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The ex-Terminator for Obama Energy Secretary?

By Joe Romm on November 1, 2008 at 12:57 pm

"The ex-Terminator for Obama Energy Secretary?"

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Until yesterday, the The Great Mentioner had Schwarzenegger on the shortlist for Obama Energy Secretary. That was the buzz in the Politico’s “Dems sketch Obama staff, Cabinet,” and on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, where Arnold said of Obama:

I would take his call now, I will take his call when he’s president — any time. Remember, no matter who is president, I don’t see this as a political thing. I see this as we always have to help, no matter what the administration is.

True, the Terminator runs on nuclear power, but Schwarzenegger has probably been the most aggressive governor and the country in terms of embracing climate policy and climate solutions. Plus he gives Obama some bipartisan cred.

But Arnold totally trashed Obama yesterday in Ohio, presumably some long-ago promise he made McCain. He rather gratuitously ocked both Obama’s policies and physique (!):

“I want to invite Senator Obama because he needs to do something about those skinny legs,” he said to loud and amused roars. “I’m going to make him do some squats. And then we’re going to make him do some biceps curls to beef up those scrawny little arms.”

He then turned to the political impact of his message. “If only we could do something about putting some meat on his ideas,” he said, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. “Senator McCain on the other hand is built like a rock.”

And if you were left with any doubt about where Arnold stood politically, he repeated the absurd “socialist” attack, adding his own laughable and hypocritical spin:

Schwarzenegger, an Austrian native who came to the U.S. in 1968 to establish his bodybuilding career, said he left Europe “because socialism has killed opportunities there.” He said in recent years Europe has recognized its mistakes and “rolled back Soviet spread-the-wealth policies.”

“Now Sen. Obama says he wants to pursue the same spread-the-wealth ideas that Europe had decades ago,” Schwarzenegger said.

During his speech, the governor recognized the awkward position of having to tailor his speech to McCain’s anti-tax message while having proposed raising taxes this week in his own state to offset an estimated $10 billion revenue shortfall.

“Now just because you want to raise a tax certainly doesn’t make you a socialist because in California I have proposed a temporary sales tax increase to address our massive deficit,” he said. “But Sen. Obama wants to raise the taxes because of ideology. He wants to raise all kinds of taxes. He wants to raise the taxes on capital gains and dividends.”

Not really how you begin a job interview. Given these remarks, Schwarzenegger would seem to be the self-Terminator.

As a final aside, the job of Energy Secretary is not what it’s cracked up to being. You get blamed for all the bad things that happen on energy but you don’t actually have any power. Heck, only about a quarter of your budget goes to energy! It has long been thought of as a second or third tier cabinet position. And if Obama goes the smart road and sets up some sort of a National Energy and Climate Council, the energy secretary will have even less clout. More on this after the election.

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7 Responses to The ex-Terminator for Obama Energy Secretary?

  1. rpauli says:

    Arnold has world-wide branding and media savvy. He is hosting a climate conference after next week.

    A cabinet position or govt appointment might just work to constrain him.

  2. Joe Galliani says:

    And therein lies the problem with our Govenator – his life’s training is to read from the script someone else wrote for him. No one pretends he’s a deep or original thinker or a voracious reader. As an environmentalist I like the writing in the green script he reads from, but I don’t for a second believe he’s sincere about any of it. He simply knows that the public likes that green character and that storyline works for him.

    He’s had plenty of opportunity to support the nuts and bolts of green legislation necessary to make the goals of AB32 more reachable and he hasn’t carried through. Too many times Arnold has ruled in favor of business interests over the environment. Arnold has a different applause-generating character he plays for California business interests.

    That’s the same way I view his performance in Ohio yesterday. I don’t think he believes a word he said about Obama or McCain, but he sure did know how well that Columbus audience would respond. They love them a “girly-man” reference there in the heart of Buckeye America.

    The key to Arnold has always been his ego. He craves the attention, applause and adulation of the crowd.

    He gave us all a big clue to what makes him tick a few years back when all the propositions he supported went down in flames. After the election, he said that he had learned his lesson, the people had spoken and he was now against all the things he had just spent months supporting. Reporters asked him, “But what about the ideology behind all those issues?” Arnold laughed and said, “I don’t care about ideology, I care about winning!”

    Arnold at his core is simply a performer who yearns for the approval of the audience. There isn’t anything he wouldn’t say if he thought the script would go over well with the crowd he was working that day.

  3. David B. Benson says:

    Off-topic, I suppose, but locally regular is down to an astounding $2.559 today!

  4. hapa says:

    re OT: this and this are good about oil prices. summary: oil prices are behaving a little like the receding wave before a tsunami.

  5. Joe, weren’t you Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration? So this is an inside insight of yours, that its a thankless powerless job.

    But would it have been, with a Democratic Senate? Didn’t things only become impossible after the Republicans got control of the Senate in ’96? Wouldn’t you have been able to do more if you had had a real Democratic majority?

    (And we may just possibly get another shot at that in January?)

  6. But, just about the Terminator, and his fondness for script and applause:

    Perhaps, if the intellectual and policy decisionmaking part really is as powerless as you say, —and you should know!—

    then the Terminator might be just the ticket: he would become the face of climate change prevention policies, rather than Al Gore.

    It might mute the attack by the denier industry.

    Once prominent Republicans spout off on it, then there might be less resentment and resistance from that side of the aisle? At least among constituents?