Friday, August 22, 2003

Blowing them away at the polls

The Californian recall debacle just gets weirder. For those not across the basics, California has a generous system of that old sawhorse of Australian politics, citizen-initiated-referenda. This apparently extends to “recalling” a Governor and forcing a special election. It’ll be a two stage ballot requiring a majority to oust the Governor and, if that succeeds, votes can be counted as cast in a special election.

The media coverage has not really been about Governor Gray Davis’ budgetary and energy policy woes, of course, but about the farcical number of candidates, and the candidature of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a man who can’t pronounce “forgeddabowdit” as three separate words.

Schwarzenegger faces two serious opponents, the Democrats lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante, who is set to capitalise on the important Hispanic vote and his antagonistic relationship with Gov. Davis. Indeed, Bustamante is ahead of the actor in present polling.

Schwarzenegger’s other opponent is the right wing of the Republican party which is aghast at the Terminator’s tolerant views on abortion and homosexuality (though he is against illegal immigrant workers).

At least Schwarzenegger is following the time honoured Republican tradition of being a candidate who, while being about as sharp as box of hammers, is happy to welcome aboard the full steak-knife set of smart advisers *and* also pay for some of his own advertising.

What is it about Republicans wanting morally (and intellectually) simple people at the helm? (I guess Nixon did give brains a bad name.)

Anyway, the new weirdness is that now Jesse Ventura, former pro wrestler and governor of Minessota has advice for Gubernatorial contender Arnie:

Mr. Ventura [said] that if Californians "are stupid enough to vote for this recall," then people cannot blame his friend and former co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger for capitalizing on it.

"First of all, I'd tell Arnold, be yourself," said Mr. Ventura, a man who made his name and fortune dressing in leotards and boas and playing the heavyweight foil to Hulk Hogan. "Don't be spun doctored and stay away from the Republican Party, who will try to make you something you're not."

At least, even if he makes Governor, as someone not born in the US, Schwarzenegger is constitutionally barred from following Reagan’s lead and running for President. Although, on social policy he’d be an advance on Bush and no more incoherent a speech-maker.

But following Beth’s post about minor-celebrity weapons-inspector Richard Butler becoming Governor of Tasmania, which Australian celebrities would you push for state governor? I kinda like the idea of David Wenham as State Governor: I can see him rocking up to the opening of new government building in denim jacket and burnt-copper three-day growth saying “Yeah, it’s largely a ceremonial gig, but the pay isn't too bad.”

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