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Steve Lunetta: Arnold shows he’s one who lacks ‘Grit’

Right Here, Right Now!

Posted: January 9, 2011 9:41 p.m.
Updated: January 10, 2011 4:55 a.m.
 

“What are your intentions?”

“I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned, or see you hanged in Fort Smith at Judge Parker’s convenience. Now, which will it be?”

“Bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.”

“Fill your hands you son of a …!!!”

This classic exchange between Robert Duvall’s Lucky Ned Pepper and John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn in 1969’s “True Grit” culminated in one of the greatest scenes from a Western of all time — Cogburn charging across a meadow with his horse’s reins in his mouth, Colt revolver in one hand and a lever-action Henry rifle in the other, blazing away at four bad guys charging at him from the other side.

Lucky Ned turned out to be not-so-lucky that day. Cogburn wiped out his gang and showed that he really had grit. Cogburn was going to see Pepper answer for his crimes, no matter what the cost or personal risk.

What is grit? I’d define it as strength of character and convictions that will drive a man to accomplish great things. Grit means enduring hardship and pain for a greater reward later.

It also means doing the right thing even if its not convenient or politically expedient.

A football coach who voluntarily comes forward and admits one of his players is academically ineligible, which causes him to forfeit a game and an undefeated season — that’s grit.

A ship’s captain whose ship was sinking, on fire, outnumbered and outgunned, was taunted by his British enemy. His legendary “I have not yet begun to fight” inspired his men who promptly took the enemy vessel. That’s grit.

A Chinese man who stands in front of a column of tanks in the belief that freedom for his country is more important than his own life — that’s grit.

An army commander whose 101st Airborne Division was surrounded in Bastogne in the dead of winter by a powerful German Panzer army. Freezing, sick, starving and out of ammo, the commander was told to surrender by the Germans.

“Nuts,” was his response. That’s grit.

A governor who commutes the sentence of a 22-year-old kid for stabbing a college student and participating in the murder of another because the kid’s dad was the former speaker of the California State Assembly is — shameful.

For those of you who didn’t catch it, outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted the sentence of 22-year-old
Esteban Nuñez, son of ex-Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, from 16 years to seven years. Nuñez was an old political buddy of Schwarzenegger’s, and that connection paid off big time for little Esteban.

What a painful disappointment this governor has been. Schwarzenegger was unable to bring the spending beast under control, improve the budget process, reform education, suppress the ravenous public employee unions or significantly improve the business climate in the Golden State.

And now, he grants a political favor that shatters what little was left of his public image of decency and competence. I wonder what he got in exchange? One can only speculate.

Schwarzenegger’s political career is over, since the Constitution will prevent him from seeking the presidency (thankfully), so future political consideration is out. He has tons of money, so financial gain is not a possibility.

The only possibility is that he was doing a friend a favor. Not a bad thing, but it was at the expense of the people of the state of California, a group he was sworn to protect and serve. The commutation of Nuñez is a betrayal of that trust.

It also shows that Schwarzenegger was not the movie character that we all thought he was. The cigar-chomping, machine-gun wielding, killing machine that defends women and children was not the guy we got. He had no grit. He was just another machine politician doing favors for his buddies.

Schwarzenegger once teased politicians in Sacramento by calling them “girlie men.” This pejorative term was used to describe politics as usual and the lack of strength of character or conviction by those in power. It is now ironic that Schwarzenegger has become the thing he once derided — just another “girlie man.”

Grit is a quality that all of us should aspire to have. To face our enemies boldly and not back down no matter the cost. We should look for it in our leaders as well.

Let’s hope that our new governor and House of Representatives has true grit. Anyone got an eye patch?

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and has “True Grit” — at least on paper in his garage. He can be reached at slunetta63@yahoo.com. His column represents his own opinions and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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