When Arnie makes sense

The governor of California is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of California. California’s governor is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Any way you say it, it just doesn’t sound right.

But forget all that, because after one year in office, Schwarzenegger has done a decent job and his ability to appeal to the masses is nothing short of amazing, not to mention quite unheard of in American politics today.

According to a Field Poll released Tuesday, he has a 65 percent approval rating in a state that is mostly Democratic. His rating numbers are the highest for a California governor at this point in his term since Jerry Brown in 1975.

Known as a fiscal-Republican, Schwarzenegger has been reasonable and fair in a time when most politicians have been partisan and inequitable. For that, he is refreshing. He is an idol for America’s moderates and the villain of right and left wing nuts.

He is socially moderate in a political arena with almost no gray area. And despite stumping for President Bush during the presidential race, he has disagreed with him on many issues and remained firm despite the pressures that came with Bush’s reelection campaign.

For example, Schwarzenegger is pro-gun-control. While he supports the Second Amendment, he supported the assault weapons ban that the Bush Administration recently allowed to expire.

Schwarzenegger bases his stances on facts, not platforms or faith.

Recently, Schwarzenegger again went against the Bush Administration’s policy when he endorsed spending $3 billion to research human embryonic stem cells. Schwarzenegger said he is “very much interested in stem cell research and (supports) it 100 percent.”

Even more progressive is his stance on gay marriage. He says he believes “everyone has equal rights and the same rights as a married couple has. I believe in that very strongly.”

Wait a minute. Is this guy really Republican?

Not only does he support gay marriage, stem cell research and gun control, he’s also pro-choice.

Hold the phone. Pro-choice? Is he serious?

Yes, Schwarzenegger is serious. He supports a woman’s right to choose and in doing so has given little faith to the religious right of the nation’s cultural conservatives.

On a recent taping of Larry King Live, Schwarzenegger said, “I totally respect the religious it the way it is right now. And I don’t see a change there at all.”

Schwarzenegger’s idea of acceptance and understanding is almost unheard of in the Bush Administration. The notion of fact-based, not belief-based, ideology seems lost today and Schwarzenegger is one of the few out there who wants to find it again.

“I may be considered more in the center,” Schwarzenegger said. “This is what I am. I am socially — always said this — socially more moderate.”

No, Schwarzenegger has not declared war on Bush; nor has he said any damaging remarks about him. But here is the kicker: He has not done it to Democrats either.

“You know, everyone wants to make it a better place. It’s just we have different philosophies. So I think that’s why it’s important to work together,” Schwarzenegger said. “I think it’s a mistake to label people and to say this is what the Republicans stand for and this is what the Democrats stand for. I think it crosses over. And I think the action is in the center. No matter what anyone says, the action is in the center.”

With one year under his belt, Schwarzenegger has shown firmness and strength by standing up to a Bush administration that is so far right, it is just wrong.

And if Bush truly wants to unite the nation, he could learn from the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It just sounds right.

John Calkins is a junior majoring in mass communications. oraclecalkins@yahoo.com