Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Arnold Schwarzenegger has undeniable charisma. He's rarely been categorized as an "actor". Movie star yes, actor no. But, he has a presence, a presence that comes from force of will. Everything he has approached, he has done from the desire to conquer. Body building, Movies, Politics. He is a force of will.

He is in no danger of being considered a good actor. At times he risked becoming a parody of himself. He hasn't, because he never stopped trying to improve. He doesn't hold onto unrealistic self images. That may come from the bodybuilding.

Actors live in a made up world where everyone tells them how wonderful they are. Bodybuilders live in a self made world where the mirror tells them how wonderful they are. And success comes from acknowledging flaws, and working to eliminate them.

He had become successful, I thought, because he simply chose to, and worked unrelentingly on whatever he had to, to be successful at his chosen occupation. Last night I learned something more about him.

He believes, at a deep level, that he is successful because of his choice to be an American.

His message last night was certainly about reaching out to those that feel the Republican Party is exclusionary and elitist. But his message was not just an attempt to cover the harsh exterior of the Republican party with some kind of soft warm paisley print or otherwise put a sheen of inclusion on the cold, gray, unfeeling metal elephant.

As noted above, he is not much of an actor. The emotion that I saw appeared genuine to me. And his message was really for and about Americans. This is a land of immigrants that have made good. No, you don't get off the boat and get handed keys to a house and a car and put all struggling behind you. It's not like that here. You get handed a pick or a shovel, and you work for your house and cars.

In Dallas, we had thousands of Vietnamese people relocated here after the North and South Vietnams became Vietnam. I watched in amazement as over a 4 year period a person went from being housed at Catholic Charities to owning his own grocery store, house, and Mercedes Benz. 4 years. How did that happen? He came from a world of 16 hour days bent over in a rice paddy and dodging helicopters, disease and famine. He came to a country where all you have to do is work. While his competition was whining about their 8 hour days and 5 day work weeks, he simply outperformed them.

Arnold, and millions of Americans like him, love America for what it is; defined in the only terms that matter, personal terms: their lives here in the land of the free. They aren't interested in the opinion that there are two America's: one for the haves and one for the have nots.

An Ethiopian I know told me, with a big grin on his face, "America is the only place in the world where the poor people are fat!" Mind you, he has seen the poor. And they aren't standing on street corners in their Nikes carrying a Big Gulp in one hand and a sign in another. The poor where he comes from are laying in the streets dying. We all need a bit of a reality check regarding How Things Are Here, versus How Things Are Elsewhere.

Arnold tied all this in to the concept of Republican Ideals. He acknowledged that there are differences of opinion. There always are. But there is consensus on the major things. The pretend divide that the Kerry camp is desperately promoting just doesn't exist. Especially in the context of The Rich versus The Poor as evidenced in America versus Ethiopia. Depending on the yardstick, I am poor, in that I don't own hotels or a jet. Or, I am rich, as in I have food and a place to stay. The American Ideal, or as he stated, the Dream, is not about giving everyone the same level of material goods. It is about giving everybody the same opportunities. And if your aspiration is to stand on a street corner, don't blame Republicans.

Because I guarantee you, if you pick up some dying Ethiopian out of the mud gutter he is laying in and get him back to health, and plop him down in Dallas, Texas, HE WILL NOT BE STANDING ON A CORNER, SIGN IN HAND. He will be working somewhere, saving his money, crying for joy every night, working with a will every day, wondering what to do with all his free time since the boss irrationally won't let him work more than 8 hours in a day, AND FEVERISHLY ATTEMPTING TO GET EVERYONE IN HIS FAMILY HERE AS FAST AS HE CAN.

Arnold's message was one of hope and inclusion from someone that has the credentials to tell the tale. He never said it was easy. He never said he was entitled. And he is not some sort of exception to the rule, he is simply a visible application of the rule.

He also said he is a Republican, and that you might be one too. Come out of the closet all you closet Republicans! Come into the light. You are welcome here. You Democrats can come too.


Buck said...

That’s pretty inspired stuff. I was getting ready to post something about “GLOB blog dead or merely sleeping?” and instead am greeted with this! I’ve pretty much given up on TV, Other than “the Simpsons”, it just sucks the life out of me. That’s too bad, it sounds like I missed something worthwhile.

You don’t have to go halfway around the world to see how blessed we are, just look south across the border. We have it so good. What do we do with this “good”?, that’s what all the yelling is about…

Option #1 – Shut up and get to work.

Option #2 – We’re rich! Let’s help people!

Both worthy goals for our country, how can such noble goals like hard work and helping people generate so much hate? (in mass media anyway)

Anonymous said...

Last night was the first time that I had heard about the President & Arnie having some 'riff'...was that common knowledge?
His speech was great and I was glad to see that he didn't let the far right stop him from saying 'girly-man'...LOL.