SEAMS IN THE ASTROTURF...
In the world of politics, "Astroturf" is the word used to describe efforts that appear to show grassroots support but are actually synthetic. When done right, it can be quite effective. When a mistake is made, however, the result can be embarrassingly phony. At least some residents in Thousand Oaks recently got a homespun letter from "Audra's local team; Friends - Neighbors - Republicans," urging them to support Audra Strickland in the 37th Assembly District GOP primary. Unfortunately for the local team, the seams in the Astroturf were showing.
The letter talks about how "Thousand Oaks is a very special place" and says that "Thousand Oaks Boulevard isn't just any street in California. It's Main Street." Homespun, right? Well, it seems that way until two paragraphs later when, instead of whatever paragraphs were supposed to be included in the form letter, the letter continues: "Section D Issue swap," followed by "Section E Issue swap."
In other words, this was a boilerplate letter written not by "neighbors and friends" but by a sophisticated political consultant, intended to have precisely tailored messages to specific voters depending on such issues as their ZIP code and gender. Maybe someone should ask Audra where she really stands on Section D and Section E issues...
... AND AN UNSEEMLY SIGN
Those who walked in the State Capitol this week were taken aback by the sign above the governor's office. Until last weekend, it had always read simply "GOVERNOR" above the door, in letters engraved into the marble wall. It had an elegant dignity about it that suggested the permanency of institution mattered more than the transience of the office-holders who came and went. But the new occupants of the office apparently believe the individual inside merits top billing. In gold letters that match those engraved below, the name "ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER" has been mounted above "GOVERNOR."
Before, it was only in Hollywood that top-drawer actors got their names listed above movie titles.
On Thursday, in a speech to high school students attending the YMCA Model Legislature, Schwarzenegger gave remarks that might help explain the new sign above the governor's office:
"I was always thinking about how I could be the most muscular man? How can I be the richest guy? How can I get into the movies? How can I become a star? It was all I, I, I."
It was a change in that attitude, he said, that compelled him to run for governor. The evidence posted on the wall above his office suggests that the transformation is not quite complete.