WashPost Editor Singles Out Schwarzenegger As Moderate Model for GOP That's 'Veered Hard Right'

In Monday’s Washington Post, local editor Vernon Loeb reviewed Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new memoir Total Recall, and retells the amusing tale of Karl Rove telling Arnold he didn’t have a chance of being governor, and then suggested Condoleezza Rice would run in 2006. That didn’t turn out.

But Loeb also predictably pushed the usual button that the GOP is too conservative and needs to be more like Arnold: “His willingness to go his own way as a left-leaning Republican also stands out in this election year, when the GOP has veered hard right.”

Schwarzenegger achieved passage of a cap on greenhouse gases, appropriated $3 billion for stem cell research, took on a health-care overhaul in California and, at a Republican Party conference in 2007, warned: “We are dying at the box office. We are not filling the seats. Our party has lost the middle, and we will not regain true political power in California until we get it back.” He remembers getting little more than “polite applause,” while the next speaker, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who “pooh-poohed climate change,” was cheered on wildly.

Loeb also brings on the groans when he retells Schwarzenegger's claim that wife Maria Shriver had a hard life inside the Kennedy clan and called her career in journalism “a real declaration of independence.” That's not quite right. It's more like an earlier version of "special correspondent Chelsea Clinton," with a liberal media elite kissing up to power by hiring the kids of powerful pols.

Another example is HBO filmmaker Rory Kennedy. HBO is so in love with the Kennedys that they allowed Rory to make a documentary about her own mother. It's simply called "Ethel." Then media outlets like the WashPost find it cute that Mommy likes Rory's little home movie. They puffed the movie in their gossip column Monday:

“Ethel” looks at a very public life through a very private lens — candid interviews with her brothers and sisters, family and historical photos, home movies and a one-on-one interview with her mother, who has always pulled a curtain around her family life.

“I anticipated that my mother would not want to do it, because she’s never really told her life story,” Rory told us at a screening Thursday at the Motion Picture Association of America. “The truth is, I called and asked her, and she said yes immediately.”

“It’s very hard to say no to Rory,” her mother said.

The Post gossips (Amy Argetsinger and/or Roxanne Roberts) are enthralled and spin this movie as "surprisingly compelling," report it was hatched in Castro's Cuba, and is somehow already a hit because the cineastes thronged to see it...at ultraliberal Robert Redford's film festival. Read before eating:

What emerges is a surprisingly compelling portrait of a lively, spirited woman with a fierce sense of loyalty, deep religious beliefs, a boundless sense of fun and little fear of authority. (Ethel was arrested for stealing a neighbor’s mistreated horses; she won the case.) The family tragedies are there but — following Ethel’s example — not lingered on.

That’s the woman HBO executive Sheila Nevins met 12 years ago in Cuba [??], when she came up with the idea for the documentary, which debuts on the cable channel later this month. Nevins thought it would be a mother/daughter story; instead, it has touched a political nerve. At the Sundance movie festival, there were lines around the block.

Part of it is the Kennedy magic, but part is nostalgia for a time when people weren’t cynical about politics and politicians. “I thought it was past history; it turned out to be present history,” Nevins said. “I thought it was a small film with a big heart about a time that was. I didn’t know it was a bigger film about a time that isn’t and that it would attract young people.”

Ethel’s take? “I think it’s a tribute to Rory’s talent. She’s amazing. She can make a lot of very little, and she did.”

Spoken like a proud mom. “It’s true, I am,” she said with a broad smile.

Oh yeah, there's no privilege to being a Kennedy at all.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis