in a time when “issues” are not so much expanded (Lord knows they are not debated) as they are inflamed. The media and “Republican leaders” rub the irritated patch, causing more redness and swelling but the attention is never guided by any intelligent effort to resolve or find a workable solution. Instead, the summation is basically “Look how ugly this sore spot is getting.” And that’s assuming that what’s in play is a genuine issue, and not “death panels” or “government-run health care.” Since media shirks the responsibility of editing or shaping material toward a level of comprehension that would cause the public to reasonably think things through, that job falls to others. Who besides me is counting the number of times that Al Gore has to explain global warming? Our governor made an overt effort, however short-lived, to clarify and make sense of some things when his own party currently has no strategy but to obstruct and complain. I say that’s a good day for him and California. Of course, the state is still broke. But at least its governor was making sense, if even for a brief and shinning moment.
Mirror Contributing Writeropinion@smmirror.com