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

Monday, July 19, 2004  

The "Girlie-Men" Gaffe

"They cannot have the guts to come out there in front of you and say, 'I don't want to represent you. I want to represent those special interests: the unions, the trial lawyers'…. I call them girlie men. They should get back to the table, and they should finish the budget."

--Arnold Schwarzenegger, Saturday

It's not possible for politicians to avoid saying stupid things from time to time, and here Arnold offers up a beaut.  Never mind the possible implications--homophobia, misogyny--the politics alone are idiotic.  A puerile assault on a person's manhood (even if a quarter of the targets aren't men)--not exactly a Kasparov-like move.  Now Arnold's going to be doing damage control for a week and has just handed the PR power back to the opposition. 

But what about the implications?  Dems are playing the homophobe and sexism card and demanding a retraction that the Governor says will not be forthcoming.  I have no doubt he's a sexist and a cultural homophobe (muscleheads must eschew the swishy), but this gaffe points to neither.  Rather, it's a peak into Arnold's hidden propensity toward autocracy that may just be coming out.  Arnold is a competitive guy, and he's competitive in the solo mode of bodybuilding.  His two previous careers both accentuated the cult of the individual.  From Mr. Universe, he went on to become the Terminator and Hollywood's best-paid man.  Although filmmaking is a team effort, Arnold didn't have to share the limelight.  The press described his movies as Arnold movies, and he got all the credit.

In Cali, things were looking good for six months or so.  Through the honeymoon period, Arnold was afforded a number of successes.  The legislature played along and the press wrote the same kind of stories they wrote about Arnie the actor--it was the Arnold show; he got all the credit. 

Of course, in a state where funding measures have to be passed by two-thirds votes, no one man is going to run the show.  The "girlie man" comment was a slip of the lip.  It didn't reveal an inner gay-basher or sexist, however. (Inner sexist?  Isn't he pretty much out of that closet?)  It revealed his inner autocrat.  Just what Californians wanted, right?

Update:  From today's Sacramento Bee:

Arnold Schwarzenegger's fierce desire not only to succeed but to dominate made him the globe's most renowned bodybuilder and action movie star, and that same obsession with winning also placed him in California's governorship.

California's seriously unbalanced state budget, however, is rapidly becoming an indelible black mark on Schwarzenegger's winning record. The man who believed that he could overcome any obstacle by sheer force of will has collided with the issue that was the most important factor in the recall of predecessor Gray Davis.

posted by Jeff | 11:11 AM |
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