Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Schwarzenegger vs. the (GO)P

With Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger scheduled to speak tonight at the GOP Convention, CNN reports that he "will tell the delegates how he believes his life story shows the viability of the American Dream." Why doesn’t it surprise me that the Governator will make himself the focus at a convention supposedly touting the virtues of the Republican Party and its leader, President George W. Bush.

We all know Sen. Hillary Clinton is already running for the 2008 presidential election, but I think Schwarzenegger is steadily becoming a Republican version of Clinton and will prove to be more of a liability than an asset to the GOP and its future as a governing majority for the nation. Why? He repeatedly addresses political problems as if individual personalities (like his own) are more important than the principles that inform their decision-making. In short, he cannot stop himself from talking about politics as if it was not political. This undermines public debate by teaching citizens that parties are simply instruments of division rather than principled policy-making. Let’s hope his speech tonight is sufficiently partisan, sufficiently Republican, to persuade voters of the merits of both George W. Bush’s reelection and the two-party system in America.

Discussions - 11 Comments

Yeah, but Arnie can’t be President and the President is the leader of the party.

I mean this seriously. Can someone explain to me why "we all know that HRC is already running for president in 2008." This is clearly accepted wisdom in conservative circles, but democrats don’t feel so strongly about it and I see no evidence that it is some certainty. A rationale other than "Because that’s how the Clintons are" would be appreciated.

Re: Arnie can’t be President. Details, details... Yes, the Constitution would have to be amended, but with enough momentum (i.e., popular support) this obstacle would prove a pebble on his path to national office. "A governor from the gurrreat state of California. A proven uniter of the people..." You can fill in the rest.

RE: HRC as the presumptive Democratic nominee for the White House in 2008. Exhibit A: Her book Living History. All serious candidates for the presidency nowadays publish a book of some form, e.g., an autobiography or some reflection on current events that also makes policy recommendations.

Exhibit B: Her run for U.S. Senate in New York, i.e., a state rich in electoral college votes but one through which she had to conduct a "listening tour" to establish she was not merely an ambitious outsider (remember, she held no political office prior to running for the highest elected seat in a state under the U.S. Constitution).

Exhibit C: Her procuring a seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and subsequent support of the Iraq War, which establishes ostensibly her foreign policy experience and makes up for her lack of actual military service--useful for those who will fill the role of commander-in-chief.

Exhibit D: Her early, consistent, and extensive raising of money for numerous Democratic congressional campaigns, which amount to so many chits she can call in when she runs for higher office, esp. an office that requires ground support in many states across the nation.

Exhibit E: Her (and Bill’s) support of Wesley Clark for President, which established that the Clintons were not serious about defeating the incumbent Republican president.

Sen. Clinton is a senator from the important state of New York who is an important figure in the party, garnering a great deal of media attention. She obviously has a lot of ambition for higher, maybe the highest, office. She has a well-known name and a great deal of support among the liberal party faithful. Admit it, she’s a player and political animal. I will agree that it is not a foregone conclusion that she will be the party favorite, but a guess with her is probably as good as any.

For the record, I think the comparisons
between Arnold and Bill are apt. They’re both extremely personable, in some ways quite competent, vain (even for politicians), undisciplined (faniys groping for solutions), and rather libertarian (that is, for both economic liberty and social liberalism). Arnold may be what California needs right now, but he threatens to corrupt the soul of the Republican party as a national figure. It’s a lucky break that he can’t (without the const. amendment) seek the nomination in 2008, given his party’s strange dearth of plausible presidential possibilities right now.

Now that the speech is in the can, it’ll be interesting to hear the comments ... for what it’s worth, I think Arnold did just fine.

Arnold brought a helpful perspective to the Convention - identifying what it was about the party that appealed to someone who didn’t grow up here.

What it was, ultimately, is the devotion to freedom he found in Republicans - we believe, without reservation, that America is worth fighting for; our Democrat friends tend to spend so much time focusing on our national warts that they sap whatever determination they might bring to that task.

Was the speech tonight partisan enough for you Lucas?

Hey, I didn’t hit that button... I swear!

Oh well.

Exhibit F: Dick Morris. He claims that it was the plan from day one, with a constant refrain of "8 for Bill, 8 for Hill!"

"8 for Bill, 8 for Hill!"

"8 for Bill, 8 for Hill!"

"8 for Bill, 8 for Hill!" (oy, vay...)


the Constitution would have to be amended

That is no easy task. There are only 27 amendments and the first ten were a package deal from the get-go. It could happen but it doesn’t happen a lot.

Any crow around?

I thank one and all for their posts on this subject. Sorry for this tardy reply, but I have been spending too much time away from the office traveling and such to follow up on the GAH-vuh-NA-tor’s rousing speech. Suffice it to say, he surprised me with the best speech of the convention. While it did not spell out sufficiently why his television viewing audience should consider voting Republican this year, it did accomplish a few important things and with a verve that simply WOW-ed the crowd. Here’s what I liked:

He was not ashamed to make a partisan speech, using the actual word "Republican" over and over again. Agai, this was surprising only b/c Big Arnold’s standard operating procedure had been to attempt to rise above the fray--"with the politics and the bickering and the arguing and the things of that nature." He succeeded in casting the GOP as the party of low taxes and a strong military. How’s that for a tidy domestic and foreign policy agenda?! The drawback to this was that it made the GOP too economic-oriented, with no appeal to the GOP as the party of life and human dignity--just to mention one key area. Of course, we know where he stands on this, and so he played the good soldier by keeping quiet about his differences with the president on this issue at this time and event.

His line about the U.S., not the U.N., as the best hope for democracy almost tore the roof off with its attendant applause. Great stuff. And his repeating the line about not being an "economic girlie-mahn" was priceless.

Back to foreign policy, the governor made an effective appeal to the hope of liberation world-wide when he proclaimed of the world’s oppressed masses, "They hear the call of our freedom!" Implicit in this statement is the important recognition that freedom is a not only a human or universal ideal but one that now lives as an example to the world in the example of the United States. As the Statue of Liberty proclaims, "Liberty Enlightening the World!" Oppressed peoples of the world see in America a nation willing to fight in defense of their own freedom as well as assist in the spread of freedom to the far reaches of the earth. As Schwarzenegger put it, "America is the great idea that inspires the world!"

In supporting President Bush’s war against terrorism and defense of free enterprise full throttle, he channeled the optimism of Reagan like no one else at the convention (though Mayor Guiliani held his own, as well). All in all, it was a rip-roaring 20-minute speech that hit some major issues out of the park. That said, the "Arnold!" signs flooding the hall and his omission of key GOP planks on the social front allow him to stake his own claim to the mantle of Republicanism once Bush leaves the White House. As I have noted before, the Constitution would have to be amended, but I don’t think a popular public figure like Arnold Schwarzenegger would find this an insuperable obstacle to national political prominence. And so I will let that great editorialist from the LA Times have the last word on this whole episode:

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