Tragedy of Arnold Schwarzenegger

Maybe we should look at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ill-fated term as governor as a Shakespearean tragedy. A “fatal flaw” brings down an heroic character.

For Hamlet, the “fatal flaw” was hesitation; for King Lear, a desire to retire and carouse with his soldiers; for MacBeth, listening to his bloodthirsty and ambitinous wife; for Othello, jealousy.

For Arnold, it has been the actor’s fatal flaw, something the Bard would have understood: a desire for adulation from “the people,” as he always calls Californians.

When he swooped into office in 2003, he could have done anything. Specifically, he should have restored the Gann Limit, which limited spending to increases in population and inflation. Then-state Sen. Tom McClintock, the wisest man on the budget, urged him to do so many times; so did I when writing editorials for the Orange County Register. Had Arnold done so, he would have solved the budget crisis he inherited and could have done anything he wanted for the rest of his time in office.

Instead, Arnold took the easy way out and in 2004 pushed a $15 billion bond measure on the voters, who in their adulation approved it, pushing the problem into the future.

In the next year, 2005, Arnold lost a plank of reform measures, then “went native,” joining the Capitol tax-and-spend crowd. He backed AB32, which is killing the economy. And in 2009, he pushed through tax increases, breaking every solemn anti-tax pledge he ever made.

Maybe some future playwright will write “The Tragedy of Arnold Schwarzenegger.” It might begin something like this, words spoken by Arnold:

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of Cal;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our pumped arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums chang’d to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.

–John Seiler


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