The Terminator has been a pleasant surprise. I initially looked at his gubernatorial effort as one of those 'only in California' things, but his speech at the Republican Convention was the most fun I've ever had watching a politician. Clearly, his appeal is not to be underestimated. Still, there are some HUGE obstacles to a Schwarzenegger bid, the most prominent a constitutional one.
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger - Official Biography
Unofficial almost-campaign site - (via Primary 2008)
Resume - Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports from 1990 to 1993; former Mr. Olympia, Mr. Universe, and member of the Bodybuilder Hall of Fame; star of over 30 movies, many of them blockbusters; present Governor of California
This is all about Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution. More specifically, two issues are involved: (1) is it a good idea to change the amendment, and (2) is it a good idea to change the amendment for one man? The answer to number 2 is obviously that it is not, regardless of his popularity. What about the merits of the ban on foreign-born presidents? It's certainly not a popular idea to overturn the ban, but that hardly answers the question.
Two bills are hanging around Congress that would change the absolute ban to a requirement of 20 or 35 years residency, respectively. I don't see what difference an additional 15 years would make, so let's consider the Hatch bill with the 20-year requirement. Why 20 years? Is it a good idea at all? I like the 20-year requirement, personally. It would take a most patient plotter to live here for twenty years without arousing suspicion, if it's loyalty we're worried about. Besides, haven't Richard Reid and John Walker Lindh proved that treachery can come from within?
The best argument is that one can choose one's country of residence far more easily than one's place of birth, and most people who come to America do so because they fervantly believe in its promise. Amending the constitution in this manner would give them one more dream to pursue.
Having said that, though, I think Arnold's wife Maria is right on this one - we may elect a foreign-born president some day, but it won't be Arnold. A change this big will take years of debate to have a chance of passing.
CURRENT ODDS: 35-1
UPDATE 01/18/05 9:10 p.m.:Rod Stanton, a visitor to this blog, suggested in a polite way that I was out of my mind putting Arnold at 35-1, given the difficulties of amending the Constitution. I tend to agree; my bookie instincts deserted me for a time. I'm bumping the odds up considerably.
CURRENT ODDS: 60-1
CURRENT ODDS: 90-1
UPDATE 05/18/2005: The clock has about run out for Arnold; see comments here.
CURRENT ODDS: 160 -1
UPDATE 07/24/2005 10:56 p.m.:
CURRENT ODDS: 200-1: see here...