Wednesday, September 01, 2004

New and Old Republican Heroes

I don't have much time to blog these days. But I caught some time to watch pieces of Republican National Convention on TV. The most interesting thing about was, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger's speech.

Other bloggers are probably going to post gigabytes of text praising or criticising Schwarzenegger or expressing their views on the ultimate impact of his speech. I would only say that I was a little bit surprised.

Before the convention, Schwarzenegger was often being described as "liberal" Republican. What I heard was a speech that advocated militarism and pandered to the American chauvinism. Schwarzennegger even called his old country "socialist" and equating welfare states of Europe with Socialism is favourite pastime of Red Meat Conservative Republicans.

But the biggest shock came when he confessed who had brought him to Republican Party. He mentioned the name that was supposed to be banished forever from Republican conventions – Richard Millhouse Nixon. Yes, Schwarzenegger dared to break decades-long taboo and finally rehabilitate the most notorious president in American history.

Actually, this rehabilitation isn't that surprising. It is only the inevitable phase in the long process of shifting historical perspectives. Moralistic shock that had brought such infamy to Nixon has worn off through years. Post-1974 epoch has brought not only Iran-Contragate but entire inflation of "gates". New generations, brought up in the age of moral relativism, and those who had grown up in 1980s, are more cynical. Compared with some of the characters who had came later, Nixon is less of villain and more of a tragic figure. He went down not because he was particularly corrupt, but simply because he was unlucky. It is very possible that future generations would see Nixon as some kind of tragic, almost Christ-like figure who paid for the sins of entire American political class.

And there is, of course, more universal explanation in the form of nostalgia that paints distant past in rosy colours. Today, when people think of 1970s, they don't think of oil shocks and inflation – they think of cool disco music, cocaine as harmless recreational drug and herpes as the worst thing that could happen to overly promiscuous people. Even certain icons of infamy can benefit from such phenomenon.


Blogger DarkoV said...

Arnold has, on occassion, stumbled and stated that his muscles were NOT all naturally developed. He has suggested that he has had some "chemical" assistance. It has been proven that use of steroids do affect one's mental capacities. It was obvious that his were definitely affected on Tuesday, when he was speechifying. He mentioned he was listening to a debate between Nixon and Humphrey one night in 1968 as the elcetion campaign was in high swing. He was so impressed with Nixon's rhetoric that he decided, at that instant, that he was a Republican. The only problem with that memory is that it's based on something that never happened. Nixon & Humphrey NEVER debated each other that election year. Arnold's story, like a lot of the swill that the Republicans are throwing up at the convention, was based on something that never happened. And I thought Bush & his posse were so against the false fabrication of Hollywood...

2:38 PM  

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