OAKLAND, Calif. – Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was a “no show” Sept. 3 when California Gov. Gray Davis and five candidates for governor explained their positions on a wide range of issues in the first debate of the Oct. 7 recall election.

Schwarzenegger’s Hoover Institution handlers are exploiting the Hollywood actor’s “star power” while keeping his positions on issues under tight wraps.

Schwarzenegger paid a price for his absence. “Arnold’s decision to avoid debating and answering questions insults all Californians,” said Phillip Muller of the non-partisan California Voter Project. “Is it because he has something to hide or simply because he doesn’t have any answers for the problems facing California?”

While Arnold continues to draw crowds, the truth is beginning to slip out. Women picketed his campaign headquarters in posh Santa Monica last week holding banners that proclaimed, “Terminate the Barbarian” and “Governor Gang Bang.” They were protesting Schwarzenegger’s 1977 interview in Oui magazine. He boasted of engaging in group sex with a woman at a Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach. As recently as July, he told an Esquire interviewer that a blond woman can be “as smart as her breasts look, great as her face looks, beautiful as her whole body.” Code Pink spokesperson Karen Pomer told reporters that Schwarzenegger “owes an apology to women he has abused.”

African American body-builder Robby Robinson, a former Mr. Universe, has charged that during a banquet in San Jose following the Russ Warner Classic body building contest, Schwarzenegger came in late and began shouting racist epithets, including the “n-word” at him. Another Black body-builder, Rick Wayne, confirms that Schwarzenegger hurled the “n-word” at him as well.

Then there is Wendy Leigh’s book, Arnold: An Unauthorized Biography. She reports that Schwarzenegger’s father, Gustav, was a Nazi Brown Shirt, a police chief, and an admirer of fellow Austrian, Adolph Hitler. The sins of the father should not be visited on the son. But why have Hollywood agents insisted that journalists seeking interviews sign an agreement not to ask Schwarzenegger about Leigh’s book?

And why did Schwarzenegger invite former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim who was implicated in Nazi war crimes to his wedding? The actor was so moved by a gift that Waldheim sent that he offered a toast: “My friends don’t want me to mention Kurt’s name because of all the recent Nazi stuff,” Schwarzenegger said. “But I love him. … So thank you, Kurt.”

Schwarzenegger made his millions in a string of films in which he “terminated” a sum total of 300 people, according to critics of Hollywood’s gratuitous violence and sex. “Hasta la vista, Baby,” he snarls as he blows people away. Now Schwarzenegger T-shirts are for sale sporting Schwarzenegger in dark glasses and the message, “Hasta la vista, Davis.”

Leigh quotes the body-builder: “I wanted to be part of the small percentage of people who were leaders, not the large mass of followers. … I was always fascinated by people in control of other people.”

Schwarzenegger repeated a similar line when asked about his acceptance of contributions from wealthy corporate executives even as he denounced contributions to his Democratic rivals. “I will never take money from the special interests, from Indian gaming, from unions,” he told reporters on Labor Day. Later he added, “I get donations from business and individuals, absolutely, because they’re powerful interests who control things.” So far, Schwarzenegger reports $6.3 million in contributions from wealthy agribusiness, real estate developers, and Hollywood circles.

Schwarzenegger is an immigrant yet he voted for the racist Proposition 187 that would have denied undocumented immigrant children the right to attend public schools or receive public assistance benefits. Gov. Davis and the courts blocked its enforcement. Schwarzenegger came out against a bill just signed by Davis granting undocumented workers the right to obtain driver’s licenses.

For 15 years Schwarzenegger has served on the advisory board of U.S. English, a group that campaigns against bilingual programs. The Southern Poverty Law Center has revealed that U.S. English co-founder John Tanton funded 13 “hate groups” and is tied to the Council of Conservative Citizens once known as the White Citizens Council. Tanton delivered a speech a few years back in which he said, “As whites see their power and control … declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”

The Republicans have been grooming Schwarzenegger for the California governorship for years. He served as chairman of the President’s Council on Fitness in the first Bush administration. He is a close friend of the Bush family.

The Republicans have toiled to airbrush his violent on-screen image. He was cast as a kind-hearted L.A. detective in “Kindergarten Cop” and as Danny DeVito’s brother in the comedy, “Twins.” He put his name on Prop. 49 the “After School Education and Safety Act.”

Like Bush’s “No Child Left Behind,” this proposition was opposed by the League of Women Voters and California teachers’ unions on grounds that it would “rob Peter to pay Paul,” slashing funding for existing programs that benefit children.

Schwarzenegger flew to Washington and visited the White House last April 10. He met with Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s chief political strategist. A White House spokesman said that Schwarzenegger “dropped by to talk about an after-school program … and to see what he could do to support U.S. troops overseas.” When reporters asked about the meeting, Rove said with a straight face, “politics were not discussed.”

Rove flew to California just before the recall was certified for the ballot. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Rove met at the Bohemian Grove with “the Republican hierarchy, especially those close to former Gov. Pete Wilson” and signaled that the White House “would favor Schwarzenegger.” Within hours, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) who had poured nearly $3 million of his own car alarm fortune into the recall, tearfully announced he would not seek the governorship.

Ever since, Rove and other GOP power brokers have been pressuring the other Republican candidates to remove themselves from the recall race. Bill Simon soon withdrew, as did Peter Ueberroth. The heat is now on Sen. Tom McClintock to step aside to avoid splitting the GOP vote.

In announcing his candidacy on the Jay Leno show, Schwarzenegger loudly proclaimed himself an outsider free from the “political class.” If you can’t get things done, he exclaimed, “Hasta la vista, Baby.” Yet he quickly named billionaire Warren Buffett and former Secretary of State George Shultz of the Bechtel Corp. (one of the no-bid Iraq contractors) to head his Economic Recovery Council.

Then he named the despised former Gov. Pete Wilson to direct his campaign. The California AFL-CIO responded by releasing a leaflet with a graphic of Wilson’s head grafted on Schwarzenegger in his “Terminator” role.

“I’m back,” the leaflet reads. “My old staff and I are running the Schwarzenegger campaign. When I was governor, I almost terminated prevailing wages. … I did terminate daily overtime pay. … This time, I’ll finish the job. Hasta la vista, unions!”

Wilson is loathed for ramming through Prop. 187, stripping hardworking, taxpaying, immigrants of public assistance. Wilson rammed through and signed the law deregulating the state’s energy market. It opened the door for Enron, Reliant, and Houston-based El Paso Natural Gas to create a phony “energy shortage” in 2001 with rolling brownouts across the state. Even the Bush-dominated Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) admitted that these energy traders “gamed” the California energy market, forcing ruinous contracts on beleaguered ratepayers. Yet FERC refused to nullify those contracts and now the Bush-Cheney gang is blaming Davis for the crisis they created.

While the lights were dimming, Enron CEO Ken Lay, summoned top Republicans to a secret meeting at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, May 11, 2001. Among them was Arnold Schwarzenegger, convicted junk-bond dealer Michael Milken, and L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan. Reporter Jason Leopold who covered the California energy crisis for Dow Jones News Wire writes that Lay “handed out a four-page document to Schwarzenegger, Riordan and Milken titled ‘Comprehensive Solution for California’ which called for an end to federal and state investigations into Enron’s role in the California energy crisis and said consumers should pay for the state’s disastrous experiment with deregulation through multi-billion rate increases.”

On his official website, Schwarzenegger vows, “I will address high energy costs. California has the highest commercial and industrial electricity rates in the nation. Therefore I will renegotiate the energy contracts ….”

But why only “commercial and industrial” rates? Will Schwarzenegger deliver on promises he made to Lay and shift ruinous electricity rates even more to hard pressed working families?

Schwarzenegger convened a news conference Sept. 7 to announce that the California Chamber of Commerce has endorsed him. The agribusiness Western Growers Association has also endorsed him. He promised to fix California’s Worker’s Compensation system and limit the number of times people can visit doctors. “We have medical bills that are just gigantic,” he said. “People go twice as many times to doctors. … There’s a lot of fraud there.”

For a time it seemed the recall would pass easily and Schwarzenegger would waltz into the governor’s mansion with a plurality as low as 15 percent of the vote cast for the 135 candidates.

Now that is looking more doubtful. A front page headline in the Sept. 7 Oakland Tribune reads, “Davis’ ouster may not be a sure thing.” The subhead reads, “Governor’s future looking brighter as opposition stumbles.” The article cites widespread disgust at the “circus” atmosphere and the deepening splits among recall candidates, notably the hostility between the rabid GOP Sen. McClintock and the Schwarzenegger camp. A Field poll released Sept. 9 reports that support for recall has dropped from 58 percent to 55 percent and opposition to recall has risen from 37 percent to 40 percent.

Central to the shift is the labor-led alliance that is campaigning tirelessly against the recall and against the racist Prop. 54 “Racial Privacy Act.” Davis hammers out a warning: “This recall is bigger than California. It started with the impeachment of President Clinton. … It continued in Florida where they stopped the vote count. … This year they’re trying to steal additional Congressional seats in Colorado and Texas. … Now they’re trying to use this recall to seize control of California just before the next presidential election.”

This reporter spoke with Eliseo Medina, international vice president of the Service Employees International Union, moments after 600 leaders of the AFL-CIO voted unanimously to fight the recall and oppose Prop. 54 at a special convention in Los Angeles, Aug. 26. They also voted to call for a “yes” vote for Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante on the second part of the ballot.

“It is important that we are all together,” Medina said, “whether we are public employee unions, service unions, industrial unions, or the building trades. This recall fight is not just about one election. It’s a question of the direction of the state and the nation. We’ve come too far to go back now. Look at who is behind Schwarzenegger: Pete Wilson and his gang! They are anti-worker, anti-immigrant. They are trying to take a free shot at the biggest state in the union. I absolutely believe that the White House is behind this. It is up to us to mobilize to stop it.”

The author can be reached at greenerpastures21212@yahoo.com