The Austrians have not had an easy time, though. "I cannot translate any of his remarks into Austrian -- it would be outrageous," despaired Barbara Gasser, the reporter for the Vienna newspaper Kleiner Zeitung.
Her problem was Mr. Schwarzenegger's standard campaign speech, in which he refers repeatedly to the need for strong leadership in California.
The translation of "leadership" in Austrian is "führerschaft," and the only word for "leader" is "führer."
Those words are just as ominous in German as they are in English, and they have been avoided entirely by Austrian and German politicians since the end of the Second World War.
"I cannot translate this into Austrian -- when he says 'I'm calling for new leadership' or says 'I want to be a new leader' -- there's no way to report this. I'm just going to say he's calling for lower taxes."
Leadership. That was really the only campaign issue Schwarzenegger ran on, despite his claims to be able to repeal the "car tax," tax Indian gaming, and "bring California back." Of course, he would do these things through his Leadership, Führerschaft in the original German, that quality Hitler brought to European affairs in the not-so-long-ago, with the able assistance of his pals Mr. Mussolini in Italy, General Franco in Spain, General Tojo in Japan, and numerous petty imitators throughout the world then and now. Leadership is the quality they assert and asserted as they ran their cons on the populations they cow and cowed.
Surprisingly, nearly all of Schwarzenegger's campaign tactics were borrowed from the Howard Dean campaign, whether an apparent populist appeal, to the "rock star tour," to the whole notion of taking something "back." Right now, his starry-eyed consultants are working with the Bush people on a "Take California Back" campaign which will attempt to link Schwarzenegger's successful campaign to Bush's efforts to stay in the White House. Their ideals include putting California's electoral votes into the Bush coffers, and returning Republican dominance to the California Legislature and replacing Barbara Boxer in the Senate with a willing Republican.
Time and again, our Democrats have proven themselves incapable of withstanding an assault of Führerschaft and have caved in rather than put up a spirited and principled opposition. That half of the public that favors progressive governance opposed to the reactionary evil they see squatting in the White House and capturing more and more governing power elsewhere in the country looks on with a bewildered despair. How can this be happening, they wonder.
In California, the attacks on Gray Davis were almost as frequent from Democrats and progressives of all kinds as they were from the recall advocates and their 24 hour Hate Radio propaganda ministries. Gray did not make friends, and he did not make political allies. He was not well-liked as a person, and not highly regarded as an administrator. Consequently, when a handful of Republican activists and gadflies decided to launch a recall effort, many, many Dems and progressives used the opportunity presented to launch their own furies at the hapless governor. It was essentially a signal of his assured doom, provided the Rs put up a viable candidate.
That Schwarzenegger would be the one is still astonishing. But so it would be, and the devolution commenced in earnest. Gray was ordered and advised not to run the kind of campaign he was known for, and he didn't and he lost. Yet, even though he campaigned against the recall on principle and based on his substantial accomplishments in office, he was even blamed for the LA Times series on Schwarzenegger's female troubles.
But his primary fault was his wonkishness and lack of leadership. He prevaricated, procrastinated, he waffled, and he caved. He had no vision, no ideas, no sense of mission. He was bought by the "interests" and he did their bidding, forgetting the people.
He was an administrator, not a Leader.
And that made him vulnerable in an age of anxiety. Oddly enough, it was his administrative background as chief of staff and agency head that got him elected in the first place, and got him re-elected, too. He was good enough for the job at hand, and he was fighting the good fight in the face of terrible odds. Remember his efforts to force the Federal officials to acknowledge the plunder of the electricity privateers? And remember his success?
No Republican in office would have done that. The Republicans still blame the victims and claim "California deserved it," because of the flawed deregulation plan (created by the very companies that had a hand in the plunder.)
But his leadership was portrayed as weak, and when he led the charge against Bush and his band of thieves, showing all the world what a con they were permitting -- when they were not running cons themselves -- Gray had to go. One way or another, he had to go.
And now, with a Führer seizing the office, it is growing ever less likely that our own Legislative Democrats will put up a spirited and principled opposition, any more than our Congressional Dems have done. And why not?
Is it because they are unprincipled? Or is it because they lack the quality of leadership so necessary in our age of anxiety?