By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
As the world knows now, Schwarzenegger turns politics on its ear, stunning a room full of reporters who — trusting too much in longtime background sources, not used to movie stars, had grown disconsolate at the twists and turns of the decision — had reported day after day that he was out. So did Schwarzenegger “mug” his friend Riordan, who had already endorsed him on Fox News in late June, by not telling him he had decided to run after all, as claimed by yet another unnamed source? Only those two know for sure what was said. But consider the logic of the situation. Riordan is notoriously garrulous. He is an old friend of Feinstein. They have many mutual friends. Would you trust him to keep arguably the biggest secret of your life?
His Tonight Show bombshell dropped, and two press conferences conducted, one indoors for print and one outdoors for cameras — on what the NBC publicist called, indecorously with regard to a Kennedy family member, “the grassy knoll” — Schwarzenegger roared off into the late afternoon light, leaving his stunned consultants in his wake. “Well,” said one, “maybe we should meet up back at Arnold’s office (in Santa Monica).” Assuming that was where he had gone. Walsh went back inside to brief the press, asking me if Schwarzenegger had told Jay Leno that he would go down to the county registrar to pull his filing papers on Thursday. Assured that he had said just that, Walsh went on to inform a gaggle of still stunned reporters. The campaign, to paraphrase a ’60s line about the revolution, is where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s boot strikes.
Indeed his interest in the governorship is long-standing. After I revealed last fall that Schwarzenegger had conducted a poll to judge his prospects as a write-in candidate for governor, which his consultants unconvincingly denied eight hours after being asked, Schwarzenegger acknowledged he had done just that. There is even a 1991 cover story in a now defunct magazine asking if the cigar-smoking, Armani-clad Terminator would be the next governor of California.
Yet, even now, the ducks are not all in a row for the campaign. His appeal is obvious. But the absence of the trademark meticulous preparation evident in Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilding, business, and movie ventures is apparent. He had, after all, planned to run in 2006; this was to be a big movie and business year, with the massive Terminator 3 now projected to take in $400 to $450 million in global box office. The candidate wisely avoided being drawn off his central themes of cleaning up Sacramento, reviving the economy and fixing the budget mess, and bringing people together by not answering more tangential questions on gay marriage and paid family leave, issues which Davis “studied” for months before announcing positions. It’s best to say only what one knows for sure; small miscues are better than big mistakes. But his evasions were not artful and raised questions about the neophyte candidate’s grasp of specifics. And his consultants were in communications gridlock. Only this week do they get BlackBerry wireless handhelds to enable them to skip past cell-phone tag and overflowing voice mail.
Schwarzenegger is knowledgeable on education, crime, and childhood development, issues he has long been involved with, but mostly defers discussion on other issues. “You know there is a time and a place for all of this,” he says. “You will know.”
His politics are what might be described as fusion Republican. Indeed, for all the Wilsonites around him now, Schwarzenegger seems most attuned to the one who is no longer with us. Otto Bos, a former San Diego journalist and Sierra Club member, was Wilson’s kinder and gentler face. He and Gorton ran Wilson’s 1990 gubernatorial campaign against Feinstein and Bos became the new governor’s communications director, working closely with chief of staff Bob White, also a Schwarzenegger adviser.
Bos spoke repeatedly of his vision of a New Republican Party: moderate to liberal on social and environmental issues, fiscally conservative but focused on intervening to help people at critical stages in their lives (say childhood development, basic education, opportunities for higher education, job training).
But Bos, an All-American soccer player at San Francisco State, dropped dead of a heart attack during a weekend pickup soccer game early in Wilson’s term. The long hours and obsessive nature of the political lifestyle hadn’t left time for regular workouts, and Bos made the classic mistake of the middle-aged male in attempting to make up for declining physical prowess by overdoing it as a weekend warrior.
With the loss of Bos and his constant projection of who he could be as a political leader, Wilson became more of a default Republican, promoting initiatives to cut welfare and to deny schooling and other benefits to illegal immigrants, which had the effect of deflecting blame for the state’s economic and budget crises of the early ‘90s.
Today Schwarzenegger says: “I despise all this partisanship, I despise division. We need to find ways to work together, to move forward, like we did with the great guys of the past like Earl Warren and Pat Brown and Hiram Johnson. Yes, we have differences, and sometimes we have to fight over them to work toward a solution. But getting to the solution has to be the goal, not just the fighting. You and I, we may not agree on something, but if you argue with the eye to moving forward, that is what is positive.