Total Recall

Everybody Loves a Fascist

More strife in the Republican Party: a self-proclaimed moderate running for governor has been attacked by conservative true believers for "improper" behavior. His sin: boasting in print about his past exploits. The candidate, of course, is Peter Ueberroth. In other news, a 1977 Oui magazine interview in which Arnold Schwarzenegger brags about participating in a gang bang has been attracting wide media attention.

Ueberroth—who, unlike his rival for the hearts of Republican moderates, has remained silent on the topic of gang bangs—was sued by the Ronald Reagan Foundation for mentioning Reagan in his official candidate's statement. Ueberroth's official campaign website makes the unremarkable claim that during the 1984 Olympics he worked with both LA mayor Tom Bradley (a Democrat) and Reagan (not a Democrat) and there was "no partisan bickering." Amazingly, the Reagan Foundation, which operates the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley and claims total control over any use of the not-quite-late-but-not-quite-present president's name, found this objectionable. The foundation insisted that using Reagan's name could create the impression that the senile ex-president was endorsing the candidate. Demonstrating his commitment to the truth and his belief in the value of unfettered speech in politics, Ueberroth immediately caved in and agreed to remove Reagan's name from the pamphlet. Left unexplained is how the endorsement of a man currently notable only for the sad depths of his dementia could have been considered a boon.

If the Reagan Foundation is really interested in going after candidates infringing on their Reagan trademark, it should sue Schwarzenegger. Arnold has been mimicking Reagan's strategy of participating only in carefully stage-managed events. The closest he's come to an unscripted moment was when he appeared via phone on a few conservative talk-radio shows, but even then his campaign set down firm conditions to make sure Arnold wouldn't face any unpleasant surprises. As revealed in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Arnold agreed to call the shows "only on the conditions that the interviews last no more than 15 minutes and no [listener] calls be taken." On the shows, Arnold even occasionally demonstrated a Reaganesque grasp of the issues, telling Sean Hannity's listeners that he believes "gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."

Since he continues to hide behind his campaign's choreography, there's nothing to do but go back and see what Arnold was saying in less guarded days. While most of the attention so far has focused on the Oui interview (in which Arnold proudly claims he is one of "the guys who can fuck in front of other guys"), a November 1990 U.S. News and World Report Schwarzenegger profile is far more revealing. The article focuses on whether Arnold was using his position as Bush the Elder's chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness to help lay the groundwork for a future political career. Arnold, then as now, coyly avoids any substantive questions, though he does say some things that hint at what kind of governor he might be. "I was always dreaming about very powerful people, dictators, and things like that," he says, attempting to explain the boyhood roots of his ambition. "I was always impressed by people who could be remembered for hundreds of years or, like Jesus, for thousands of years." As for what this streak of megalomania means in practical terms, the article quotes Arnold as saying: "My relationship to power and authority is that I'm all for it. People need somebody to watch over them. . . . Ninety-five percent of the people in the world need to be told what to do and how to behave."

Arnold has shown a great aversion to numbers so far in his campaign—insisting he can't understand the state's budget, and won't be able to until after an outside audit—so it's hard to say if he stands by that 95 percent figure. But last month, he told the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung he was running for governor because "the state is sinking rapidly" and "it needs a strong man to stop this slide," so maybe that 95 percent is the one number regarding California he has confidence in. It would certainly explain why he's campaigning the way he is.

 
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