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by David Peterson
Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2003 at 5:11 PM
One witnesses account of Schwarzenegger's campaign kick off.
By David Peterson
Arnold Schwarzenegger began his campaign for governor on Friday with a meet and greet in the Republican stronghold of Huntington Beach in Orange County. I had come to Main St. Huntington Beach to run some errands and grab some lunch but instead landed nose first in a strange and wonderful zoo.
As we arrived at noon, news vans were parking illegally and large crowds were already forming in the type of madness usually associated with the Monsters of Rock. The excitement was in full gear as occasionally you’d hear full grown men giddily recounting their favorite lines from the action stars repertoire while the more bold and comically inclined clumsily meshed the slogans with current affairs. “Hasta la vista, Davis.” “I will terminate the deficit.” For my part I was busy thinking up the best way a star of his magnitude could make an entrance. On a tank perhaps? Leather jacket and motorcycle ala T2 would have thrilled the fans but I think some sort of explosion followed by our gubernatorial candidate repelling from the roof or possibly a helicopter would have been more fitting and driven the mob into a frenzy.
After an hour of waiting, the tide of people drifted toward a commotion, as did I, figuring it may be Arnie. Instead a young dark skinned boy with a confusing sandwich board was taking abuse at the hands of the impatient crowd. “Germany had an Austrian artist once. It didn’t work out.” A convoluted reference for sure, and while comparing Schwarzenegger to Hitler may be unfair the horde became unduly enraged. Young men hurled angry comments, an old man hurled trash and a brother/sister pair no more than 9 and 11 shouted the best lines while their mom, only slightly embarrassed hushed them. “Go back to San Francisco you hippie!” “Go hang yourself!” My sister leaned to me and whispered, “Goodbye Jude!” It was an unusually ugly scene for Huntington Beach’s pristine Main Street and luckily the rabble-rouser soon melted back into the crowd.
After about two hours of waiting the fans were getting restless and even the fifteen-year-old brunette who kept flipping her hair at passing motorists was waving her “Join Arnold” sign with a little less zeal. Just like any good action film, however, the good guy appears only when all hope is lost. The anticipation grew as word came down that the Terminator was approaching on foot and one feisty young man tore through the tightly packed mob yelling “I got his signature!” While it doesn’t mean much to me but I’ll bet it brings a good deal more playground fame than a Cruz Bustamonte autograph.
At last, the golden top of Arnold’s head began popping through as he made his way in front of the cameras. He was wearing khakis and a blue shirt three buttons down (read: “Hey, I’m not like those stuffy politicos! I’m just a regular guy like you!) and was smiling profusely as he was introduced by Republican Rep. Dana Rhorabacher (R). (Who recently sent me the most charming form letter in response to my concerns about FCC deregulation. I hadn’t realized that fewer media outlets actually create more diversity because the conglomerates that own them look for “niche” markets.) Back on the ranch, there was an explosion of thunderous applause followed by a rapt hush as Schwarzenegger grabbed the bullhorn and gave a three-minute stump speech about kids being our future and bringing fantastic jobs back to California and when he mentioned October 7th someone screamed “Judgment Day!” and the pack cheered wildly. The fact that the bullhorn’s battery died about twenty seconds into the speech didn’t seem to bother anyone. Neither did the rambling platitudes. In the end there was a furious eruption of applause as Arnie was ushered into the back seat of a black Yukon (just like a regular guy!) and speed out of sight.
My head was spinning, trying to grasp the meaning of it all and as the mob dispersed we shuffled slowly back to our car. On the way we passed a giant stuffed bear placed on a bench. Someone had put a t-shirt on it that read “The Governator”. I had to laugh. After today, it wasn’t that strange.
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|fractionalize and lose.
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