January 21, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

True Meaning Of ‘Arnold The Barbarian:’ State GOP Woefully Weak: Elias:

Those several years in the last decade when actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was its Great Germanic Hope said more about the current state of California’s Republican Party than almost anything else that happened during his seven years in Sacramento.

The real meaning of Arnold: the GOP lacks credible candidates with intellectual substance whom it can run for major office here.

For quite awhile, Schwarzenegger, who did not bother to vote in the majority of elections over the six years before he became governor, was the hottest Republican commodity the GOP since Ronald Reagan.

Yes, some longtime California GOP political consultants reminded the Austrian-born thespian and his enthusiasts that Reagan’s political career was durable because it did not suddenly spring Athena-like from anyone’s mind, the way Schwarzenegger’s did.

“People forget that Reagan didn’t just appear out of thin air to run for governor against Pat Brown in 1966,” Dan Schnur, longtime press secretary to ex-Gov. Pete Wilson and now director of a politics institute at USC, recalled at the time.

Schnur added Schwarzenegger’s appeal within the state Republican Party, despite the fact he didn’t share many of its convictions, said more about the GOP than about anything or anyone else, including the muscleman himself, who has now returned to acting. He was right.

But Schwarzenegger was unique. What happened to Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain during the fall shows how remarkable it was that Schwarzenegger not only survived, but even took a large plurality of the female vote after his womanizing was exposed – and never denied – in the weeks and days before the 2003 Gray Davis recall election. It wasn’t until he was out of office that philandering cost him much of anything, and then it ended his marriage, but exacted no political price.

One magazine story titled “Arnold the Barbarian” (a play on his movie title role as “Conan the Barbarian”) made it plain as early as 2002 that reporters would look into all aspects of his life, and they finally found something solid after he left office – an out-of-wedlock child conceived with his family’s housekeeper.

Schwarzenegger never really had much sense of irony. That became plain in late 2002, when he telephoned a columnist who had observed that California needed a new Patton in Sacramento. “That’s a really good line,” he said, perhaps unaware that complimenting the World War II general in his thick Germanic accent might seem inappropriate to some.

That call spurred even more enthusiasm among Californian Republicans, who have lost almost all statewide elections since 1994, than they’ve shown for any candidate since. They’ll be even more irrelevant in Sacramento in 2012 than before, with current Gov. Jerry Brown indicating he may not even consult the minority party in budget negotiations.

The fact that party officials and voters in general could be so moved by Schwarzenegger’s ephemeral and chimerical personality spoke volumes. It demonstrated the GOP would grasp at almost any straw as it desperately sought to win.

No doubt the party would do it again today, if another Schwarzenegger lurked in the political weeds. For as it heads into an election year, the GOP has seen absolutely no credible candidates rise up to oppose U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s reelection, not even a fabulously wealthy candidate like those the party has recently fielded, people like financier Bill Simon, its nominee for governor in 2002, and Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, the twinned businesswomen it turned to for its top slots last year.

Not even record-level spending by Whitman in her campaign against Democrat Jerry Brown could make her truly competitive for governor, as all too often she had a deer-in-the-headlights demeanor.

Sadly for the GOP, no new billionaires show the stomach for a big-money run just now, and at this writing no one in the fabulously wealthy class is making any noises about trying for governor in 2014, either.

Without such candidates – and Schwarzenegger was an almost unique combination of celebrity and personal wealth – a party usually turns to its bench, people who have held secondary statewide offices like controller and lieutenant governor or been big city mayors, like ex-Gov. Pete Wilson, once top gun in San Diego.

But the GOP has no bench; it lost every statewide race last year and the only one it won four years earlier was Schwarzenegger’s own reelection.

Next in line might be members of Congress, but with the House under Republican control, the party’s best-heeled and best-known politicos there are loath to give up their leadership positions.

So where does the GOP turn? Who knows, now that there’s no Schwarzenegger available for a bailout?

Which means California can expect its years of Democratic domination to build on themselves – and that’s the true meaning of the Schwarzenegger boom, which highlighted better than almost anything else the deep weakness of the party he identified with. He did little for California during his time as governor and less for his party, now in a sad-sack condition.

in Opinion
Related Posts

Santa Monica’s Future: Will Developers or Residents Rule? – Part 2 Our Downtown

January 14, 2022

January 14, 2022

This is the 2nd of five weekly articles looking at the history and current condition of Santa Monica’s beachfront environment...

Column: Let’s talk About the Soil

January 12, 2022

January 12, 2022

Everyone knows that we are undergoing a climate change not seen on the earth before. We all understand what is...

A New Years Glimpse Into Santa Monica’s Future: Will Developers or Residents Rule?

January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022

It’s a New Year, a make-or-break year for Santa Monica!! How much do you care about your city and it’s...

Opinion: Attorney General Spurs on Big 2022 Housing Battle

January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist There will be plenty of political battles next year, starting with likely reelection challenges to Gov....

Should California Have a Formal Right to Shelter?

January 3, 2022

January 3, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist On a de facto basis, Californians have had a right to shelter for many years. But...

SM.a.r.t Wishes for 2022

January 3, 2022

January 3, 2022

We wish for: All California residents to gain back the control of their Cities from Sacramento’s draconian power grab by...

SMa.r.t. 2021 Christmas Card

December 22, 2021

December 22, 2021

Dear Readers, SM.a.r.t. (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow) wish you all a joyous Holiday Season and a Wonderful...

Seismic Water Resiliency

December 16, 2021

December 16, 2021

This is the 2nd part of two-part article  (see smmirror.com/2021/12/sma-r-t-column-its-not-your-fault/ for the first part) Last week we wrote about the...

SMa.r.t. Column: It’s Not Your Fault

December 13, 2021

December 13, 2021

This is a two-part article Two large tectonic plates are engaged in a titanic multi-million year battle to slip past...

One of LA’s Best Omakase Counters is Tucked Away in a Santa Monica Hotel Lobby

December 8, 2021

December 8, 2021

Sushi Chef Masa Shimakawa’s Soko restaurant offers an extraordinary culinary experience By Sam Catanzaro Tucked into the lobby of a...

Building Conversion in Today’s Market Environment

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

Adaptive reuse, repurposing, and up-cycling of industrial and commercial buildings (“Conversion”) for greater in-demand uses are rapidly becoming the direction...

Opinion: Shore Hotel and Unite Here Local 11

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

By David G. Brown  While reading one of the mass text messages recently sent by Unite Here Local 11 in...

State’s Housing Solution Starts Happening

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

By Tom Elias, Columnist It’s happening. Despite the best efforts of California’s highly ideological, developer-financed state legislators, the solution to...

Opinion: SB 9, 10: The Rebellion Begins

November 19, 2021

November 19, 2021

By Tom Elias, Columnist It was inevitable from the moment Gov. Gavin Newsom in mid-September signed this year’s two most...