Every election I get some favorite piece of campaign memorabilia, and this year's top honors go to Governor Schwarzenegger's Ballot Proposition Voter Guide, a garish and fun journey through the initiatives with the state of California's chief executive. Giant-type pull quotes and multicolored banner headlines abound, and each page features a margin tab giving direct voting advice from the governator himself:
The familiar use of "Arnold" throughout demonstrates one of the great strengths of the guv: His pitch-perfect awareness and tonal control of all the absurdities in his public persona. Since the process of bogus self-revelation is even more intense for a politician than for a movie star, Arnold's political career has shown what an exact understanding he has of how the public sees him—even when the public is making fun of him. He gives the lie to the Rainer Wolfkastle model of an un-self-aware celebrity. Note that Governor Arnold's two most famous political invocations of his movie image—telling American troops he was there to "pump you up" and calling state Democrats "girlymen"—are not actually references to his own image, but to "Hans and Franz," the parody of his image done by Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon. No doubt, we all have our favorite postmodern figure, and these days mine is Governor Schwarzenegger, even (or especially) when he's unironically urging me to vote no on some ballot initiative:
But this campaign packet has one more treat in store, a special page devoted to defeating two Indian gaming initiatives:
At first glance, this pic of a pair of brownish hands scooping money off a blackjack table is a straightforward negative image of Indian gaming. But look closer and you'll see that the guy is actually scooping up a true Michigan Roll: A pile of one-dollar bills with a tenner on the outside to make it look more impressive (which, given the low antes many Indian casinos allow, may not be wholly inaccurate). Not only has the governor given me free voting advice, he's doing it on the cheap like a true fiscal conservative. Go Arnold!