On May 16, 2001 (I remember the exact date), I was fast asleep in my bed around two in the afternoon. My freshman year of college at Michigan State had ended the week before, and I was at home catching up on some much needed rest. My younger brother walked in to my room, dropped an envelope on my head and walked out. I grabbed it, blinked a few times to get my bearings and saw what it was: a letter from Georgetown’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions – a little envelope. As a potential transfer student, I knew that you don’t get accepted in little envelopes. Small meant bad.

Opening it, I remember bracing myself. I didn’t think I had gotten in and the size of the envelope only strengthened that presumption. Reading the first sentence (you know how it goes, “On behalf of the Committee on Admissions, I am pleased to offer you.”), it hit me: this is a strange way to begin a rejection.

Watching Arnold Schwarzenegger on Jay Leno a few weeks ago brought back that memory. “Heh, what an odd lead in for a man who is going to announce he isn’t going to run.” I thought to myself. He pulled a fast one in a time when fast ones are near impossible to pull in American politics. None of us saw it coming, but now that he’s a candidate, what to do? How about demanding substance over pretense?

There are many jobs where a neophyte can take over and do just as well as an experienced professional. Governor of California in 2003 isn’t one of `em.

Why then are so many willing to accept, even embrace, Schwarzenegger’s candidacy? Since when did my party raise political and policy naivete to an art form worthy of esteem and election?

Since they thought it could win.

The GOP has jumped on the Schwarzenegger bandwagon, for the sole reason that it thinks he stands the best chance of winning in the recall election. Not because he has a clue as to how one governs a state or cauterizes a hemorrhaging economy. Oh no – he won’t be the crowd favorite then. As a California native explained to me, California often acts on whims, and now, it’s bound and determined to clean political house. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Give me someone who knows how to negotiate, draft a budget, cut unemployment and get a state off life support. Not an actor who keeps reminding us that he will “terminate” Gray Davis and can’t even enunciate a clear tax policy. But then again, I’m from Michigan – what do I know?

I’ll admit, you can’t help but be impressed by Schwarzenegger’s life story and career history, but has anything prepared him for his next intended role? He has lived the American dream, was smart enough to marry a Kennedy (and Georgetown alum), and has shown an interest in matters political. But that is where the resume stops and the presumptions begin. Schwarzenegger’s physical stature belies his political gravitas, and experientially, he’s about the size of fellow recall candidate Gary Coleman. And that’s another wacky thing about this recall: it seems like a misnomer to label Schwarzenegger small, and many will look at his physical presence and conclude that muscle mass correlates with policy prowess. And they’ll be wrong.

For all the reasons Miguel Estrada’s federal judicial nomination has been filibustered in the Senate, Schwarzenegger is going to play it safe on announcing policy positions: people can’t be against you if they don’t know where you stand. Democrats have called Estrada a “stealth nominee” – trying to zoom past Senate confirmation without elucidating his stances on issues facing the courts. Schwarzenegger is trying to see how long he can go in this campaign as a “stealth candidate.” Judging by California’s disenchantment with Gray Davis and anything resembling political savvy, he’ll go far.

And that’s the thing: in California, experienced leadership isn’t the problem – Gray Davis is. That appears to be too nuanced a statement for some left coasters. Indeed, out in the Golden State, Schwarzenegger’s supporters are bound and determined to bet on good things in small packages. But unless they’re all applying for a spot on the Hilltop, I fear they are out of luck.

Adam Jones is a senior in the College and can be reached at jonesthehoya.com. POINT OF ORDER appears every other Friday in The Hoya.

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