It would have been utterly pathetic were it not for the urgency of the moment: with less than four days to go in one of the most significant elections in modern human history, there was California's Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the campaign trail in Ohio, pandering for John McCain and Sarah Palin in the heart of working-class America.
With his faux tan and Hollywood crafted persona, Schwarzenegger took a series of cheap shots at Democratic nominee Barack Obama, the type of low oratorical blows that he would never have the temerity to utter here in California--and only a week after declaring in a CNN interview that "I don't believe in personal attacks. I personally don't think that the people are interested [in] that..."
So much for the Governator's integrity.
Unable to prevent a Republican landslide for Obama in the Golden State (I'm predicting that Obama-Biden wins in California by nearly 25 points), Schwarzenegger took to the campaign trail on behalf of the McCain-Palin ticket in Columbus, where he stages an annual body-building expo.
"John McCain," Schwarzenegger declared, "has served his country longer in a POW camp than his opponent has served in the United State Senate." It was a remarkably insensitive and chilling reference to "camps" coming from someone whose own father voluntarily joined a paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party as it launched its genocide against Jews in Europe. Not to mention his own blank political resume when he first ran for governor six years ago.
But Schwarzenegger did not stop there. Unable to curtail either his macho or Aryan tendencies, he declared: "I want to invite Senator Obama [to Columbus], because he needs to do something about those skinny legs. I'm going to make him do some squats. And then we're going to make him do some biceps curls to beef up those scrawny little arms."
"If only we could do something about putting some meat on his ideas," Schwarzenegger declared, apparently forgetting his own nose-diving approval ratings here in California, which are rivaling the likes of George Bush. With little more than two years left to go in his failed governorship, he's already viewed as a lame duck by most political players in Sacramento.
Of course, one never knows how much stock to put in anything Schwarzenegger has to say. When he doesn't have a script in front of him, he's often all over the map. Verbatim transcriptions of his remarks reveal the linguistic capacity of someone who has difficulty comprehending anything but the most simplistic political formulations.
"I left Europe four decades ago because socialism has killed opportunities there," Schwarzenegger said. ". . . Now Sen. Obama says he wants to pursue the same 'spread the wealth' ideas that Europe had decades ago."
Are we really supposed to be taking this guy seriously? Little more than a week ago, a persistent Campbell Brown on CNN asked him about Sarah Palin. He described her as a "great choice," then conceded that she wasn't yet qualified to serve as president.
Then he equivocated yet again. Schwarzenegger declared, "Do you have the will to educate yourself? Do you have the will to get up to speed? Are you a sponge that absorbs information very quickly? That's the kind of person [Palin] is. That's what she would do if she becomes vice president."
Of course, Palin's mantra of "Drill, Baby, Drill," doesn't particularly resonate with Schwarzenegger's California constituency, and Brown tried to pin him down on the issue. Schwarzenegger simply refused to answer her question about this critical policy difference between himself and the McCain-Palin ticket. "The important thing is that McCain has a great portfolio of different energy sources and different solutions to the problem we're facing today," he declared, a flat-out lie about McCain's clearly stated support for off-shore oil drilling.
Back in Ohio, Schwarzenegger didn't have to worry about offending Californians. "If Sen. Obama had taken all of that money he has spent on TV ads, he could have bailed out the banks, paid off everyone's mortgages and saved taxpayers a ton of money," Schwarzenegger, well, lied again. "I think there will be a backlash against all of this lopsided spending. I think Americans on Tuesday will say our democracy is not for sale."
Say what? Schwarzenegger has used his celebrity to rake in more than $130 million in campaign contributions since his first gubernatorial bid six-plus years ago. He's also accepted several hundreds of thousands of dollar from corporate cronies who have sponsored trips and conferences overseas.
Moreover, in his current campaign for a ballot initiative to take the power to craft legislative districts away from state lawmakers (Prop. 11), Schwarzenegger has outspent his opponents by a ratio of 10-to-1. His hypocrisy apparently knows no bounds.
And come the national election results on Tuesday, we'll see who needs to be doing his squats and curls. The Governator's political muscle is looking awfully flabby these days.
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