Monday, November 14, 2005

On the Public Service

Patriae Inserviendo Consumor (“I am consumed in the service of my Fatherland”)
Motto of Prince Otto von Bismarck
The BBC reports today that California Governor Ahh…nold Schwarzenegger has received a rapturous welcome from hundreds of adoring Chinese fans, and that the police had to rescue the Governor from friendly crowds in Beijing

Governor Schwarzenegger is in China on several errands: promotional events for the Special Olympics, and conversations with Chinese political and business leaders on, inter alia, trade between China and California, and intellectual property theft, a subject near and dear to the hearts of movers and shakers in California.

I am glad to see people giving the Governor such a warm welcome. No doubt he needed it after his State’s voters decisively rejected his reform proposals last week.

I make jokes about everything – but my tasteless quips about Ahh…nold aside, I quite admire the man. Were it legal, I wouldn’t mind Governor Schwarzenegger being President Schwarzenegger, and that’s a hell of a concession for me to make to a person of foreign birth. I don’t agree with the Terminator about a lot of things, but everything he has gotten in this life, he has most assuredly earned.

But this is true of many people. What is most admirable to me about Governor Schwarzenegger is that he does not have to be Governor – does not need it, but just does the job anyway. Ahh..nold is famous almost beyond imagining, has instant entrée in the most important social and political circles in this country and Europe, has a gorgeous wife, four children, more money than he could ever spend – and he still puts up with being Governor. Certainly, there is an element of vanity in it: perhaps even the predominant element, but this is present in all politicians and leaders. However, ambition is often laudable: this man could have an easier life, but he is, to a degree, sacrificing his ease to the public service.

Governor Schwarzenegger could tell the people of California to take their job and shove it, and, after last week, most people of sense could understand him doing so, and would sympathize. Yet there he is this week, in China, doing California’s business. Yes, yes, to some degree it’s a junket, and he gets the adulation of the crowd, gets to meet big-shots, eat at their banquets and engage in interesting repartee. He also gets to spend his evenings with briefing books, staffers who know too much, and the telephone; all so he can receive gratuitous advice from lobbyists, experts and fixers who need him to do something in China, and whom are all certain they know more than some pretty-boy actor. Oh yes, also letters from lunatics, insults from cranks and wrangling with legislators. All this as head of the minority party in his state, which is chock-full of ingrates and rivals and believers in a free lunch.

Nobody will thank Ahh….nold, but he shows up for work anyway. Good on you, sir. Patriae Inserviendo Consumor.

1 comment:

Dymphna said...


I put this post up for nomination at the Watcher of Weasels. The list will be out tomorrow.