Saturday, November 12, 2005

Terminate Schwarzenegger

So I’m annoyed with Arnold Schwarzenegger… and it’s got nothing to do with his politics (which are arguably annoying) and only a little to do with his antics (which are unquestionably annoying). My main beef with “Ah-nold” is the fact that he’s given new life to all the aspiring politicians in Hollywood. This includes not only the usual suspects (e.g. Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks and Warren Beatty), but a new generation of Tinseltown lightweights led by none other than Ben Affleck. The only real credentials these actors seem to have are their enormous wealth, their favorite causes (e.g. PETA and the Creative Coalition) and perhaps the occasional semi-political acting role (e.g. CIA Agent, Prosecutor and Senator). But this bunch can laughably entertain the thought of contending for elected office because of the public soapbox their fame provides. This begs the question though, does it really qualify them for public office?

I don't subscribe to the Team America-like notion that an actor has no place in politics nor any right to voice a political opinion. Actors have as much a right to participate in the process as anyone, and that includes a run for office if they are so inclined. The question is whether we, the American public, should buy into the actor-politician. There have been actors who have made a successful transition (e.g. Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, Fred Thompson and Sonny Bono), but most of these individuals spent years gaining different types of experience before making their foray into politics. Now one might argue that these examples can’t be so easily distinguished, but in my mind Schwarzenegger has lowered the bar. Here’s why…

First, Schwarzenegger was never vetted by a primary process, and pundits on both sides of the political aisle have publicly questioned whether he really could have won one. This only serves to give hope to other actors who haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of winning a primary.

Second, Schwarzenegger ran against patsy competition. The field included such luminaries as former child star Gary Coleman, independent columnist Ariana Huffington and porn star Mary Carey. Schwarzenegger's stiffest challenge in the election was actually the vote deciding whether to even recall the incredibly unpopular Gov. Gray Davis in the first place. In reality, the recall was simply a perfect storm—an extraordinary series of events that very likely will never to happen again. But starry-eyed actors itching to bolt off the political starting line may fail to read the tea leaves of this storm and delude themselves into thinking that they'll contend at the finish line.

Third, because of the unique recall circumstances, there was no build-up to Schwarzenegger’s run for office. This created a VERY weird situation—a campaigning gubernatorial candidate who was simultaneously promoting a film called Terminator 3. The reason this is so bad is that it utterly distorts campaign reality for the political wannabes in question and makes the idea of cannon-balling into major election like a governor’s race seem plausible.

Lastly, Schwarzenegger’s tenure as governor has been plagued with some most unfortunate rhetoric, which has only served to dumb down his elected office. From labeling critics of President Bush’s economic agenda “economic girlie men” to claiming his unpopularity with the California Nurses Association was “because [he was] always kicking their butt,” Schwarzenegger’s bravado has made politics seem tangibly within the grasp of every other narcissistic, over-paid and over-confident thespian who might be able to deliver a line. Win or lose in his bid for re-election next year, I fear the words "I'll be back" are destined to somehow be incorporated into a Schwarzenegger political slogan.

Since his victory just over two years ago, the esteemed California governor has single-handedly inspired a generation of aspiring Hollywood politicos. You think I’m joking… but Alec Baldwin was recently quoted as saying "I wanted to be president of the United States [when I was younger]. I really did. The older I get, the less preposterous the idea seems." Things have gotten so bad that one of these dreamers last week crashed a Schwarzenegger campaign rally to try and capitalize on the man's dwindling popularity. While some may find these sort of publicity stunts morbidly entertaining, I think they lean more toward the "scary as hell" end of the spectrum. Maybe it's their increasing regularity that's putting me on edge. Honestly though, can you really fathom a Beatty v. Schwarzenegger contest in 2006? I reassure myself by thinking that Pauly Shore has a better chance of reviving the successful movie career he never had than a hack like Beatty has at making it onto the ballot. I tell myself that the perfect storm could only happen once. Schwarzenegger simply (and annoyingly) made the impossible seem possible, and that's the end of it. And that's when I always seem to remember another dreamer... one named Jesse "the body" Ventura. Damn.

10 comments:

Hobby Horse said...

Yeah, why be inspired by the likes of Ronald Regan when you've got Arnold's muscles flexing "Hasta La Vista, Baby" to all pure politicians.

Mind Spewer said...

Qualified politicians. What a gas!

BA said...

Don't you mean Jesse "the mind" Ventura? I thought so. I hope to see Kirsten Dunst on the CA ballot next time around, she could do a sweet cheer for her campaign platform... the possibilities are endless.

tigerfoxbear said...

Marc, I have to disagree here. I'm assuming that you've never heard of Sean Penn before, or Matt Damon. I'd like scientific evidence that shows they aren't the two smartest, best looking, most amazing men on the planet. I'd be honored and proud to vote for either of them. Long live rivers of chocolate and lolipop fields.

Marc said...

Assuming arguendo that your impression of Messrs. Penn and Damon is indeed accurate, I've never heard either of them express any desire to run for public office nor have I heard anyone else suggest that they do so (unless that's what you're doing right now... and if that is then I think the burden is on you to highlight their qualifications).

Geoff Tice said...

Dude, you're overdosing on the tags.

tigerfoxbear said...

Let's just assume, arguendo of course, that you are retarded.

Mind Spewer said...

I for one would like to second tigerfoxbear's assertion that Penn and Damon are the smartest, most amazing, and sexiest men on the planet. Wait, was sexy one of their listed attributes? If not, it should be. The sexier the politician, the more he (or she, let's not be sexist) has my vote.

tigerfoxbear said...

Just kidding dude, Sean Penn is qualified because he has opinions, and loves to say them everywhere. Matt Damon is qualified because he was in some dang good movies.

Gargantus said...

How do you make time for homework, that's what i want to know.