Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered the best speech so far in either of the conventions, and maybe we can think of it as the Kennedy family’s unintentional apology for Uncle-in-Law Teddy Kennedy’s bathetic speech at the Democratic convention, where the lion in winter referred to “the shirt heard round the world.” He meant shot, of course, but it took the Republican member of the family to fire a shot heard round the world.
Here’s Tom Shales on Arnold:
“Massive mangler of the English language though he be, Schwarzenegger is a star, and proved it with a rousingly partisan, old-timey political speech that was refreshingly combative and filled with bravado. It made the Democrats look like Clark Kent, ‘mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper,’ while Arnold came bursting through as Superman, the guy who gets the job done and punches do-badders in the snoot.
“His performance could be dismissed as absurdly retro and old-hat by intellectuals and the politically correct but in a time ruled largely by fear, it came off as brave, rough and tough, as if John Wayne had come back to life to take one more whack at ‘bad guys’ in an outdated western. Arnold even obliged the crowd by using the term ‘girlie man’ when referring to anyone who is an economic pessimist, sending the audience into bombastic cathartic cheers.’
You can tell that Arnold was upsetting to the girlie men and not-so-girlie women of the left because William Saletan has a wimpy piece on Slate explaining why he likes Arnold and not Bush and also, incongruously, why Arnold got it all wrong last night.
I thought it was an incredible moment (though it came close to dragging on for just a smidgen too long), and I felt my eyes burning when the crowd started chanting, “USA, USA.” Arnold, like Teresa Heinz Kerry, is an immigrant who did find the streets paved with gold, but oh how different they are!