June 24, 2004

Schwarzenegger's smoking tent.

I'm glad there are smoking bans in various public buildings and I wish people wouldn't smoke, but I can't help admiring Governor Schwarzenegger's stylish way to continue smoking cigars: as the NYT reports, he's got a "Bedouin-style smoking tent ... set up in the courtyard of the State Capitol ... decorated with rattan chairs, orchids, a humidor, a mirror, floor fan and books written by Mr. Schwarzenegger." He does "much of his private business" in this 5-by-15-foot tent, which reflects his belief that "Success requires a combination of discipline, optimism, humor, a willingness to share credit and good cigars and an ability to cut back-room deals." When life gives you a smoking ban, set up a smoking tent is Schwarzenegger's version of when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. The Times develops a sinister angle, quoting the governor likening public governance to Hollywood contracts:
He defended his practice of negotiating key sections of important legislation and the budget behind closed doors or in his smoke-filled tent.

"For the public you write agreements and then you have another agreement they put in the safe that no one is seeing - the thing with all the perks and the percentages because they do not want to break the mold and all of a sudden now here's a guy who gets instead of 15 percent, 20 percent in the gross. Then that'll be kept in the safe.

"Or that I get instead of a 30-foot trailer, a 40-foot trailer. That could break the mold and then every star wants a 40-foot trailer. That is then in the safe, that is never in the agreement, O.K.?"

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