Life imitates art:
In the 1993 campy sci-fi flick “Demolition Man,” Sylvester Stallone’s character is brought back from the past and has this conversation with Sandra Bullock’s character:
Sandra Bullock: I have, in fact, perused some newsreels in the Schwarzenegger Library.
Stallone: Hold it. The Schwarzenegger Library?
Bullock: Yes. The Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. Wasn’t he an actor when you...
Stallone: But how? He was President?
Bullock: Yes! Even though he wasn’t born in this country, his popularity at the time caused the 61st Amendment which states...
Stallone: I don’t wanna know. . .President.
Arnold Schwarzenegger made his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech the other night.
He played the immigrant card for a nation of immigrants and brought the convention and anybody within the vicinity of a radio or TV to their feet with almost embarrassing enthusiasm.
I'm sure there were people who leapt up shouting and then looked around to see if they were the only ones.
He has an accent as thick and gooey as hot tar on pavement, but I didn't miss a syllable. In fact, I found myself enjoying the rhythm and cadence of his Austrian-tinged words, which he delivered with confident authority.
I was also relieved in a Remember the Third Reich kind of way that having an accent, in particular that one, pretty much precludes a run for president. He was that good.
We roared with laughter at his jokes. We wholeheartedly empathized with his childhood fear of communism. And, as the speech went on, we happily endorsed everything he said. Again and again.
That really wasn't too hard to do. There wasn't anything in his speech that anybody, Republican or Democrat, couldn't agree with. Embracing his stirring oratory was a little like clapping during the National Anthem.
Here was the quintessential action figure come to life. Mr. Olympia speaking from the top of the mountain. And, most impressive, he was reading lines he might have actually helped to write.
One of our movie icons was surprising us in a way we hadn't expected, proving he wasn't just a Hollywood hunk. Or a California fluke. By the end of his carefully crafted, well-practiced fifteen minutes, a legitimate political rock star had emerged full bloom before our very eyes.
Central Casting couldn't have found anyone better for the moment.
He even managed to neutralize Barack Obama's emotional "Who would've thought that a skinny kid. . .could get this far" with his own version, "Who would have thought a scrawny kid from Austria. . ."
And nobody else could have delivered his shout out to those weak sisters who had lost their fiduciary faith -- the "Economic Girly Men."
He was the best speaker at either convention. Period.
And I loved Barack Obama.
Here's one paragraph from Arnold's well-crafted words with one teensy change I made, because, well, I can.
If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government...then you are AN AMERICAN!
If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group... then you are AN AMERICAN!
If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does... then you are AN AMERICAN!
If you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children ... then you are AN AMERICAN!
If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope of democracy in the world ... then you are AN AMERICAN!
And, ladies and gentlemen ...if you believe we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism ... then you are AN AMERICAN!
I think it's worth noting that when Arnold went to visit a school in Harlem the day after his speech, the only politician he quoted was President Kennedy from his inaugural address, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."
Since I mentioned it at the outset, here is some of Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech he made in August, 1963 at the Berlin wall.
. . .Two thousand years ago, two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was "civis Romanus sum." Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is "Ich bin ein Berliner."
(I appreciate my interpreter translating my German.)
There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world.
Let them come to Berlin.
There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future.
Let them come to Berlin.
And there are some who say, in Europe and elsewhere, we can work with the Communists.
Let them come to Berlin.
And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system,but it permits us to make economic progress.
Lass' sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come toBerlin.
. . .Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect. But we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in -- to prevent them from leaving us. I want to say on behalf of my countrymen who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride, that they have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of the last 18 years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for 18 years that still lives with the vitality and the force, and the hope, and the determination of the city of West Berlin. . .
. . .You live in a defended island of freedom, but your life is part of the main. So let me ask you, as I close, to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today, to the hopes of tomorrow, beyond the freedom merely of this city of Berlin, or your country of Germany, to the advance of freedom everywhere, beyond the wall to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind. . .
. . .All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin.
And, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner."