Give a Hand to the Governor E(r)ect
by Leilla Matsui
October 13, 2003
The lord, as everyone knows moves in the mysterious ways of a hormonal, head-banging pre-teen having a bad hair weekend at 'Ozz Fest'. Especially when he smiles down on us, braces and all, from headline heaven and decrees that running man Arnold should win the total recall and terminate the Governor-dude. Perhaps he's been getting high off all those Hummer fumes leaking out of the expanding ozone hole over the world's fifth largest economy. Or maybe he's just the same Beavis who sent us a plague of locusts and 'The Bachelor' just for the hell of it. Perhaps only divine comedy could explain a series of high-profile mauling cases in the same week - one involving a lion and the other ones, the Governor-elect of California.
For the non-believing minority, however, the whole recall fiasco was little more than a judicial coup d'etat; a political ass-grab, if you will, engineered by the very people who had lost the election the last time around. For obvious reasons, Republicans couldn't jerry-rig the ballot counting like they did in Florida in 2000 so they exploited a legal loophole to oust a legitimately elected leader and replace him with another dim-bulb baby kisser with name recognition. (Whether or not they knew he'd also man-handle their mothers is another story)
The recall option was originally instituted as a safety valve to safeguard the system from unfit leadership - not unpopular leaders, even ones with 'Dweeb' sewn onto the labels of their boxer shorts. Recall is an extreme measure like the emergency brake in a subway car. It's hard to believe that anyone would potentially derail a train by activating it because he/she missed their station. Unfortunately, that pretty well sums up the Republican response these days to their own inability to win elections. Roughly translated from Pig-Latin, their motto could read: 'If at first you don't succeed, manufacture a crisis to divert scrutiny from your own failures.' Of course, if a few hundred people go down with you, just holler the word, 'terrorist' and let Homeland Security take care of the rest.
Former Governor Davis, just months into his second term was tried and sentenced by a well-heeled and housebroken media - those frothing at the fangs lapdogs who safeguard their masters' investment portfolios. The official pundit version of Gray Davis's ignoble and short-lived term as Governor is an etch-a-sketch portrait of a milquetoast underachiever, overwhelmed and ill-equipped to tackle an energy crisis and the conjugal demands of his wife in the 48 hour period allotted to him as governor. Even if there's some truth in the final analysis, it seems we are creeping ever closer to the day when the democratic process is revamped to follow the guidelines of 'speed dating' with elected leaders having to push undebated, drive-by reforms within the parameters of a soundbite or be hounded out of office.
The Arnold supporters who lined up outside 'Planet Hollywood' a decade ago, expecting to rub elbows with their idol as he chowed down next to them will undoubtedly be disappointed again when the former restaurateur makes yet another no-show at their table. This self-proclaimed 'man of the people' will unlikely live up to his saviour role as a crusading outsider, championing the little guy from his 'Independent' pulpit since he's already proven that he has no appetite for them or their bad-ass food.
According to Arianna Huffington, the Independent label is something he's co-opted from candidates like herself and Peter Camejo - a last ditch appeal to woo the electorate with an even more dazzling display of unoriginality. 'The People's Governor' is a plagiarized role he's scripted for himself in yet another blockbuster offering. This time the citizens of California will have to write-off the resulting box-office poison themselves. For those living outside the planet USA, the people of California have truly been blessed with a 'Governor for the People', the 'Pod People' that is; the saucer-eyed and slack-jawed electorate who voted for their Governor with the torn stubs of their Cineplex tickets.
Arnold supporters would argue, however, that their toothful leader has a refreshing disdain for party platforms, and admire the way he picks and chooses the choicest morsels and phrases from his party's (and every other's) handbooks. Arnold approaches politics like most people would a buffet spread: a little of this and a little of that and soon you have what looks like a dog's breakfast of partially digested slop trailing over the rim of an undersized plate. In Arnold's case it's a bit of fascism (the body-worshipping, control and fitness freak who admires Hitler for his power and charisma), a lot of conservatism (no tax-hikes - take it out of the mouths of underprivileged children), a bit of liberalism (abortion's cool), and a smattering of libertarianism (the government shouldn't interfere with a man's right to grope chicks who might need it). Again, a dog's breakfast of partially digested political tracts he's skimmed through while going over the finer points of his abs and pecs.
Die-hard cynics will wonder too if his socially liberal outlook on the abortion issue stems from having his thong so often trailing his ankles; he knows first hand the pain of being threatened with a lawsuit (or 200) over involuntary parenthood. His rather enlightened views on gay issues might have been a pre-emptive charm-offensive against damaging allegations of his soft-core, boy-toy past rather than any principled stand for civil liberties.
'Fiscally conservative' and 'socially moderate' was one generous assessment of his candidacy and a label that will no doubt be replaced with 'physical and conservative' and 'asocially immoderate' when the reality of staring down a budget crisis hits him in the least developed part of his anatomy - his brain. By that time, he'll be as popular as a date rapist at a hot tub convention - a reversion to type which will help smooth his greased-pole descent from political impersonator to former governor when the next recall is announced.
Leilla Matsui is a freelance writer living in Tokyo, Japan. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org