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Guest Contributor
Joe Armendariz

Theater of the Absurd
Progressive flicks opened this weekend...
[Joe Armendariz] 9/17/03

Confidently believing that the historic state recall election was only days away, Republicans and Democrats were busy last weekend sporting their own unique brand of political entertainment. In Los Angeles, (R)nold Inc. swooped into the Grand Old Party's Political Convention hurling conservative-tested, establishment-approved rhetoric with all the force of Hurricane Isabel.

In partisan theaters across town, Democrat politicians were being featured. In Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Cruz Bustamante could be seen delivering another re-invented campaign theme: "Go Slow on MEChA, Vote Yes for Bustamante!"

Meanwhile, starring in Matchstick Men were none other than Gray Davis and Bill Clinton. Attempting a political comeback of sorts, these two political thespians were portraying pathetic politicians desperately trying to rally Democrats around their own political theme: "Vote No on Recall, Vote Yes on Bustamante, Vote yes on Race-baiting, Vote No on Prop. 54, Vote No on Fiscal Responsibility, Vote Yes on Tripling the Car Tax, Vote No on National Security, Vote Yes on Giving Drivers' Licenses to Illegal Aliens...." and so on. The Democrat crowd went wild -- it just couldn't seem to get enough of this stuff.

But the most confusing line was delivered by the once relevant, former president Bill Clinton who said, while bashing the Bush tax-cuts; "Don't tell me about class warfare, I'm all for wealth and business. I just think we all ought to go up together." Even though the partisan audience broke out in loud applause, when asked about the statement upon exiting the theater, nobody could explain what the line actually meant. But then again, the same was said about his Presidency.

Meanwhile, back at the GOP Convention, and only after (R)nold Inc. had left the building, Tom McClintock was heard delivering the most audacious and utterly outrageous political lines of all.

Regarding his Candidacy:

"Now is the time to unfurl our banners and showcase our principles in bold, vibrant colors...not hide them in pale pastels."

Regarding Davis' decision to triple of the Motor Vehicle License fee:

"The Car Tax is a tax on a necessity of life and not a penny goes to our roads."

Regarding Education Funding:

"I think significant savings can be achieved by substantial reductions in the bureaucracy while increasing the funds getting into the classroom."

Regarding Illegal Immigrants:

"Placing valid state identification documents in the hands of illegal immigrants undermines our ability to enforce our immigration laws."

Regarding Proposition 54:

"I do not believe a person's skin color should govern how their government treats them."

With lines like these, how McClintock can actually expect to receive support from Republicans is a mystery. After all, when it comes to solving the state's multitude of problems, all of which were imposed on it by the Democrats, "Hasta La Vista, Baby" and "Ill be back" are no match for actual policy prescriptions. Maybe McClintock should find a new agent.

Conventional wisdom says the voters hate issues and that explains why (R)nold Inc. is avoiding them the way Cruz Bustamante is avoiding the gym. But, still, it might be helpful, prior to October 7 (or March 2004), if voters could hear an idea or two come out of the Terminator's campaign. Pick an issue (R)nold, any issue: the broken down workers compensation system? How about the imploding public-employee retirement system? What about the state's crumbling transportation infrastructure or the exorbitant cost of electricity? Hasta La Vista, ideas!

Perhaps it was the consistently idiotic but iconoclastic comedian Bill Maher who provided audiences with the best line of them all when he quipped: "what does Arnold know and when will he know it?"

Joe Armendariz is Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Industrial Association and the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association.



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