Schwarzenegger: “I’ll Be Back!”

As always, the electoral race for governor of the US’ largest state, California, is attracting considerable media attention both within the country and outside, what with the contest turning out to be a winner-take-all struggle between that state’s “Governor Moonbeam” of the 1970s, Jerry Brown, and the former eBay executive Meg Whitman. On the other hand, 2 November will also mark the beginning of the term’s end of the current California governor, a fairly interesting figure in his own right. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has himself been the subject of concentrated attention over the course of his original election campaign in 2003 (as a result of the recall of then-Governor Gray Davis) and then subsequently, particularly by the German-speaking press as the classic “local-boy-makes-good-in-Hollywood” story. And so we have this interesting piece in the German news-magazine Focus on the “Governator’s” possible follow-on acts.

(As you’ll see, if you’d like to click through, the piece’s title is “Hasta la vista, Governator!” and I can’t pretend to condemn that as trite or clichéd – actually, I had wanted to use just about the same phrase as the title for this post!)

Ah yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, survivor of two terms as California governor – meaning he did manage to win re-election, in 2006, although his current 28% approval rating means he wouldn’t be able to bet on doing it again, even if the law allowed – and the ultimate RINO. That’s “Republican in name only,” as he famously clashed with the Bush administration over environmental policies. Plus, it’s quite clear – even though he won’t admit it – that he’d prefer Democrat Brown to succeed him over Republican Whitman. The former is after all still his State Attorney General and in fact an enthusiastic fellow-warrior for a number of measures he advocates, most especially reform to the state budget process.

But anyway, where does the Governator go from here? What does the man say himself? He’d like to write “a book or two,” he has stated, but of course he’s already written a number of books, about body-building but also an autobiography. It so happens that someone else has a book out – entitled The Governator, natch, by Ian Halperin, in which he alleges that Arnold has long had a “master plan” to first persuade the American nation to amend the Constitution to allow the President to be foreign-born, and then of course to run for the office himself – not as a Republican, this time, but supposedly as an Independent appealing more to a right-wing Democratic political base. But the Focus piece is quick to add that the Governor’s official spokesperson was quick to dismiss The Governator as “trash.”

One thing does seem sure: He has long been interested in alternative energy, in particular his “Hydrogen Highway” project of bringing about a widespread automotive infrastructure based upon hydrogen-powered fuel cells, and this is something he has pledged to assist whether in or out of office. Otherwise, another clue to how he might occupy his time is contained in the recent Sylvester Stallone movie “The Expendables,” in which Schwarzenegger takes a cameo role as a mercenary-team leader. Then again, the Focus writer has clearly seen the film and was paying close attention: at one point Schwarzenegger’s character exclaims “only an idiot would take this job!”

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