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Truth is Dumber Than Fiction

2003-08-21 - 9:14 a.m.

Now, let's say you're running for a high ranking government office, in a race bloated with candidates ranging from the ridiculous to the emminently qualified. You yourself have absolutely no history of working in or for the government, with the exception of serving on a presidential physical fitness council and having a wife from a prominent political family. In fact, you're background is entirely in the entertainment industry, and although this means you will be the most visible candidate in a vast field, it also means that your candidacy can be construed as a joke.

In such a situation, you would want only the best campaign advisors your considerable finances can buy. You'd want people with experience in every level of politics, someone with connections and a cutthroat attitude not only towards your advisaries, not only towards the press, but with you, someone who will make sure that you are always kept abreast of the issues, someone who will make sure that you never looked uninformed, underqualified, or stupid.

In short, you need someone who can help a president get elected, then go on to his own senatorial campaign, and finally work as a partner in a high profile law firm.

And that's just what Arnold Schwarzenegger has done. There's only one problem.

The advisor in question has done all these things . . . on TV shows.

That's right, Arnie has hired, as a campaign advisor, none other than Rob Lowe.

I wonder if Arnie realizes that, in real life, Rob Lowe is best noted for being fired from The West Wing and for, shall we say, indecorous sexual practices.

Now, I'm the first to admit that making jokes about the California recall is like shooting fish in a barrel. The list includes a porn actress and Gary Coleman, for heaven's sake. One can't help but pity the legitimate candidates, like Lt. Governor Bustamante, and even the semi-legit ones, like Arianna Huffington, who would at least serve as a catalyst for richer debate even if she has no shot of winning and even less business running a state with a budget crisis (for the record, I love Arianna Huffington's column and highly recommend that anyone reading this journal subscribe to it, but there is a difference between writing about/petitioning the government and running it). All issues, however, will be swept aside by the tidal wave of celebrity sparkle that surrounds Arnold, as every writer with a penchant for witty headlines begins every substantive article with phrases like "Hasta La Vista, Davis!" and "After Losing Debate, Arnold Vows 'I'll Be Back!'

In fact, it makes me wonder if the choice of Rob Lowe might not be brilliant. It's almost as though Arnold is confronting his complete lack of qualifications with a toothy grin and a smug little "Not like it matters." Or rather, "Noht layik eet mahttehs." Potential Governor Schwarzenegger seems to be looking California, even the entire country in the eye, and making a statement that, when all is said and done, we don't care about the issues. We don't know and can't fathom and refuse to address the problems facing California and our nation. We are frustrated by an economy that has MBAs applying for jobs as receptionists, an international relations policy that has left us virtually friendless in the world, and the myriad other issues that divide us enough for over 100 gubernatorial candidates to enter a race, many campaigning on single issues, others running out of nothing more than self interest. And don't get me started on the carnival of ineptitude that is the list of candidates for Democratic Presidential nominee.

Arnold offers us an alternative. You don't want rhetoric, you want t-shirt tag lines. You don't want a puffy geek, you want a square jawed muscle man. You don't want a governor who will weigh the issues and wade through the bureaucracy. You want The Terminator (the one in the second movie, for preference), the guy who'll kill the Predator, protect John and Sarah Conner, create an atmosphere on Mars, become a Kindergarten teacher, and use this all this experience kicking ass to save a state who lists, among the LEAST of its worries, the constant danger of falling into the ocean. And for those of you who worry about goverment experience, never fear. Here's Sam Seaborn! He knows Josh and Leo and CJ and Toby and everybody! Any government bureaucracy that can't be handled by a machine gun and a well timed quip can be taken care of by four years experience pretending to work in the White House and a pair of pretty blue eyes.

And when you think about it, who wouldn't rather have fictional characters running the country? As The Stupid Bully was deciding that he had to go to Iraq to find His Precious--I mean, Weapons of Mass Destruction--there was a lot of talk and laughter about "Wouldn't it be great if The West Wing were real, and we had Jed Bartlett as our president?" That talk only got louder when Martin Sheen began speaking out against the war himself. I've been catching up on shows I missed on Bravo, and let me tell you I would love it if the White House Chief of Staff were as rational, noble, peace-loving, and intelligent as Leo McGarry. I watched this episode where Bartlett talks about the Pax Romana, how no Roman citizen need ever fear no matter where in the known world he walked, because the might of the Roman army would come down on any nation that harmed a citizen like the Wrath of God. Leo responds by saying that the only way to achieve that peace is to ride out like Charlemagne and kill everyone in the world, and that is that is what the President intends to then the first army he'll have to face will be Leo's own.

Let me tell you, I nearly cried when I heard that. I wished to God that there had been someone like that in The Stupid Bully's face, reminding him that when your father is the leader of the free world, there will be thousands of people who want to kill him, so sit down, shut up, and fix the goddamn economy, you coke-addled little brat. And try not to cost more American lives, while you're at it.

However, there is no Leo McGarry in the White House. I hope there is, somewhere. I hope to one day I can turn on the TV and see a government run by people who I hold in the same esteem as Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, and the rest of the gang. However, I also know that I admire those people for their skill as actors, not as politicians. I know that no matter how much intelligence, objectivity, and compassion Anna Deavere Smith may demonstrate in her performance art, it doesn't qualify her to be Head of the NSA.

It also doesn't qualify Rob Lowe to work on a campaign, particularly if he's going to make comments like this:

"I know that when I'm on a set, I want to know who the director is. I don't want to have to guess. That's what Arnold will bring to this state. He's a leader."

I'm a director, too. I like to think I'm a damn good one. It doesn't mean I should run California.

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