It’s about time

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From the Publisher/Arnold G. York

All my life I’ve been named Arnold. I must confess I wasn’t always thrilled about that. Let’s be frank. There isn’t an Arnold alive who wouldn’t have rather been called “Rock” or “Rip” or in a pinch, maybe “Rod.” It was just one of those names that mothers pick, never thinking about how it was going to sound when you arrived on the playground. Had I been raised in the Midwest with a name like Arnold, I probably would have been doomed to be a myopic, nerdy momma’s boy, but fortunately, I was born and raised in Brooklyn. That’s in New York City, as some of you may know. In Brooklyn there were certain immutable playground rules of syntax, handed down through generations to protect young men from the mistakes of their parents. If you had a two-syllable name of questionable desirability, like Arrrnold (which is the way my mother pronounced it, especially when she was upset, which was often), you had two choices. You either became Arn, which was acceptable, but not the preferred pronunciation, or you became Arny or Arnie. It was unspoken but generally agreed that all the Italian kids named Arnold were called Arnie. Although I must admit those Italian kids were few and far between because their parents tended toward names like Antonio. It was a generally accepted convention that if your name ended in a vowel, you were Italian. Even the Jewish kids whose names ended in a vowel were considered almost Italian. Therefore, the Jewish kids, like Arnold became Arny, Bernard became Berny and so on.

I’ve gone through this rather lengthy explanation of name-ology to put our current events into perspective because, I suspect, to be raised Arnold in Austria wasn’t much different than being raised Arnold in Brooklyn. It took a certain focus of will, a mild amount of pugnaciousness and a hardness of purpose to arrive at adulthood relatively unscathed and eager to do battle. And it’s with that understanding that I turn to our pretender-to-the-throne of California, the other Arnold, not the little one, but the big one, who intends to bring government back to “de peeples.”

The question in my mind is, is he the man-of-the-hour or just the next 15 minutes? The answer to that will unfurl in the next 60 days, which is short for a political campaign for governor but in politics still a very long time. I don’t know whether Arnold is the man, but there are certain things to look for.

Who is he and what does he really believe?

I know what the Terminator believes in, I’m just not sure what Arnold believes. If he stands up and tells us what he really believes in he’s going to take some heat, but that’s one of the measures of a man. I never much agreed with Ronald Reagan, but I never had any doubts about who he was and what he believed in. Gray Davis has been in public life for decades and who can really say what he believes other than getting Gray Davis re-elected.

Will he talk about the issues?

I can tell you what his handlers are telling him. Smile, wave and move. Surround yourself with kids, look like a governor and answer nothing. So far, that’s the game plan. I know that because my son, Tony, up in Sacramento, sent me a copy of the media advisory he received from the Schwarzenegger campaign yesterday. It reads:

* * * Media Advisory * * *

Schwarzenegger Schedule for Aug. 12

There are no scheduled public events and no media interviews will be granted.

Does he really need to talk about the issues?

For now, his campaign is betting that celebrity can carry him through the next 60 days. The rather cynical conclusion is that politics and show biz have become the same thing. If his team can control access to Arnold, keep away the media wolves who want to ask the tough question, keep him moving, only let nonjournalist journalists like Larry King interview him, then he can sweat out the next 60 days and he’ll be the next governor of California. In that respect, they may well be right. Davis is finished. Everyone’s polls say the same thing. He’s going to be recalled because most everyone has already made up their mind and don’t appear to be inclined to change it. There does not appear to be enough undecided voters to turn that around. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante has a base, but

he’s a rather colorless politician and unlikely to create much momentum.

So, fundamentally, this is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s race to lose. I suspect that within the next few weeks there is going to be a vast amount of material coming out on Arnold. There will be sex stuff, drug stuff, family history stuff and temperament stuff. If he handles it well, he’ll be the next governor of California. If he implodes, it’s anyone’s race.