Welcome to Arnold, King for a Day

Article excerpt

Gray Davis, good riddance! Into the political coffin with you and off you go to the crypt. The line I remember from your inauguration speech in Sacramento back in 1998 was your creepy pledge that you would be "death on violent crime." You let your voice peck at the word "death" like a vulture tasting a corpse, and I remember thinking then what a degraded creature you were, serf of the prison warders' union and of anyone who shoved enough money into your money sock, the threadbare soul of the Democratic Party.

You played the politics of death all the way through. There are prisoners in California, convicted of murder a couple of decades ago, who've served their full sentences, who kept a perfect record of good behavior and who still rot behind bars because you wouldn't sign off on their release. And then, in case anyone had forgotten what you were like after four years, you poured out cash to keep Riordan off the Republican ballot, denouncing him because he might be soft on Death.

You had it coming to you, Governor Davis, and just look at who knocked you off: the blue-collar workers, the Hispanics who put you in Sacramento. They looked at their utility bills, looked at the economy of California and above all looked at you, shuddered and said Yes to recall; then, some of them, Yes to Bustamante; but many, Yes to Schwarzenegger.

Yes to Arnold, breast-grabber in the finest traditions of the Democratic Party, like Bill Clinton and back beyond him the satyr of Camelot, JFK. Yes to Arnold, who may or may not have been soft on Adolf Hitler. What does that mean at this distance? It doesn't look as though Arnold wants to wipe out the Jews. Maybe he knows Hitler was the first Keynesian, and that's the bit of Adolf's legacy he cares about.

Besides, Hitler's a waxwork bogy. Reagan proved that when he went to Bitburg and returned from the SS cemetery there unscathed. You want to talk about up-to-date echoes of Nazism? When it comes to ethnic cleansing, daylight murder of political opponents, lethal thuggery and institutional racism, just look at who votes, week by week, month by month, in full-throated verbal and financial support of such practices in Israel in the US Senate, if not the two Democratic senators from California, Feinstein and Boxer.

Californians like the sun, and when they looked at you, Governor Davis, they saw the gray of your name, and on your face the sexless pallor of death and corruption. Better to have Arnold as an intimation of the golden life.

Here in London, as one who wrote a book titled The Golden Age Is in Us, I took myself off on a Saturday to look at an exhibition in the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, called "Paradise," a traveling show that had already been shown in Bristol and Newcastle, attracting 160,000 people, apparently double what they would have expected normally in those galleries. People want to know the lineaments of paradise, whose earthly possibilities utopians used to spend much time usefully describing, though not much anymore. …