Two writers weigh in on the psychological subtexts of the latest in
Frank Rich's references are Disneyland with a little bit of Hitler:
The Audio-Animatronic Candidate
As for the young Arnold's ruminations about Hitler, sure there was fire to go with the smoke. Otherwise, why would the star have overpaid $1.2 million in 1991 for the exclusive rights to "Pumping Iron" and its outtakes? But whatever his sloppy words about the Führer back in the 1970's, his statements about governance in general were more revealing and more to the point of his campaign. Mr. Schwarzenegger's credo was laid out quite specifically in his autobiography, "Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder": "A certain amount of people are meant to be in control. Ninety-five percent of the people have to be told what to do, have to be given orders." This philosophy, which he has repeated elsewhere and never retracted, sums up his politics far more than conventional conservative-vs.-liberal, Republican-vs.-Democrat paradigms. The budget deficit? Failing public schools? Mr. Schwarzenegger will make things right by terminating the malefactors from on high; let the other 95 percent of "the people" get out of the way. What was the plan? "Hasta la vista, car tax!" Such know-nothingness is not Nazism; it's too idea-free even to qualify as fascism-lite. What the Arnold platform really amounted to was a steroid-inflated codification of the trust-me paternalism of Disney's Celebration.
Yet, I don't want to suggest that this is a simple repeat of anti-immigrant Proposition 187 in the context of a recession and a nationwide crisis of state financing. Arnold Schwarzenegger does add something genuinely novel to the mix. He is not just another actor in politics but an extraordinary lightning rod, both in his movie persona and in real life, for dark, sexualized fantasies about omnipotence. Pleasure in the humiliation of others -- Schwarzenegger's lifelong compulsion -- is the textbook definition of sadism. It is also the daily ration of right-wing hate radio. As governor he becomes the summation of all smaller sadisms, like those of Roger Hedgecock that in turn manipulate the "reptile within" of millions of outwardly affluent but inwardly tormented commuter-consumers. In their majesty, the predominantly white voters of California's inland empires and gated suburbs have anointed a clinically Hitlerite personality as their personal savior.