Political purists are quick to scoff at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s entrance in the race to replace soon-to-be recalled California Gov. Gray Davis, citing the “Terminator’s” lack of experience and instant credibility given to him by the public because of his movie star status.
With the “instant cred” often allotted to celebrities in political races, it’s a wonder our state and federal governments aren’t filled with Hollywood types. Ronald Reagan is often held as the epitome of movie-star turned politician. In truth, however, Reagan’s transition from actor to statesman was complete and total because he abandoned his acting career by the time he committed to the political arena in the mid-1960s.
Every now and then we have movie stars and other celebrities who enter politics, but it’s usually temporary and often unsuccessful. Nancy Culp, who portrayed Miss Jane Hathaway on the “Beverly Hillbillies,” once ran for Congress in her native Pennsylvania. This effort was thwarted through a series of commercials by her Republican opponent featuring – of all people – Buddy Ebsen who called Culp a liberal.
There are other celebrities who were and are successful in politics. Ben Jones, who played “Crazy Cooter” on the “Dukes of Hazard” represented Georgia in Congress during the early 1990s and Fred Grandy (Gopher from the Love Boat) still serves in the House of Representatives. Of course, Grandy had to give up acting to concentrate on his new career.
The reason politics isn’t dominated by “celebrities” is simple. Politics is not easy. Sooner or later one of these stars-turned-statesmen will learn that.
Jesse Ventura ran for governor, was elected and quit after one term.
With all the problems in California – mass unemployment, a $38 billion deficit, fleeing businesses – it is a wonder that Schwarzenegger would want to step into this mess.
Politics, aside from the train wreck currently experienced by the Golden State, is a tough job.
Just ask Sen. Charles Colgan, D-Manassas, how tough governing is when he has to lock himself in a room with five other angry lawmakers to hammer out a $52 billion (balanced) state budget each year. The “Terminator” wouldn’t last two minutes in a Virginia budget conference committee.
Here are some other political endeavors Arnold or other Hollywood types would have a tough time handling:
? Being the mayor of New York during a blackout.
? Being the mayor of New York when the power comes back on.
? Sitting on the Prince William Board of Supervisors during an eight-hour public hearing over smart growth, slow growth, no growth, etc. “Citizens’ Time” alone would make Schwarzenegger’s head explode.
? One year as Dumfries Town Manager.
? The head of VDOT. That position may be opening up soon.
? The chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, having to deal with the sheriff.
? The Prince William County sheriff, having to deal with the chairman of the board of county supervisors.
? One day as governor of Virginia, trying to explain tax reform. (Actually, we’d like to see our real governor spend one day doing that.)
Then again, stepping into fill the final three years for a failed California governor may not be too bad after all. Any way you slice it, however, it’s no glamour detail.