Enemy of the Week

Terminator Limits

Democrats sure could use a friend like Kurt Waldheim.

8.8.03

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Concerns about Arnold Schwarzenegger's Republican bona fides were quickly laid to rest with new revelations of his Nazi Party connections.

Stormy trooper Katie Couric led the blitzkrieg, smearing as if signaling she's prepared to give the man a full body massage. She rattled off marijuana in his past, steroids, a father suspected of war crimes, sexual harassment charges and even signs he's "committed infidelity." Boy, that bird can sing. Bringing up the rear in his arc, Tim Noah, reminded the world of Kurt Waldheim's role in the pairing of Arnold and his bride Maria Shriver (who, it should be noted, shares a first name with the lead of The Sound of Music, Austria's Oklahoma! and former UN Secretary General Waldheim's favorite musical, at least up to the point where the Nazis start losing). But more importantly for the purpose of Arnold's Republican identity, he's now managed to do what all GOPers have so far been unsuccessful in doing and that is to get liberal TV reporter Shriver off the air. If there are any regrets regarding Arnold's past it's that he didn't marry Katie Couric.

Democrats sure could use a friend like Kurt Waldheim. Term limits was once their big worry. Now they sense the Terminator has limited them. They thought it a huge injustice Gray Davis was being limited to less than two terms. They were going to correct the outrage, and to nationalize the California recall as an example of Republican beerhall putsch tendencies. Davis traveled to Chicago to secure backing of Big Labor's Capones. Bill Clinton and Lady Clinton were poised to handle the rest. Dianne Feinstein did her part by announcing she won't run. The rest isn't her story.

Arnold announced, and Democrat unity disappeared beneath the San Andreas fault. Now key Democrats are running to replace Davis, or denouncing him, or zipping their lips and throwing away the key. The courts haven't cooperated. The recall law is crystal clear, so naturally the Dems expected a judge would find it unacceptable. No such luck. Davis wanted to appear on both parts of the ballot, in effect to allow himself to be defeated and reelected in one swoop. Sorry, bud. A major effort was made to postpone the election, on the grounds that two months won't allow for a real campaign. Those who now call the recall window untenable used to complain about the excessive length of American campaigns and contend we should model ourselves on European parliamentary campaigns which last something like six weeks tops. Here's the reformers' chance and they go wobbly!

Democrats are being taught an unprecedented lesson: if your man has ratings somewhere in the low twenties and most voters long ago wrote him off as insufferable, it's not surprising that an all-out effort to save his skin will go nowhere. It will even backfire, dragging down those who refused to face the situation honestly.

Then again, Davis's real mistake was in inviting the Clintons in while snubbing the real leader of the Democratic Party. So as California was left to burn Al Gore wowed them in New York City. Invoking standards over which he had no controlling legal authority, the former Gore accused the Bush presidency of total disregard of "honor and integrity" in its policies and persona. He denounced Bush's Iraq policies from A to Z and back to A again, then added for good measure: "The removal of Saddam from power is a positive accomplishment in its own right for which the President deserves credit." Not even Howard Dean would be so fair-minded, though let there be no mistaking it: Al Gore on Thursday announced he's back in presidential contention, and this time he intends to run to the left of the left, the Bobby Kennedy to Dean's Gene McCarthy.

Al is so ahead of the curve it's frightening. Following in the steps of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who in violation of the oath she swore now openly boasts of using trendy foreign laws as models for her rulings, Gore went out of his way to denounce Bush policy on the basis of what was said in Germany to a German publication. In his speech he cited Nobel Prize winning economist George Akerlof telling Der Spiegel "last week in Germany" that Bush's "is the worst government the U.S. has ever had in its more than 200 years of history" and his policies are "a form of looting." (Nice touch, that, given German understanding of "looting.") Gore's intent was clear: to make it appear that Akerlof is a German so as to strengthen the charge made against a lowly unilateralist American regime. In fact, Akerlof is American born and he's an economist at UC Berkeley. Even better, which Al also withheld, Mrs. Akerlof worked for Bill Clinton. In other words, what we have here with Herr Professor Akerlof is the male equivalent of a Dixie Chick. From now on we won't listen to his music. In 2001 he shared his Nobel Prize with two economists. This week he shares his Enemy of the Week prize with Al Gore and Katie Couric. Long may they loot.

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