Man Without Qualities

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Davis Descending LVII: The Real Smears Begin At Last!

The California recall campaign is finally really hotting up in the Schwarzenegger smear department! This was always expected, but it's still interesting to see the techniques and professionals in fast action.

ABC News - and now others - are carrying reports based on an old 1975 interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger in which he is reported to have said

"I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it."

Mr. Schwarzenegger is also quoted as saying he wished he could have an experience, "like Hitler in the Nuremberg stadium. And have all those people scream at you and just being total agreement whatever you say."

We are told that the author of the book proposal in which the quotes appear says that the quotes needed to be seen in context, and that Mr. Schwarzenegger never said anything anti-Semitic. But, of course, ABC News provides no such necessary "context" in its article. A suggestion that Mr. Schwarzenegger is running from his past is included instead.

Indeed, ABC News spends not even a word to explain why one should believe anything in this book proposal or transcipt - or from this author (Pumping Iron's director, George Butler). None of that seems to matter to these media professionals. The slur's the thing!

Unlike the recent Los Angeles Times article, this ABC News item is really a disgraceful and completely predictable example of the copyrighted last-minute campaign smear of the California Democratic Party and their willing executioners in the ordinary liberal media. The story has been around for over twenty-five years - and its release this time has clearly been delayed to maximize the damage to Mr. Schwarzenegger. The allegations are misleading in the classical smear fashion. In this case, anti-Semitic vibes are coupled with the "disclaimer" that Mr. Schwarzenegger never said anything anti-Semitic - but no context for the comments is provided, although such context is admitted to be necessary to understand the quotes - a clear indication that ABC News intends the quotes to have exactly the effect disclaimed.

What could that "context" be? I, for one, don't know. But admiration for Hitler's theatrical and cinemagraphic effects (as opposed to his beliefs and practices) is obviously common in Hollywood. For example, ABC's smearquote mentions the Nuremberg rally, which was famously propagandized in the movie Triumph of the Will, a terrifyingly brilliant piece of cinema which has been widely admired and copied - even as its objectives are reviled:

The techniques and imagery used in Triumph Of The Will would serve as example to many filmmakers, and its influence can be found in many modern productions, from political campaign ads to the closing ceremonial scenes in Star Wars.

Political campaign ads modeled on Triumph of the Will and its Nazi propaganda effects are said, for example, to include one of Hubert H. Humphrey's main campaign movies. That movie was created for and at the behest of Mr. Humphrey for his presidential run and is said to hnclude extensive sequences derived from Triumph of the Will. Is it too much to suggest that Mr. Humphrey (and other politicians who use devices copied from Triumph of the Will) probably admired Hitler in that movie for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it? - at least as much of what he did with it as Mr. Humphrey and others have sought to obtain by having it copied for their own use? And wouldn't that also likely include admiring that Hitler came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power - but not the use to which he put that power or his methods of obtaining and keeping power other than some of theatrical techniques? Again, it's pretty obvious context is all in this story - and ABC News' failure to include that context is grossly partisan and unprofessional. So what else is new? Dear me, what will the Note say?

Will it work? Well, it's certainly not much news. The Arnold-as-Nazi theme has been out there for a long time, without much effect or support - and nothing substantive is added by ABC News here. The ABC News story is also transparently intended to manipulate voters - especially, but not exclusively, Jewish voters - with images pulled out of context. (The creator of Triumph of the Will, Leni Reifenstahl, also knew how to achieve her desired effects by omitting context - although ABC News surely didn't have to raid her library to obtain that technique.) But, unlike Germany in 1934, modern voters may react against such transparent manipulation.

In sum, it seems most likely that the great majority of voters will conclude that the article doesn't advance the Schwarzenegger character story one iota.

But there's probably more and nastier material to come! Mr. Mulhulland hasn't shot his wad yet, for example.

MORE: DRUDGE reports: The book proposal contains other stunning passages, which ABCNEWS is preparing to reveal.

Well, of course!

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