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Takin’ It To the Street


Ya gotta figure something’s really changed when Jay Leno has become the state’s premier political journalist. When The Tonight Show starts selling transcripts we’ll know the divide between entertainment and politics has finally been bridged.
The folks in Sacramento keep blaming this direct too-the-people approach on Schwarzenegger’s arrogance or egotistical belief in his ability to talk to the people. Or something. I got another take: Until Gov. Terminator can find some reason to take the political press corps seriously, he’s not gonna. This is as true for the press, by the way, as it is the legislature and the Republican Party. Until Gov. Terminator needs you, he doesn’t.

So he’s going to keep putting on his leathers and inviting New York Times reporters to go biking (motorcycles) and making about-face decisions in public – first his candidacy, now his stance on gay marriage – on TV shows where he’s comfortable. Schwarzenegger’s just spreading around the good cheer. He boosts Leno’s ratings – always good in the tight late-night market. And his appearance with former governor Gray Davis, which sprinkled a little star dust on the man he helped throw out of office was almost gracious, wasn’t it?
In short, what we got here is either the best or the worst of both worlds. Like Jesse Ventura to whom he is often disparagingly compared, Schwarzenegger has the star power to talk past the politicians and the press. But unlike Ventura, he’s got the political savvy not to waste people’s time. He’s also more disciplined. And, in final contrast to Ventura, Schwarzenegger has a skin as thick as a rhino’s; with an evil grin, too. Take a look at that Meet The Press tape – the transcript just doesn’t do it — and watch how Schwarzenegger insults his host with joke after joke. He can’t be embarrassed, he can’t be shamed. At least not so anyone can see.
It’s early – we’ll know tomorrow just how well this performance is working with voters. But the new era of good feeling, which Schwarzenegger has dubbed his new “bipartisan coalition” – what one Sac insider I know calls “letting smart people run things” – might be the politics of our future.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:20 PM | Permalink

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