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Patt Morrison

When a Candidate Goes AWOL, Let His Characters Stand In

September 09, 2003|Patt Morrison

Arnold Schwarzenegger enlisted in Austria's army, not its air force, but he's an ace at flying the missing-man formation.

Schwarzenegger went AWOL from the army to compete in a bodybuilding contest, winning a title that got him his start -- at the price of a few days in the stockade. Maybe going AWOL in the debates will work to his advantage, too.

This morning's gubernatorial debate will go on without him, just like all the others, save for the one invitation he has accepted, for Sept. 24. This RSVP record may be bad democracy but it's brilliant politics: Put your guy in one debate and one debate only -- the one where the candidates get the questions in advance -- so there's only one set of video clips, one set of sound bites of your guy at the top of his game, for the press to use over and over again.

Until there's a real Schwarzenegger in a debate, we'll have to make do with the virtual one, culled and cobbled together from lines from his movies:

Moderator: Good evening, and welcome to this debate in the recall election for governor of California.

Arnold: Hi, guys.

Moderator: Question for Mr. Schwarzenegger: Why didn't you take part in the other debates?

Mr. S: I don't do requests.

Moderator: Why not?

Mr. S: I'm not into politics. I'm into survival.

Moderator: Mr. Schwarzenegger, what is your concept of effective gun control?

Mr. S: If you drop your gun now, I promise I won't kill you.

Moderator: I see. And what weapons would you ban?

Mr. S: The .45 Long Slide, with laser sighting. Phased-plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.

Moderator: Candidates, health-care costs have risen while insurance covers fewer and fewer Californians. How have you prepared yourselves to deal with this crisis?

Mr. S: I have detailed files on human anatomy.

Moderator: How would you summarize your health-care policy?

Mr. S: Just don't throw up on me.

Moderator: Apparently you don't think this is a serious problem?

Mr. S: Exactly.

Moderator: Well, what model should we not follow?

Mr. S: In socialist countries, insurance not necessary. State pays for everything.

Moderator: And you don't favor that?

Mr. S: I don't know. Maybe.

Moderator: Some economists say the state should hike income taxes on the richest Californians to raise revenue. What about that?

Mr. S: I think the taxis are bulletproof.

Moderator: Taxes, not taxis.

Mr. S: If I must suffer, humanity will suffer with me.

Moderator: Agriculture is enormously important here. What message can you as governor send to encourage farming in California?

Mr. S: You wanna be a farmer? Here's a couple of acres!

Moderator: Panelists, please state briefly what you think should be done with what remains of bilingual education in California.

Mr. S: No problemo -- hasta la vista, baby.

Moderator: California's expensive energy contracts are blamed in part on energy companies gaming the electricity markets. How would you deal with this?

Mr. S: Anger is more useful than despair.

Moderator: Then what would you say to Kenneth Lay and other energy executives?

Mr. S: I live to see you eat that contract, but I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I'm going to ram it into your stomach and break your ... spine.

Moderator: Have you come up with some items to cut from the state budget?

Mr. S: Yeah, but they were all bad.

Moderator: So we face severe cuts?

Arnold: Not much choice.

Moderator: Gov. Davis mocked your accent, then said he was joking. What is your response?

Mr. S: Levity is good; it relieves tension and the fear of death.

Moderator: And what is your assessment of Gov. Davis?

Mr. S: This man is totally insane. He's killing us one at a time.

Moderator: Many questions have been raised about your past -- sexual conduct, use of steroids and marijuana ...

Mr. S: Ask me a question I would normally lie to.

Moderator: Did you ever break the law?

Mr. S: That's private.

Moderator: With all due respect, you've given detailed interviews.

Mr. S: I'm not a pervert! I was just looking for a Turbo Man doll!

Moderator: Gov. Davis alienated the Legislature by saying it was there to implement his vision. How would you work with the Legislature?

Mr. S: I don't know what the problem is, but I'm sure it can be solved without resorting to violence.

Moderator: I hope so. Can you be more specific?

Mr. S: I work alone. My team works alone.

Moderator: Then what would your message to legislators be?

Mr. S: If you're not ready to act, give me a break and shut up.

Moderator: Some have suggested changing Proposition 13 to adjust exceptionally low tax rates for big corporations that pay a fraction of what middle-class homeowners pay. What's the likelihood of you supporting that?

Mr. S. Tonight, hell freezes over.

Moderator: So no changes?

Mr. S: Exactly

Moderator: Yet Warren Buffett said it should be changed, and you made him your economic advisor.

Mr. S: I did?

Moderator: There's talk of modifying the three-strikes law to include only violent felonies. Do you support that?

Mr. S: NOT!

Moderator: What is your message to three-strikes felons?

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