This month’s Esquire features a shot of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger chomping on a stogie. The article calls the governor the president of 12 percent of the U.S. Never mind California’s $14.5 billion budget deficit. Judging from the, Arnold is a “What, me worry?” kind of guy. “It’s not that he doesn’t feel your pain; it’s that he, like Reagan, doesn’t feel his own,” Esquire said. “He’s either the happiest man in American politics or the happiest man in America, period.”
And his man, John McCain, is a cinch for the GOP nomination now that Mitt Romney has dropped out. (But Arnold’s wife, Maria Shriver of the Kennedy clan, is backing Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. Wonder what kind of pillow talk that leads to?)
Regrets: While slogging through the journals of the late historian and political insider Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. I came across a passage Schlesinger quoted from a conversation with Henry Kissinger, former confidant of President Richard Nixon. “You know,” Kissinger told him, “I have much less sympathy for Nixon now than I had in 1974-75. I think what really finished it for me was the  trip to [Anwar] Sadat’s funeral – when I went along with Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. As soon as we got into the plane, Nixon was his old self again, trying to manipulate everybody and everything, dropping poisonous remarks, doing his best to set people against each other. Later, when we were in a car by ourselves, Ford said to me, ‘Sometimes I wish I had never pardoned that son of a bitch.’ “
Political Potholders: “I was just thinking in these days of polls and elections of one political attribute that has never been mentioned as significant in predicting political success: potholders,” muses Frank Frost, retired UCSB prof and former 1st District supervisor. “Potholders are passe now, but I remember in the 70s and 80s that political potholders were popular, maybe campaigners reasoning that the little lady in the kitchen might actually vote if inspired by a good, inscribed potholder: I thought of this today, looking at two ratty, stained, nondescript but still effective potholders in the basket by the stove. One was sent by the Jack O’Connell campaign back in the early 80s. (He was first elected in 1982, you will remember.) The whole batch was sewed by his grandmother. The other potholder was from the successful Gloria Ochoa supervisor campaign in 1988. I always reach for one or the other because their ‘feel’ on a hot pot handle is just right. How can we rate their political owners? Gloria’s potholder is now about 16 years older than her political career, which tanked in ’92. While Jack’s grandmother’s potholder is showing its age, Jack is doing better than ever and may be our next governor. So mark potholder predictions at .500. Better than most pollsters.”
Running Woman: My friend Elaine Lopez plans to run the L.A. Marathon (26.2 miles, groan) on March 1 to raise money for the Santa Barbara High marching band, color guard, jazz band, symphonic band, string orchestra and pep band. All we have to do is sponsor her with tax-deductible donations. (Tax ID No. 77-002-3985.) Checks should go to the Santa Barbara High School Band Boosters, 315 W. Los Olivos St ., No. 4, 94105.
Donor categories are Big Spender ($4 per mile for a total of $104), down to Teacher (50 cents a mile for a mere $13). “Funds are desperately needed to help pay for uniforms, transportation to competitions, instrument purchase and repair and assistant teacher salaries,” Elaine told me. She is paying her own fees and expenses. Her son, Aaron, is in both the band and the jazz band, the latter of which is playing at SOhO on February 18.
Murder, Most Foul: Therese Raquin, now on the boards at Ensemble Theatre, is a gripping story of lust and passion turned into the torments of guilt. French playwright Emile Zola, never one to back away from harsh reality, used true events to frame his 19th-century play centering on two lovers and an inconvenient husband. Leaving the theater you may ponder, as I did, what drives “normal” everyday people to kill. Jonathan Fox, Ensemble artistic director, who directed the play, cites the Laci and Scott Peterson case.
Story of the Streets: Social worker Ken Williams, who has a heart as big as the outdoors that the homeless use as a bedroom, will be signing his new book, Shattered Dreams: A Story of the Streets, on Thursday. He’ll be signing the book and discussing it when the Santa Barbara Screenwriters Association meets at downtown Borders at 7:30 p.m.
Tempest at Campbell: William Shakespeare wrote his final play, the great The Tempest, then shuffled off to retirement knowing he’d done his best. It has love, tragedy and comedy, and The Acting Company will perform it Thursday at 8 p.m. at Campbell Hall. The Acting Company is an American touring repertory theater group, winner of the Tony Award for Excellence in Theater.