Schwarzenegger deems opponents 'girlie-men' -- twice
Governor's rhetoric incites mall crowd, infuriates others
Sunday, July 18, 2004
(07-18) 04:00 PDT Ontario, San Bernardino County -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger mocked his opponents in the California Legislature on Saturday as "girlie-men" and called upon voters to "terminate" them at the polls in November if they don't pass his $103 billion budget.
Using tough rhetoric that he borrowed from his days as a body-builder and movie actor, the governor said lawmakers are telling lies and are "back to their old habits" after a post-recall burst of bipartisan collaboration.
Legislators, he said at a rally in the food court of the Ontario Mills Mall, are "part of a bureaucracy that is out of shape, that is out of date, that is out of touch and that is definitely out of control in Sacramento."
He also said: "They cannot have the guts to come out there in front of you and say, 'I don't want to represent you. I want to represent those special interests: the unions, the trial lawyers.' ... I call them girlie-men. They should get back to the table and they should finish the budget."
Democratic lawmakers, gay and lesbian advocates, and feminist groups bristled over the governor's comments, which were greeted with sustained applause by hundreds of people who were invited to the rally through automated phone calls put out by Schwarzenegger's camp.
The governor used the "girlie-man" reference twice in the span of a 16- minute speech aimed at pressuring the Legislature to pass his budget, now 17 days late. The remark is an apparent reference to an old Saturday Night Live skit parodying Schwarzenegger. Comedians Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon played "pumped up" bodybuilders -- Hans and Franz -- with thick Austrian accents. Anyone without a muscled torso was dismissed as a "girlie-man."
Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, a San Francisco Democrat, said he was "nonplused" by Schwarzenegger's comment.
"I don't know what the definition of 'girlie-man' is. As opposed to his being a he-man?" Burton said. "I can't think of a way to have the he-man and the girlie-men join hands around the Capitol and sing 'Kumbaya'."
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, said: "Those are the kinds of statements that ought not to come out of the mouth" of the governor. "He says he's going to 'terminate' members in November? I really don't know what he means by that. That's not funny anymore."
Frustrated by the stalemate over his budget, Schwarzenegger is using a series of weekend public appearances to drum up calls to lawmakers demanding completion of the budget. He is scheduled to continue his campaign today at a shopping mall in Stockton.
Having used his charisma and celebrity to build relationships with lawmakers over the past eight months, the governor is adopting a combative new tone. He said he would strive to oust Democratic lawmakers who vote against his budget.
"I want each and every one of you to go the polls on Nov. 2nd," he said Saturday. "That will be judgment day. I want you to go to the polls. ... You are the terminators, yes!''
The governor's pugnacious turn raised objections Saturday, with the "girlie-man" reference becoming the focus.
"It's really painful to hear the governor resort to such blatant homophobia," said Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, who chairs the Senate's Natural Resources and Wildlife Committee. "It's an old-fashioned way of talking about gay men as to indicate they're not as strong. So that part is really painful. And I have to say it's really surprising. It's like he can't get his way so he resorts to some kind of name-calling."
Rob Stutzman, the governor's communications director, said: "We're not going to respond to anyone looking to get their name in the paper."
This article appeared on page A - 7 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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