Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Saturday, August 16, 2003  

This probably isn't such a controversial thought, but: why is it that people think Arnie's not qualified to be the guv? Who is qualified? Businessmen run and raise no eyebrows. Ditto lawyers, doctors, teachers, labor leaders. No one says boo. But an actor runs, and all of a sudden it's a circus.

Arnie let everyone know years ago that he was interested in politics. He's spent three decades in the entertainment industry, conquering it a way that Reagan never did (nor, for that matter, Dubya). He married into one of the most powerful political families in America. It's safe to assume that public policy is something he regularly discusses over dinner, at the very least. He appears to be at least reasonably intelligent, competent, and interested in policy--setting himself above at least half the politicians who manage to get elected as our leaders. But he's an actor, so.

Criticisms that he hasn't answered hard questions about policy are legitimate, of course. But there's something distasteful in the notion that of all the prepatory professions, Hollywood is somehow exempt as an appropriate political lead-in. In fact, the so-called "appropriate" lead-ins are anything but. Consider what governing involves. As a lawmaker, you must become familiar with a vast array of public policy issues: crime and law, social programs, defense and foreign policy (in some offices), budgets and economics, taxes and tax law, education, and on and on, not to mention the issue of playing the give-and-take game of politics.

Businesspeople claim that running a business qualifies them to run the government. Really? Exactly how does selling widgets prepare you to compromise with your opponents to create law about, say, teachers' salaries? Being a trial lawyer informs you on budgetary issues how?

No one comes into the game knowing their ass from a hole in the ground. All you can do is look at the candidate's level of competence, her history of dealing with challenges, her record of innovation, her intelligence, and her character and then make a good call. So for the record, don't tell me Arnie's not qualified (which is not to say he should be elected).

posted by Jeff | 5:35 PM |
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