FUN, FUN, FUN
There’s just too much on my plate right now.
Between the Vincent Gallo/Roger Ebert feud and the California recall, there was already so much for me to read, think and write about. Now Fox News is suing Al Franken?
Can my life get any better?
It’s hard to tell what Fox News’ primary agenda is: compromising its integrity as a news organization, opening itself to ridicule or promoting Franken’s book (now #1 on Amazon.com).
But it sure is fun.
Fun is important to me. I think fun is important to everyone.
Just look at the appeal of Arnold Schwarzenegger for Governor. It’s not that people agree with or even know much about his politics. It’s not that he’s yet another political outsider vowing to clean up the system (ho-hum). It’s not that people love his movies. It’s just that Governor Schwarzenegger would be a real blast.
Already, the commentators and columnists and talk show monologue writers are having the time of their lives. As soon as Arnie announced his candidacy, you could practically hear the media wonks plumbing IMDB for headline puns. Now it’s a “Total Recall”. He’s “The Running Man”. It’s the “End of Grays”. He’s “The Governator”. He’ll “Jingle All the Way to Sacramento”.
If there’s one thing Gray Davis is not — and, okay, there are a lot of things he’s not — it’s fun. And I think people are tired of boring leaders. Governor Schwarzenegger would make headlines every day, with every witty thing his speech writers wrote for him, with every completely non-political public event he attended, where he and Maria would wave to the cameras as the latest It Couple. He’d pass some silly laws that would get him lots of attention and give people even more to write about.
Look how much fun Jesse Ventura was. And I don’t give a crap about Minnesota.
Politics has always been a popularity contest. The catch was that none of the choices were very popular to start with. That’s why politicians spend millions of dollars trying to make themselves popular. Arnold comes with prepackaged popularity. He doesn’t have to beg the media for airtime, let alone pay for it. Freed of the burden to manufacture an image, he can afford to focus on the thing good politicians can do without trying: amusing the public.
The most successful politicians are the ones who manage to become celebrities, who transcend the inherent boringness of holding political office. Bill Clinton is a prime example. Two and a half years after he left office, he and his family are still as much tabloid fodder as Ben and J-Lo. (Am I punctuating her nickname properly?) Most people you ask can’t name a single policy initiative Clinton spearheaded — which is not to say he didn’t govern well. It’s just that that’s not what gets the news coverage. Most people also can’t name a single Clinton cabinet member. But everyone knows Monica Lewinsky.
Bill Clinton is well-liked not for his politics but because he entertained us briefly.
Al Gore was a lot like Clinton and agreed with him on most of the major substantive issues. But Gore was no fun. George W. Bush is fun. He’s a moron. He says stupid things that get quoted and passed around in emails. He passes scary laws that frighten us and undermine our Constitution. He starts wars.
Okay, it’s a little different when it’s the president since, you know, a President actually has power. But what power does the governor of California have? Gray Davis has been in office for five years and hasn’t done anything. Schwarzenegger couldn’t do much worse, and he’s a guaranteed good time. It’s win-win.
The practical, concerned citizen in me definitely wants Gray Davis to beat back the recall and finish out his term. But the writer and media junkie in me can’t help thinking about how much fun it’d be to turn on the TV on October 8 and see Arnie standing in Sacramento, with one hand on a Bible, turning to the cameras and saying, “Hasta la Vista, Gray!”