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A New Kind of Politics?

Jul
5
2004

Finally, finally, someone has gotten around to doing a quality profile of Gov. Terminator. The July 28 issue of The New Yorker has the best, most intelligent treatment of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life, his political ambition and his marriage to Maria Shriver that you’re likely to see. It’s an important piece, not just for what it says but how – and where – it makes its case.
It took someone who isn’t cowed by and who understands the power of celebrity – as it’s used in and outside Hollywood — to really look at the governor. Connie Bruck, known for her savvy and well-reported books on Drexel Burnham, Time Warner creator Steve Ross and Hollywood power broker Lew Wasserman knocks another one out of the park with her piece on Schwarzenegger.


The story isn’t available on-line, sad to say, but the mag has put up this interview with Bruck which provide a short synopsis.
The highlights: Maria Shriver is very involved in her husband’s political life; Schwarzenegger has presidential ambitions that should be taken seriously and his shrewd and calculated understanding of how to use his celebrity to manipulate things to his advantage – personally and politically – should not be underestimated. In fact, if there’s one theme in this story it is simply that Schwarzenegger prefers to be underestimated, kind of the way crocodiles like being mistaken for dead wood.
Regular readers who have been following my belief that Progressive Libertarians and their zeal to make government less costly and more efficient, their distrust of party politics and the danger their upper income idealism poses to the traditional Democratic Party agenda, should pay careful attention to what Kennedy kid Maria Shriver says about how Schwarzenegger fits into the national political scene. Shriver gets to gush because she’s talking about her husband but remember, she has grown up in bare-knuckled Democratic Party politics (the Kennedys play hardball and she was reared in Chicago, not exactly a politically polite town) and worked for years as TV reporter. Arnold’s not the only calculating mind in the family. These remarks are deliberate and purposeful.
When I asked Shriver about bipartisanship, and Arnold’s affinity with it, she replied “I think you will see more and more of that. I think that when people yearn now for John McCain it’s a direct result of that. People come up to me all day long, every day, ‘Omigod, Arnold’s doing a great job – I didn’t even vote for him and I fell like this is a whole new way of looking at politics.’ I don’t think anybody’s naive enough to think you can come together on every issue, but I think people see that there is common ground between parties on certain issues. I think most people who grow up in one party or the other or are stepped in politics, they look at the other side as the enemy. I mean, that’s my experience. And Arnold has never done that. He doesn’t ask people what their party is, doesn’t ask them where their parents are – he doesn’t get bogged down in a resume, so to speak. And I think that’s refreshing to people.
What’s great about Arnold is that he’s not closed-minded to the other side, and he mixes it all together. I have met thousands of Republican women who are pro-choice all over California – women who are fiscally conservative, running small businesses, had tradition family values but want a women’s right to choose. I used to call certain kinds of Catholics ‘cafeteria Catholics,’ and I think that now you have a huge amount of cafeteria Democrats and Republicans who aren’t strictly one way – they may call themselves Republicans, but they’re not voting on a party line, or they’re taking aspects of the party they identify with and mixing it up into their own version.”

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