Dumb state elects new governor after political circus
NEW YORK -- The three-ring circus came to an end in the State of
California last week: only the elephants and the human cannonball
were missing. The political clowns were aplenty. Arnold Schwarzenegger,
the Austrian-born physical culturist and Hollywood movie star, was
elected Governor of California in a race in which 135 candidates--
including a porn star, a smut peddler and a punk rocker -- were
embroiled in an electoral battle for 77 days.
victory came as a surprise to some because of a rash of allegations
that the former Mr Olympia was a serial groper who forced himself
on women and fondled them -- mostly on Hollywood movie sets.
in the mainstream media may well have come off the sleazy supermarket
tabloids: "Arnold Groped Us: Six Women's Horror Stories".
Or "Schwarzenegger Shocker: I Admire Hitler."
most women and Jews, he still won over 50 percent of the votes to
be elected governor in a State with 15.4 million registered voters.
The late night comedians and editorial writers had a field day.
Jay Leno remarked that Schwarzenegger's passion for groping women
(15 of them-- and still counting) at least assures Californians
that he would be a "hands-on" Governor.
But one New
York Times columnist couldn't resist the temptation of comparing
Schwarzenegger with New York politicians. In the Big Apple, he said,
the politicians are so corrupt that when they grope you, they are
not looking for private parts, but reaching out to steal your wallet.
who claims he will never be a corrupt politician because he is rich
in his own right, spent $10 million out of his own pocket on a campaign
that saturated television viewers throughout California. The outgoing
Governor, Gray Davis, was "recalled" less than a year
after his re-election primarily because he mismanaged finances of
one of the biggest States in the country.
But the "recall"
of a governor as a political weapon has never been used in the country
since the ouster of Lynn Frazier of North Dakota back in 1921. For
most Americans, the recall was both the best and the worst test
of direct democracy at work.
At its worst,
it could be deployed to undo any popular election purely for political
reasons. And at its best the recall could send an ominous political
message to all governors that if they screw up the State's finances,
they could go the way of Gray Davis.
Davis was accused
of running the State's finances to the ground and piling up a $38
billion budget deficit. The State of California, on the other hand,
has been dismissed by some as one of the "dumbest" States
for electing as its new governor a muscle head, an ex-alcoholic,
an anabolic-steroid user and a womanizer.
criticisms have come from those who argue that Schwarzenegger has
no game plan to resolve California's economic crisis. At the height
of the election campaign, he also avoided most news conferences
and debates with other candidates. The only debate he participated
in, was the one in which the candidates were provided questions
in advance (but mercifully not the answers).
admitted his sexual misconduct and apologised for it ("Yes,
it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets"), the squeaky clean,
right wing religious conservatives in the Republican party have
been in a political dilemma as to how they should react to the misbehaviour
of one of their own card-carrying party members.
And now that he has been elected governor, will the Republicans
embrace him or shun him?
W. Bush, a God-fearing Republican who believes in "family values",
is expected to appear on the same platform as Schwarzenegger for
a presidential fund-raiser in California next week. The State of
California is crucial for a presidential re-election in November
2004 -- and Bush cannot afford to ignore Schwarzenegger notwithstanding
his sordid past.
As Robert Knight,
director of the politically conservative Culture and Family Institute,
would remark: "The president is a politician who is running
for re-election, and given that California could be the key to 2004
and that the vote was resoundingly for Arnold, I don't think the
president feels he is embracing Arnold in all of his manifestations."