I was delighted to hear that Arianna's running for governor of California. Although many dismiss her as a shallow self-promoter driving around in a silly car, I love those big Hollywood billboards of her with that fabulous cleavage you just want to dive into . . .
Oh, wait. That's not Arianna, that's Angelyne, the other shallow self-promoting elderly sexpot who's running for governor. Angelyne drives around in a pink Cadillac, Arianna drives around in a hybrid. Hybrid car, hybrid politics, ex-hubbie with hybrid sexuality: Everything about Arianna Huffington defies what she would call the old "paradigm." She wants to "take us beyond the standard left-right paradigm and provide new solutions." If I had a pair o' dime for every time she's disdained the old paradigm, I'd be rich enough to run for governor, too.
Instead it's Arianna who's standing up and fighting for the little man. He lives at Apartment D, 47 Elm Street. But other little men are bound to be joining the campaign any day now, just you wait, and, even if they don't, there's always Warren Beatty. Arianna is taking us beyond the old left/right, rich/poor, hugely popular/massively obscure paradigms to forge a top-down grassroots movement tapping into a vast dried-up reservoir of inactive activists giving voice to millions who feel disenfranchised -- so totally disenfranchised they don't even show up in polling surveys, which is why her numbers are down around 4% with Larry Flynt. Following the success of her hybrid car, she's now experimenting with a bandwagon that runs on nothing.
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Which brings us back to Angelyne. For two decades, aside from pouting at L.A. commuter traffic, Angelyne has done nothing. She doesn't act (not since a cameo in "Earth Girls Are Easy"), she doesn't sing, she doesn't dance, she doesn't even take her kit off. All she does is have new billboard posters done every half-decade or so. Her celebrity rests on the mere declaration of it: The announcement is the event.
Ring a bell? Like Angelyne, Arianna doesn't act, doesn't sing, doesn't dance, doesn't take her clothes off. She simply declared herself a political force: The announcement is the movement. Yet, unlike Angelyne, there she was all over the Sunday talk shows, sharing split-screens with Cruz Bustamante as if she too were a credible politician. Even more bizarre were those usually savvy observers who pondered whether the race would come down to Arnold vs. Arianna, as if the latter were a credible celebrity.
To be fair, unlike Angelyne, whose two most notable features are remarkably unchanged since their first appearance in 1982, Arianna does show a Madonnaesque shrewdness for reinvention. In Hollywood in 2000, she backed Warren Beatty for president, but he wimped out. In Washington in the '90s, she adored Newt Gingrich, until she figured he was a busted flush. In New York in the '80s, she hooked up with wealthy Republican Michael Huffington, but he didn't have the fire in his belly. In London in the '70s, she was the young paramour of Fleet Street heavyweight Bernard Levin, but he was too old and content. In Hooterville in the '60s, she had a recurring role on "Green Acres" as Eva Gabor's ambitious younger sister, forever trying to talk Eddie Albert into running for the Hooterville School Board. "But, dahlink, yoo vood moov Hooterville politics beyond the tired left/right dichotomy." Alas, her men, like her enviro-friendly cars, never quite go the distance. Even in their allegedly sinister heyday, Michael and Arianna Huffington seemed less suited to play Macbeth and Lady M than My Big Fat Greek Wedding in dinner theatre at Coconut Grove. So Arianna Gabor Stassinopoulos Huffington has finally quit trying to jump-start defective vehicles for her political drive, and do it herself.
I can't help feeling this is an ill-advised move. She describes herself as a "recovering Republican" who was a "compassionate conservative" before George W. Bush was, but has now "evolved" into a "compassionate progressive." Label-wise, she's more of a trickle-down populist, who figures if you network at enough A-list parties word will eventually leak out to the 29 million Californians who weren't invited.
As for her policies, she says: "I don't think about gays in the military. I don't think about gays at all except when they're doing my hair or makeup. Seriously, they're very artistic."
Whoops, that's Angelyne again. Arianna, if I understand correctly, believes Mr. Bush is really to blame for California's problems, Gray Davis is "too conservative," the people need more government programs and fewer SUVs, and the war in Iraq has meant cuts in education spending. Does that sound "new" to you? America spends more per schoolkid than any other developed nation and has less to show for it. And, whatever the degree of voter anger in the Golden State, it's not a demand for higher taxation for more government programs while you drive around in a second-hand Honda Civic.
If there's one thing more tired than the old left/right dichotomy, it's someone who bores on about how tired the left/right dichotomy is. In 2000, in a preview of an Arianna administration, she organized the "Shadow Conventions," which, unlike the tired stage-managed left/right conventions, were an opportunity for real people to voice real concerns. An adoring media throng turned up to dote on John McCain, and a somewhat more laid-back crowd was there for the debate on drugs, but other than that the joint was pretty much empty. Arianna's marketing honchos had printed up mock stanchions for the "delegates" to stand behind on the convention "floor." They indicated not one's state but one's state of mind: "DISILLUSIONED," "DISRESPECTED," "DISENFRANCHIZED," "2POOR4ACCESS." But evidently the DISENFRANCHIZED were too DISILLUSIONED to show up. Maybe they were 2POOR4BUSFARE or 2APATHETICTO4GODAYTIMETV, but whatever the reason they illustrated the limitations of Arianna's designer populism.
Friday, August 15, 2003
Mark Steyn just rips Arianna to shreds. It couldn't happen to a nicer Greek social climber.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 12:53 PM