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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of October 22 - 28, 2003

Opinion Column

Arnie and Wes:
political ‘hot’ guys

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

One is the Terminator who smashes box office records. The other is the "terminator" who helped smash armed military resistance in Bosnia.

The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger is plagued with tales of groping, while Clark is pestered by other Democrats who’re groping for ways to tarnish his rising star.

These two, whose first names of Arnie and Wes are instantly recognizable in political circles, also are the hottest figures in the election industry.

Which speaks volumes about the state of American politics: Voters seem turned off by politicians who’re fixtures in public life and turned on by celebrities with little or no political experience who explode on the scene like fireworks.

But there’s always the question—will mere celebrity carry them through or will voters in time demand stuff over fluff?

Wesley Clark is the new darling of Democrats. He dillied, he dallied, he hemmed and hawed, and finally jumped into the crowded Democratic field and thereupon soared in public polls.

Schwarzenegger, an immigrant who parlayed muscle power into power over film studios, has become so vital to Republicans nationally as governor-elect of voter-rich California that even President Bush went out of his way to pay a well-publicized courtesy call on a man that critics dismissed.

Make no mistake. Schwarzenegger is no empty vessel, as critics said of the incurious George W. Bush during the 2000 election. Schwarzenegger charted and achieved his own amazing career with mechanical precision, presides over a considerable empire of personal investments and will become CEO of the largest U.S. state government without a lick of traditional political experience, and without the benefit of a family name as George Bush enjoyed.

Clark, whose experience in "politics" was limited to what most four-star generals do—polish apples with Congress, keep foreign allies in the field happy, impress superiors at promotion time—also has risen quickly to a political pinnacle.

Schwarzenegger can never run for president, unless the U.S. Constitution is amended to accommodate foreign-born citizens. Whether Clark will become president is problematical.

Democrats, however, are making an enormous mistake with Clark that Republicans aren’t making with Schwarzenegger.

Clark’s opponents—Kerry, Lieberman, et al—have blundered by handing Bush reelection strategists all sorts of nasty grist for the 2004 campaign with their attacks on Clark. Their allegations would surely end up as GOP ammo against Clark if he wins the nomination.

But wisely, no matter how distasteful Schwarzenegger’s election is to more socially conservative, mainline Republicans, they’ve zipped their lips rather than aid Democrats with GOP criticism of the actor.

The GOP controls 27 statehouses. Bank on this: none of the other 26 will get the tender loving White House attention that California’s new governor will receive.

Schwarzenegger has made grandiose promises. The Bush White House probably will do everything to see that he succeeds, including special favors to California that other states can only dream about—and their Republican governors fume in silence about.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.