Schwarzenegger used to exemplify politico-showbiz ridiculousness. Now he’s our true moral governator | Peter Bradshaw

Sword in hand, the governator’s clarion call for decency on YouTube was cheesy but also genuinely heartfelt and stirring

How amazing. Until a few years ago – 2016, in fact – if you asked people for the most absurd example of the politico-showbusiness complex in the 21st-century United States, they would have said Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recall election as governor of California in 2003, his candidacy being announced on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He was re-elected in 2006, and just about maintained a cheerfully Reaganesque public image of a moderate Republican – uneventfully standing down in 2011 to resume his movie career.

We all took the mickey out of the governator. But, right now, he is America’s moral governator with real moral authority. It was the governator who uploaded a video telling Americans to stay home during the Covid crisis. And now it is the governator who has issued a clarion call for decency on YouTube with his admittedly cheesy but genuinely stirring, heartfelt and relevant rebuke to the Trumpians and their desecration of the Capitol – a desecration that even now many Republicans and many sophisticates on the right cannot bring themselves to condemn fully.

In his mature Reaganesque style, Schwarzenegger addressed the nation from a presidential-style desk, with the stars and stripes and Californian flag in the background, and a photo of himself in his bodybuilding pomp. With Hollywood-style music on the audio track, he denounced the complicit enablers of Trump’s fascism – culminating in a hilarious flourish of Conan the Barbarian’s sword.

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