Arnold Rules: Has California Been Terminated?
Recall ruminations from Edge Editor Gar Smith
October 24, 2003

Arnold Rules: Has California Been Terminated?
Gar Smith / The-Edge

As a candidate, Arnold brandished guitars, brooms, and boards. The real heavy lifting will begin when the new governor tries to tackle the state budget. ©Photo collage / The-Edge
If California's recent recall election proved anything to the world it is the following: Americans are not ready for self-rule.

In an attempt to avoid lapsing into total despair, we offer the following ruminations on the Ascendancy of Governor Arnold.

Yo, Homies! Give Arnold Props!

In the course of his campaign, Arnold Schwarzenegger began to look more and more like a "prop-up candidate." At almost every stump speech, it seemed as though his handlers were shoving a new stage prop into his hands.

There was the broom. There was the electric guitar. There was the surfboard held high above his head. Many of us in California began to look forward to Arnold arriving in Sacramento for his promised audit and hoisting an accountant over his head.

Under Arnold, California's new state song has become "We Ain't Gonna Take It!" Perhaps not the best tune to inspire discipline and proper grammar in the minds of the children Arnold claims as his "first concern." Meanwhile, many of us adults are left to ponder what it means when the state's new house band is Twisted Sister.

The Running Man: How Arnold Almost Lost It

One week before California's historic October 7 gubernatorial election, the state's Extreme Republicans were getting ready to sing a final chorus of "Springtime for Arnold; Winter for Cruz 'n' Gray." And then it happened -- the Golden State neocons were hit with their worst nightmare: Their candidate turned out to be... CLINTON ON STEROIDS!

Suddenly Maria Shriver was the New Hilary. She scolded the media by arguing that Arnold's accusers "don't know my husband" or "only met him for five seconds 30 years ago." Unfortunately, her comments seemed to suggest two things about the man: (1) he prefers to accost complete strangers and (2) he's not the kind of guy who has a "slow hand." (If Maria had a campaign song, what would it be? "Stand by your Manhandler"?)

In those first panic-stricken moments, the candidate's publicists may well have considered telling Schwarzenegger to play innocent and issue a statement along the lines of: "It's all a misunderstanding. My campaign managers told me if I wanted to connect with the voters I had to 'go out and press the flesh' and those kinda things."

Schwarzenegger's campaign desperately needed some new slogans to put a positive spin on the candidate's "rowdy" and "playful" nature. Trying to be helpful, I dashed off a bunch of suggestions for the Schwarzenegger camp. They included the following:

"Elect me Governor. I'll know how to handle those boobs in Sacramento."

"I promise to be a hands-on governor."

"I feel your vein."

And, finally (to paraphrase California's first Actor-Governor):

"Let's win one for The Groper."

In the end, Arnold surprised everyone by admitting that "Where there's smoke there's fire." But then he spent the rest of the campaign posing as the victim of "puke politics," accusing the media and his opponents of making up stories about bum-gripping and breast-grabbing to discredit him and "tear down everything I stand for."

Arnold's high self-esteem has a low tolerance for rejection. When he was informed that he had been disinvited from a Hispanic-American parade in southern California, the Candidate huffed: "I think they hurt my feelings."

'Hasta-la-Vista, Gray-by! '

As a California gubernatorial candidate, Arnold Schwarzenegger relied heavily on reciting the names of his films ("It's going to be 'Judgement Day' and Gray Davis will be 'Terminated' by a 'Total Recall' of the people.")

Arnold's other verbal prop was the endless recycling of favorite catch-phrases from his movies ("I'll be back." "Hasta la vista, baby.")

Now that Arnold actually has become "The Governator," we can only pray that he will no longer rely so heavily on these over-used cine-cliches. After all, Arnold starred in many movies and, like Ronald Reagan, he probably has hundreds of one-liners from his films that he can fall back on when original thought fails him. With this in mind, I decided to check out Arnold's website -- -- to see what other catch-phrases we might expect to hear resurrected in the months ahead.

Terminator 3 offers several Potentially Useful Quotes:

"My mission is to protect you."
"Talk to the hand."
"Your levity is good."

And, if he Arnold discovers that he really can't solve California's problems, he can always claim, as he did in Terminator 3:
"The T-X has corrupted my system."

The website invites fans to vote on their favorite catch-phrases. Not surprisingly, most of these quotations are not what you would call stemwinders. Most range from one to three words.

Here are some of Arnold's favorite crowd-pleasers that we might expect to hear in the gubernatorial days ahead:

"I'll be back."
"I'm back."
"She'll be back."
"Don't do that."
"He's dead tired."
"John Connor. It is time." (Potentially updated to: "John Burton. It is time.")

The longest single line of dialogue appearing on Arnold's website is:
"Desire is irrelevant. I am a machine."
(This phrase could be used to distance the Governor from in his publicly confessed penchant for glad-handing buxom ladies.)

And what is the All-time Favorite Arnold quote as voted by his online fans? According to his website, 48% of his admirers voted for:
"I lied." (From the film, Commando.)

This may explain why Arnold's frequent fibs, factual flubs and meandering misstatements have failed to dampen the ardor of the actor's adoring masses.

This point was underscored five days after the election by Phillip Matier and Anderew Ross, two journalists who write a political gossip column for the San Francisco Chronicle. The October 12 Matier & Ross column carried a report on a post-election party held at the home of Schwarzenegger's campaign strategist, Bob White. During the course of the raucous evening, the following encounter occurred:

The 70 or so people at the party also included a number of lobbyists, one of whom went up to Schwarzenegger and joked, "Hi -- I'm one of those special interests you promised to get rid of."

At which point, Gov. Arnold threw his arms around the guy and laughed, "I lied!"

The Quotable Arnold

Arnold Schwarzenegger has granted hundreds of interviews. In these confessionals, Arnold eagerly discussed his obsession with control and power. These interviews underscore the fact that Schwarzenegger's desire for adoration and domination was never seen as a means of serving the public good: It was always a viewed as a tool to liberate and empower one man -- Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here are some highlights from a compilation of quotes that was featured in the October 4 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle:

I was always dreaming of very powerful people, dictators and things like that.... I was just always impressed by people who could be remembered for hundreds of years, or even, like Jesus, for thousands of years.
-- Pumping Iron, 1977 (film, quoted in Esquire magazine, March 1985)

Around the time of grammar school I had this incredible desire to be recognized. Whenever I watched television or film I always put myself up there on the screen and said, 'How would it be if people looked at me?' . . . At that point, I didn't think about the money, I thought about the fame, about just being the greatest. I was dreaming about being some dictator of a country or some savior like Jesus. Just to be recognized.
-- Rolling Stone, June 3, 1976

What I want most is to get in a position where I can feel absolutely free. I'm really hung up on being free. My goal is to get to the stage where I can do absolutely what I want to do, which is creating the kind of a name and an image so that whatever I do will be all right. That is my longtime goal, and for that you need an incredibly powerful name -- a name that everybody knows.
-- After Dark magazine, February 1977

I knew I was a winner. I knew I was destined for great things. People will say that kind of thinking is totally immodest. I agree. Modesty is not a word that applies to me in any way.
-- Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder (1977 autobiography) quoted in Los Angeles Times, Aug. 4, 1991

I always kind of looked down on people who just did the regular thing.... You know, I felt this was for the untermensch -- you know, the low class.
-- Rolling Stone, June 6, 1976

The guys who own the most real estate in Los Angeles are Europeans. There are people coming over from Yugoslavia with hardly any money.... A friend of mine came over from Czechoslovakia in '68 and he now owns four apartment buildings. Americans are still sitting on their asses waiting for it. Europeans are hungry because we don't have that much. You're over there and you see a guy can have ten dollars one day and $100,000 five years later.
-- Time Out magazine, Dec. 10, 1977

Sometimes (press freedom) gets carried away at the expense of the country. I'm very sensitive about this, because when I lived in Germany I occasionally listened to the East German radio. They don't quote their own journalists: They only quote American and Western journalists and use your material against you. Like how money corrupts people, how the American political system doesn't work, and how Watergate was covered up and how Nixon was involved.... If there's a problem within a political system, I feel it should be solved in the same way as a problem within a marriage: In the privacy of your own four walls. You don't go out and tell your neighbors and the press and everybody.
-- Penthouse, December 1981

Lenin was not as evil. He was just in the right place at the right time. But Stalin was evil. He was a dictator beyond belief. There were questions of who was more evil, Hitler or him.... Saddam didn't start anything great. But Lenin started communism and the whole Karl Marx thing. He started something that lasted 70-something years.
-- Variety, May 5, 2003

I feel you can only have a few leaders and then the rest is followers. I feel that I am the born leader and that I've always (sic) impressed with being the leader. I hate to be the follower.
-- Rolling Stone, June 3, 1976

It's now not just about my career or about me, but it's about representing millions and millions of people. Imagine the joy in that. Imagine how intense you can get about that.
-- Esquire, July 2003

All the crime that is committed in America, including assassination attempts, leads back to the basic fact that we have too liberal a legal system.
-- Penthouse, December 1981

As far as I'm concerned, it [movie violence] doesn't influence people. I watched violent movies all my life and it had no influence on me.
-- Playboy, January 1988

I will never attack [a political opponent]. Why would I worry about someone else? It's not my style." [Later in the same interview] "[Political opponent Lieutenant Governor Cruz] Bustamante is Gray Davis with a receding hairline and a mustache."
-- The Chronicle, Aug. 27, 2003

You have to sit back and look at the whole thing (life) as kind of a big stage play. That's the way I always see my life. It's a big play and even the negative journalist that comes in and destroys you in London, he's just the guy sitting there doing that, and then there's the guy over here doing his thing, and there's the movie producer offering you $30 million, and then there's the wife that is beating you up because you came home late, you know, all of this is part of it... I think therefore you can't take it too seriously.
-- Esquire, July 2003

Compiled by Lance Williams.

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