There is too much hate in politics. Arnold Schwarzenegger shows the value of an optimistic attitude

FILE – Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks during a pre-show BMW keynote at CES 2023, Jan. 4, 2023, in Las Vegas. Actor and former governor of California. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to open the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday, April 29, with a pre-recorded video on the importance of a free and independent press. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)
(Jack Dempsey/Associated Press)

There is too much hate in politics. Arnold Schwarzenegger shows the value of an optimistic attitude

California Politics

George Skelton

November 27, 2023

Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently returned to Sacramento and reminded us of a beneficial quality he possesses that is sorely lacking in today’s polarized politics: an optimistic attitude.

There is too much booing, blaming and combativeness going on at the moment

and hated

to make democracy work productively as the republic’s founders intended.

It’s true that it’s easier to be optimistic when you’re super rich and a global celebrity

someone who has risen to the top in three competitive endeavors: bodybuilding, movies and politics.

Conversely, cheerfulness and being an eternal optimist throughout life is certainly a major reason why Schwarzenegger, 76, rose to the top of the list and amassed stardom, wealth and power.

It made him an extremely interesting moderate Republican governor for seven years

not always successful, but constantly trying and courageous.

I was reminded of Schwarzenegger’s value to the political world when he returned to the nation’s capital on November 17, 2003, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his swearing-in as governor after defeating Democrat Gray Davis in a unique recall election.

Here I admit that I have a pro-Schwarzenegger bias on one issue: his positive, hands-on relationship with the news media.

That doesn’t mean he was treated gently in the press. The reporting was often difficult. The Times revealed allegations that he groped women just before the recall election. As governor, Schwarzenegger was criticized in print for his budget policies, calling Democratic lawmakers girlish men and reducing the death penalty for the son of a Democratic ally.

But he chose the Sacramento Press Club to host one of the two first anniversary celebrations. He did

for hours for hours

Question and answer session during a sold-out lunch. A later evening reception, attended by hundreds, was hosted by alumni of the Schwarzenegger administration.

By asking the Press Club to host a luncheon for him, the organization was able to sell tickets and raise several thousand dollars for its scholarship fund to help journalism students.

That was Schwarzenegger’s pattern as governor. Every January, he spoke at a sold-out Press Club luncheon, presented his legislative agenda and raised thousands of dollars for journalism grants.

But not his successors: Democrats Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom.

Brown appeared only once in eight years. Newsom has never done that, although he seemingly takes every opportunity to appear on national television. It wouldn’t matter except that he’s depriving journalism students of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

Without the press, I wouldn’t be sitting here today, Schwarzenegger responded when veteran political writer Carla Marinucci, the luncheon’s Q&A moderator, asked him how he viewed his reporting as governor.

What he meant was that, whether it was bodybuilding, film acting or governorship, if journalists had not informed the public about him, he would not have become a household name. He would have been like the proverbial giant tree that fell in the remote forest.

“I had a great relationship with the press after I became governor,” he said. I am a happy camper.

Unlike so many politicians, especially MAGA Republicans, Schwa


Zenegger did not usually accuse reporters of prejudicial reporting or spreading fake news, even as they ripped off his skin.

That is an example of his cheerful, sunny personality, a trait that applied to his administration in general.

They were without any doubt the best seven years of my life, he told the Press Club.

But his all-purpose faith led to both good and bad decisions.

I loved

I mean loved

challenges, he told the lunch crowd. And I love it when people say: this is not possible. It will be impossible.

The more they said those things, the more excited I got, because I love danger. I hate a boring life, which I call existing. I love living the dangers, the failures and the successes to the fullest.

Schwarzenegger would not listen to people he called naysayers.

Okay, that may be admirable, but it’s a dangerous double-edged sword. The naysayers were usually experienced political and government hands who tried to give the newcomer practical advice.

Wise advice, such as not calling a special election, to push through a package of broad so-called reforms that had weak support. The governor did so anyway in 2005 and was unusually humiliated when voters rejected his measures in a landslide.

I got the message, Schwarzenegger said afterwards.

The governor understood it so well that the following year he promoted $37 billion in infrastructure bonds, which voters immediately approved.

Schwarzenegger’s persistence led voters to approve a crucial political reform: ending legislative gerrymandering in legislative and congressional districts.

But the optimist often overpromised and failed to deliver, as when he promised to rip up the credit cards, end crazy budget deficits, and live within our means. It was a pleasant dream.

Schwarzenegger was so confident that he did not bow to his party base, unlike most politicians. The Hollywood action hero famously spoke the truth at a Republican state convention in 2007, warning that we are dying at the box office. We don’t fill the seats.

He warned that the only way for the Republican Party to win in California was to expand toward the center, rather than retreating into an increasingly narrow corner.

The Republican party considered Schwarzenegger a heretic and withdrew into a much smaller corner.

Now we need new blood in the political leadership, he told the Press Club. New energy, a new way of seeing [problems]. He cited Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Ronald Reagan as the fresh blood of their eras.

But Schwarzenegger insisted he was not criticizing President Biden.

As for former President Trump, look, I don’t want to comment on every stupid thing he says right now [or Ill] sitting here for the next eight days.

Schwarzenegger never left any doubt that he would run for president if he could. The Austrian native is excluded because he was not born in the United States.

“I’m not going to complain about it,” he said. Because everything I have achieved in my life is thanks to America.

American politics could use more of Schwarzenegger’s cheerful swagger.


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