Sunday, May 29, 2005

Governor Pothole

Remember back in the day when Al D'Amato was known, frequently through clenched teeth, as "Senator Pothole"? It's a handy bonding-with-common-man trope used by desperate politicans to show that they love The People so much, why they'll roll up their sleeves and go out and shovel shit at the stables. Message: I care.

Arnold Schwarzenegger cares, so much so that he had a San Jose road crew create a pothole just so he could be witnessed grooming it with an asphalt rake.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to a quiet San Jose neighborhood Thursday, and -- dogged by protesters -- filled a pothole dug by city crews just a few hours before, as part of an attempt to dramatize his efforts to increase money for transportation projects.

The choreographed press opportunity -- at least the governor's fourth recent event involving transportation issues -- seemed aimed as much at thwarting the demonstrators who have followed Schwarzenegger for weeks as grabbing new attention for his proposal.

You have to love the sheer gall of the guy, corralling a well-compensated city PW crew for another one of his dippy publicity stunts. Message sent and received, Chief. You care so much, you have us peons pay these union hacks $35/hr. to turn a crack into a pothole, so the cameras can catch the filling of it.

It's all just another episode in the Kabuki theatre that comprises the life of Herr Gröpenführer. To attempt to ascribe meaning to this nonsense would be like trying to cut through the thicket of jumbled syntax and stubbed-toe oratory of George W. Bush.

Schwarzenegger strode toward television cameras on Laguna Seca Way to the sounds of the Doobie Brothers' "Taking it to the Streets,'' while flanked by 10 San Jose city road workers wearing Day-Glo vests and work gear. After speeches by the governor and city officials, a dump truck backed up and unloaded a mound of black asphalt and, as television cameras recorded the moment, Schwarzenegger joined the work crew, taking up a broom and filling the 10-by-15-foot hole, later smoothed over by a massive roller truck.

The Doobie Brothers? Really? How 1981, dude. It's as if he left this event to put on some medallions, unbutton his silk shirt halfway, do a couple lines, and head to the drive-in to see if he could score any of the babes waiting to see Cooley High.

I mean, half the songs in the rock n' roll canon contain some reference to driving and/or the putatively freeing aspect of same; and this was the song he settled on to get his message across? Jeebus. He might as well have picked Foghat's Slow Ride.

Well, maybe the residents of the neighborhood at least enjoyed the little show. Let's find out.

The governor's brief San Jose appearance, announced at the last minute, left some residents scratching their heads.

"For paving the streets, it's a lot of lighting,'' said resident Nick Porrovecchio, 48, motioning to a team of workmen setting up Hollywood-style floodlights on the street to bathe the gubernatorial podium in a soft glow.

Porrovecchio and his business partner, Joe Greco, said that at about 7 a. m. they became fascinated watching "10 city workers standing around for a few hours putting on new vests,'' all in preparation for the big moment with Schwarzenegger.

But their street, he noted, didn't even have a hole to pave over until Thursday morning.

"They just dug it out,'' Porrovecchio said, shrugging. "There was a crack. But they dug out the whole road this morning.''

"It's a lot of money spent on a staged event,'' said Matt Vujevich, 74, a retiree whose home faced the crew-made trench that straddled nearly the whole street. "We still have the same problems. Everything's a press conference.''

D'oh! Guess not.

Media advisories for the morning San Jose event were not issued until two hours before it started, and -- in an unusual move -- reporters were not provided with a location, but told to assemble in a parking lot where directions were distributed.

Indeed, the traffic event was such a well-kept secret that a row of spectator seats was mostly unfilled. City officials, road workers and media outnumbered neighbors, many of whom said they learned the governor was around only because of heavy police presence.

Rob Stutzman, the governor's communications director, said there was no attempt at secrecy and that the logistics were set up so the event would have minimal impact on the neighborhood.

But the governor's staff was similarly closed-mouthed about his scheduled fund-raiser later Thursday. While Schwarzenegger's chief fund-raiser Marty Wilson acknowledged that the governor would dine with about "40-50 business leaders'' at a private location in the East Bay, he wouldn't reveal the site, saying only that it was "south of Walnut Creek and north of Pleasanton.''

Oh man, this is rich. Too hilarious. So what we've got here is the tough-guy action hero on the run from nurses and teachers. If being a "girlie man" is bad, then what is it when you're the sort of wuss who hides from said girlie men?

Why don't you just run along back to one of your rich out-of-state distributors of thick envelopes, tough guy? You're on your way out; California does not need any more of your mindless catch-phrases and cartoon antics.

I never thought Arnold Schwarzenegger would make me miss a tool like Gray Davis, but then I never thought a mouth-breathing pud like George W. Bush would make me miss an oversexed galoot like Bill Clinton. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

What we are finding out here, both at the state and national levels, is that politics is an actual skill, and that mere soapbox populism gets nothing done once the cameras are off and the crowd has gone home to watch Rob and Amber Get Married. Actual work is involved, actual skill and attention is required, and all the stale script lines in the world won't change that. Davis and Clinton understood that, regardless of how off-putting their respective antics could be at times.

This may date back to Arnold's appearance at the Republican National Convention last year. Until then, he had been very adept at controlling the scope of his appearances and coverage, and managing his talking points very closely. But an event of the scale of the RNC required broader vision, and Arnold failed in that regard.

Oh sure, he talked a good game about poor immigrant kid making good in the land of opportunity. But he also invoked Richard Nixon as his avatar of grand political thought. Nixon was a smart guy, no doubt, and more socially moderate in domestic matters than many of his detractors may think. But he is still the epitome of corruption in government for most Americans old enough to remember.

Further, Arnold embellished his land of opportunity script at the RNC with a story about his childhood in Austria, about being practically surrounded by occupying Soviet tanks. Both Russian and Austrian authorities have said that the Soviets had long withdrawn out of Styria province by the time young Arnold would have been aware of the world around him. So he's a bullshitter to boot, and all this was brought up almost immediately after the RNC.

It's easy to sneak up on rubes at Applebee's and wow them into supporting you while you're in the room, but people who are serious about policy and the formation thereof know a huckster when they see one. And after Schwarzenegger gets voted out next year, and sees his political career die on the vine, I'm sure he will do well helping Bob Dole sell boner pills during nightly network news commercial breaks.


Anonymous said...

Hey just followed a link from somewhere else -

Man, good stuff! No wonder he's a republican. This needs more coverage.


Heywood J. said...

Thanks. Spread the word!

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Anonymous said...

Here is an interesting piece of information that I have gathered through the Latino Grapevine in Dallas. There is a new amazing pothole filler that anyone can use (no special expertise is needed), that will revolutionize road and parking lot repairs. Why is this big news? Because its political ramifications and games being played by Government officials at all levels (City, State, and Federal). Michael Gonzalez (a key business figure in Dallas) claims that this pothole filler offered by a company in Dallas called CRC) can create as many as 6,000 new jobs for latinos by next Spring. This is good (if it's true) for the Latin community and it will solve our pothole problems in the State of Texas. Michael Gonzalez claims he can pick up a phone to Governor Schwarzenegger and that he and his aunt personally know George W. Bush. He also claims they know all the candidates running for Texas Governor.
Michael Gonzalez is very influential in the local Latino community and has connections with the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. I advise you to visit CRC’s website for more information:

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