Friday, August 08, 2003

Not following Noah.

I always find something interesting and useful in articles Timothy Noah writes for Slate. They are always well-researched and well-written, unlike so much of what passes for journalism in my hometown newspapers (NYT, Post, etc.). Today's article on Arnold, California Governorship, Waldheim, and Nazism just confused me. Noah writes,

Rather, Schwarzenegger was likely playing politics—to be more specific, Austrian politics and family politics. For years it was rumored that if Schwarzenegger didn't run for governor of California, he would run for president of Austria. Because Austrians have long resented what they see as Waldheim's pointless scapegoating, any firm denunciation would have ruled the latter possibility out.

This makes sense. This is politics we are talking about. Arnold is not running for governor as a crusader for correcting moral wrongs and bringing justice to the Golden State, but instead as someone with an acute business sense and enough money to resist "being bought by special interests". And of course his name recognition and his wife's family legacy. Granted, he has now decided not to seek an Austrian presidency so there is little hurt politically to denounce Waldheim. However, family reasons remain, and I do not see how Noah jumps to this conclusion:

If Schwarzenegger doesn't renounce Waldheim in a highly public way, he can forget about ever becoming governor of California.

Huh? What did I miss? Who in CA remembers Waldheim? Given our current relationship with the United Nations it might be bigger liability for Arnold that Waldheim was U.N. Secretary General than a former Nazi. As the article notes, Arnold has carefully cultivated an impeccable anti-Holocaust image when he

...proclaimed his disgust for Nazism, raised money for education about the Holocaust, traveled to Israel (where he met with then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin), and given generously to the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, which in 1997 bestowed on him its National Leadership Award. "He wants no truck with … Waldheim," the Wiesenthal Center's Rabbi Marvin Hier told the Jerusalem Post. "He probably did not have any clue as to the seriousness of the allegations against Waldheim at that time [i.e., 1986]. To suggest that Arnold's an anti-Semite is preposterous. He's done more to further the cause of Holocaust awareness than almost any other Hollywood star."

I do not see how Kurt Waldheim might ever really tarnish Arnold's chances in this race, and he can always denounce Joerg Haider for the racism nazi that he is.


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