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Schwarzenegger the Irrelevant, Bustamante the Racist
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Thirty-One
by Brian S. Wise
5 September 2003

Schwarzenegger may well do damage to California Republicanism; Bustamante may well be a racist.

If you were reading this column in February – and you should have been, especially on Tuesday, 18 February – you learned there was such a thing as the effort to recall Gray Davis (if you had not already known), and you heard for the first time that no matter what happened, it was not going to go well for Republicanism. “All that has been competently explained is that the Davis approval rating consistently hovers around 30 percent, that the State is $30 … billion in the red, and that the debt increases in the amount of $27 million every day. All bad, but none of it speaks directly to why Davis should be replaced immediately, only to the fact he is incompetent and a failure as a leader – not unlike a nice percentage of all public officials, once you think about it, up to and including those who caused the remainder of this country’s oft-discussed State deficits.”

Furthermore, “Substantive efforts before [2006] could well do damage to the State [Republican] party …. It’s better to allow Gray Davis to spectacularly flame out on his own, at which time Republicans will be challenged to clean up the mess the best they can. Anything other than this, most especially in a losing effort, is a black eye the party cannot be allowed to suffer.” (In the interest of fairness, I also said Davis would not be recalled if the thing came to blows; that now appears to be incorrect.)

Reaction to the column was cool, but if, at this stage of the proceedings, you cannot clearly see that very serious damage is being done to California Republicanism, you are either ideologically blind or ignorant. Any effort where Arnold Schwarzenegger is taken seriously – as anything other than a fading action film star – by a large percentage of Republicans is an insult to the party and the people of California, many of whom take the future health and welfare of their State very seriously, seriously enough to know Schwarzenegger was a joke from the moment he walked onto the Tonight show set.

And yet, there are ongoing discussions as to whether or not Tom McClintock should withdraw from the race, in theory forcing Republicans to throw their collective support behind Schwarzenegger. Excuse me: why is it not the case that Schwarzenegger should be asked to step aside in favor of a Republican who can speak competently on the issues without having to hole himself up for crash courses for the purposes of debate preparation? California’s problems certainly revolve around the typical politician, and I am sympathetic to the idea of the outsider riding into Sacramento and forcing change onto a political body that has no legitimate interest in changing itself. But Arnold Schwarzenegger stains an already tainted recall effort, and to support him is a multiple-election cycle death penalty for California Republicanism.

Speaking of typical politicians, there are such things as politically sensitive racial standards. One should not, for example, take to a microphone and say that if a Dixiecrat had been elected president instead of Truman, there would not have been all “the problems” we experience nowadays. Such things are difficult for your party to explain away when subsequent waves are kicked up, and so it is better to go very far out of your way to avoid the mistake in the first place.

Which says everything of “nigger,” causing one to wonder why Cruz Bustamante felt compelled, in a 09 February speech, to refer to “nigger labor organizations” in a speech to black union leaders after several times referring to them as “Negro labor organizations.” In that case, Bustamante continued speaking for 10 minutes before apologizing for the usage and spent part of the next day calling and apologizing to the likes of Willie Brown and Maxine Waters, that being the end of it. No talk radio appearances explaining himself, no visit to BET, no skewering in the national media, no accusations that his were slurs emblematic of his party’s core beliefs about minorities, et cetera.

Bustamante claimed his was a “slip,” a luxury Trent Lott did not have (and should not have had; he was wrong). But all rhetoric aside, what we know about “nigger” is that it does not roll off the tongue in the same way, say, “ass” would when you meant to say “as,” or similar. “You don’t make a slip like that,” Gwendalyn Bello was quoted as saying, “unless it is something you say normally.” Something to consider.

Brian Wise is the lead columnist for IntellectualConservative.com.

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