Thursday, September 25, 2003

The "Super Bowl of Debates"?

AP photo That is how wannabe California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger labelled last night's lively forum featuring the so-called top candidates vying for Gov. Gray Davis' job in the re-rescheduled Oct. 7 recall election. ABC News reports that the debate was quite lively:
The moderator at one point said he was dizzy from the quick, loud and aggressive banter.

Schwarzenegger was criticized for supporting a divisive ballot initiative nine years ago that would have prevented services for the children of illegal immigrants.

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a Democrat, came under fire for taking millions of dollars in Indian casino money. Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock was told he had the facts backward on the economy, and independent Arianna Huffington was hit for barely paying income taxes.

Meanwhile, Green Party candidate Peter Camejo stayed above the fray, saying, "I'm trying to be respectful to everyone here."

The debate ranged from questions on balancing the budget, whether the car tax should be repealed and what to do about health care. The answers provided few surprises since the candidates have all staked out positions on the major issues.

But the diversity of views among the major candidates was amply displayed from Camejo's demands to tax the rich to McClintock's pledges never to raise taxes; from Bustamante's plea for driver's licenses for illegal immigrants to Schwarzenegger's insistence those licenses endanger California because they don't include background checks.
You can read a transcript of what what was said, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

To many, the fun -- or frightening -- part of the event was Schwarzenegger's attack on Independent candidate Arianna Huffington. As ABC News reports:
At one point, Schwarzenegger took a shot at Huffington for targeting the Bush administration as the source of the state's problems.

"If you want to campaign against Bush, go to New Hampshire," Schwarzenegger said.

The tension between the two peaked when Schwarzenegger began to cut Huffington off and she said, "This is the way you treat women, we know that. But not now."

Schwarzenegger replied, "I just realized that I have a perfect part for you in Terminator 4," getting laughs from the audience but a rebuff from the moderator.

After the debate, Huffington said the "Terminator 4" comment was an offensive reference to a scene from "Terminator 3" in which Schwarzenegger's character stuffs a female robot's head into a toilet.

"That was such a clear and ambiguous indication of what he really thinks of women," she said.
At Blogcritics, filmmaker, playwright, and former California gubernatorial candidate Brian Flemming (rightly) takes issue with Ah-nuld's scary show of misogyny:
I'm on record as not being too terribly concerned about Arnold's past orgies with men and/or women. As a former candidate for governor, I wouldn't want people to hold my past sexual excesses against me, either. Some stuff I don't even remember, but I'm pretty sure someone took pictures, so there's a glass-house thing going on here.

And in fairness, I'm sure lots of people at one point or another have wanted to shove Arianna Huffington's face into a toilet. And I'm not saying these private fantasies are, per se, wrong, in one's own head. There are no thought crimes. Whatever floats your boat, as long as it stays in your boat.

But this guy wants to be the governor of California. And he said this during a public debate.

Even if you find Arnold Schwarzenegger's casual misogyny amusing (I personally find it frightening), isn't there a fatal judgment problem here for a would-be governor?
I surely do. More frightening is the notion that this revolting movie star is one of California's top candidates for its top political job. My respect for Maria Shriver is at an all-time low.

"Super Bowl of Debates"? Nah. But let's hope the event brings some Californians to their senses. (NO on recall! NO on 54!)

from all facts and opinions

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