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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  1. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 9 March, 2010, 13:49

    Arnold was torn between working with both sides of the aisle to help the state and appeasing the Rabid Right.

    When he was forced to deal with a horrendous budget crisis by raising revenue, he was crucified by the Rabid Right. When he caved in to the ideologues by pushing some of the most regressive budget measures in California history, he was crucified by the other side.

    I like your Shakespeare version of Schwarzenegger, however. Very well done.

    Reply this comment
  2. EastBayLarry
    EastBayLarry 9 March, 2010, 18:07

    StevefromSacto:
    Since you seem to love throwing bombs at the right, I assume you are one of those lefties.

    I consider myself to be pretty far to the right, although not rabid. When I look at Arnolds’ policies and philosophies, I have to look way far to the left, over the heads of people who think Van Jones is cool and respectable.

    …or maybe you just like to throw bombs to call attention to yourself?

    Reply this comment
  3. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 10 March, 2010, 09:33

    Geez, Larry, I guess you think that anyone who dares question the right-wing hammerlock on state government and the anti-tax zealotry that is destroying our state is a “bomb thrower.”

    Sorry to disillusion you. And I’m not trying to call attention to myself. I am trying to call attention to the hypocrisy and wrongheadedness of the Rabid Right. Can’t let the right-wing propaganda on this site go unchallenged.

    Reply this comment

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