Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Schwarzenegger's 'incident' and the course of California history

DSK-EPA The universe sure has a droll sense of timing.

First there's Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund who was, until he was yanked off an Air France flight and now sits in jail at Rikers Island on suspicion of sexually assaulting a hotel maid, the leading candidate to take on Nicolas Sarkozy for the presidency of France.

The French press, deeply skittish when it comes to covering the personal lives of its public figures, evidently for legal as well as cultural reasons, is looking at itself in the mirror and asking whether it's been too forgiving or too timid in light of complaints now surfacing about DSK's "past conduct."

Most of France only found out about former President Francois Mitterrand's "second family" as Mitterrand was ailing, and the outrage was directed largely at the press that reported it not at Mitterrand. (That changed a bit when it turned out Mitterrand had sometimes put up his "second family’’ in public buildings at public expense.)

Many Europeans have sneered at Americans for getting our knickers in a twist over politicians' sexual misconduct (although Americans have been more likely to criticize "family values" politicians who had been caught hypocritically with those self-same knickers down).

When it comes to the public discourse on public matters, personal behavior can distract voters and reduce politics to matters of personality and not policy; it's much easier for the media to report on, and much easier for the public to understand and to judge, sexual misconduct than it is to master complexities like, say, raising the debt ceiling, which requires the marshaling of facts as well as morals. 

Arnold And now there's Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is revealed to be the father of a 10-year-old child by someone who worked for 20 years right in his house, both before and after the child's birth.

When it comes to DSK and Schwarzenegger, it is beyond question that rape is altogether and entirely different from infidelity -- by a long shot.

But the world that is now tsk-tsking Schwarzenegger for apparently consensual extramarital sex that produced a child surely includes some of the same people who heaped scorn on The Times in 2003, for stories before the recall election that made Arnold Schwarzenegger governor.

Those stories recounted unwelcome and unwanted groping incidents detailed by women who had encountered and worked with Schwarzenegger. After the stories ran, Schwarzenegger responded, with his wife, Maria Shriver, backing him up. He didn't go into detail, but he did apologize thusly: "Yes, I have behaved badly sometimes. Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets," and did things "I thought were playful that now I recognize that I have offended people." Right after the election, he also said he'd hire private investigators to look into the women's allegations -- a plan he abandoned within a month.

What's stupefying now -- epoustouflant, as the French say -- is to realize that when he was making these apologies and denials and explanations, a child he had fathered out of wedlock with an employee was already a year or two old.

Some readers who hammered the reporters and the reportage in 2003, complaining about "invasion of privacy" and "irrelevance" during the gubernatorial campaign, may now the same ones now demanding of reporters, "Gee, why didn't you tell us about this child before?"

DSK's arrest will surely change French politics.

What about Schwarzenegger and California? If California had known about the existence of this child before the 2003 recall would Schwarzenegger have lost? The fact that his wife left him in January, right after she found out about the child, says to me that she probably wouldn’t have stood by her man and tolerated that behavior as she did in defending him in 2003 against the groping allegations. This "incident" was orders of magnitude different.

Alternative history time: How different might those seven years have been with a governor not named Schwarzenegger in Sacramento? And how much better off might California have been? Seriously -– how could things have been much worse?

RELATED:

Arnold Schwarzenegger's failings

Lopez: Schwarzenegger's lies have a familiar ring

IMF chief's arrest stirs up anti-Americanism in France

The American commentary on France's reaction to DSK's alleged sex scandal

-- Patt Morrison

Photos, from top: IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn; former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Credits: Horacio Villalobos / European Pressphoto Agency; Mandel Ngan / Getty Images

 

Comments () | Archives (18)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Silverlake Mike

California voted for the guy and deserves all the calamities that came with that vote.

SRC

I remember when he declared himself as a Republican. Pathetic.

Kit

He would clearly have lost had he been truthful with the people of California. That is why his political, media and legal teams went to such lengths to conceal the truth. Jay Leno would have been making jokes about his candidacy, rather than providing him a platform to announce his ego-driven intentions, but now, the joke is on us.

chris brandow

as kevin drum points out: no arnold = no car tax repeal = 6-7 billion additional annual revenue = no bond issues to meet revenue needs prior to recession = much smaller deficit now.

ugh.

newmuch

I previously posted a comment very critical of Mr. Schwarzenegger. However, I now wish to add that I believe that it showed a great deal of character and courage on his part to acknowledge paternity. He had kept the secret for many years and, from what we know, could have taken it to the grave with him. Let's face, it a lot of people have affairs out of wedlock which produce children but never have the guts to admit it and, thus, their out of wedlock children never know who their father is and are not able to receive an inheritance. Although he demonstrated human frailty, in my opinion, he has done his best to make up for it. I hope and pray that all directly concerned have a happy, healthy life free of harassment.

trust no one

newmuch,

Too bad he couldn't control himself before he inseminated his housekeeper. I guess he forgot he was married. Maybe he left his wedding ring on the dresser, or his car, or his boat, or his office. Anywhere but his finger. It's easy to forget you're married, right? It's easy to 'lose control', whatever that means.

Arnold is human trash. Applauding his 'taking responsibility' is faint praise considering the damage he has done to his children, his wife, his marriage and the son he had out of wedlock.

I'll repeat again - human trash.

Cherie A

Newmuch, would you feel the same if you knew the only reason he said anything is because the child's mother threaten to go public? He wasn't struggling with a moral dilemma, and he wasn't showing character and/or courage, his back was against the wall. And that is the only reason he confessed.

Maria DeMeo

Thank God Ms. Shriver possesses an enormous amount of class which she inherited from her excellent parents.

hector

How about the only reason he exposed this other child was to get Maria out of the house so that community property laws would hold that the separation happened before he signed the multi-million dollar movie deals?
How about he is still utilizing these kids as props in opportunity photos to give himself more free publicity in jump-starting this totally OVER movie career?
How about that Maria was always a more bankable commodity than he ever was?
How about his telling the Austrians that it cost him 200 million to be governor of California?
It cost us 60 billion and counting.
Anyone who buys a ticket to his films is insulting us all.

Mitchell Young

"no arnold = no car tax repeal = 6-7 billion additional annual revenue = no bond issues to meet revenue needs prior to recession = much smaller deficit now."

I'm not here to defend Schwartzenegger, but that isn't the way it works. By letting people keep their money, the government let them spend elsewhere. That spending was taxed, as were the salaries of the people selling them the stuff, making the stuff (or transporting it if it was imported) and so on. Lowering the vehicle tax was simply a conservative way of doing 'stimulus' .

MICHAEL WHITE

I voted against the recall of Grey Davis in 2003. Thought it was a bad idea. If L.A. Times were to do a poll of voters now, how many would now agree the recall of Grey Davis was a bad idea? You should check into it.

Joe

"I'm not here to defend Schwartzenegger, but that isn't the way it works. By letting people keep their money, the government let them spend elsewhere. That spending was taxed, as were the salaries of the people selling them the stuff, making the stuff (or transporting it if it was imported) and so on. Lowering the vehicle tax was simply a conservative way of doing 'stimulus' ."

Sorry, Mitchell, but what you described "isn't the way it works." Despite the lies the GOP has been feeding for years, it simply defies logic that a $6-$7 billion tax cut could possibly stimulate enough tax revenue so that it's offset or even results in more revenue. Think about the logical implications of your statement: why not cut taxes to .000001% or some other infinitely low amount, because by your logic the increased spending will result in the same amount of revenue!!!

At some point you have to pay for what you get. Supply side economics might work at highly confiscatory tax rates of 80%, 90%, 95%, but at any reasonable rate it doesn't work. The past thirty years provides documentary proof of that. Schwarzenegger blew a hole in the budget with his tax cut and got the state to issue bonds to cover the deficit. That's a fact. With the reduced revenue, the failure to cut spending, and the increased interest - all to fuel a measly tax cut that never would have happened with Gray Davis as governor - California was off on the merry path to fiscal ruin we're in today.

alex macdonald

The important thing about Arnold is that he is a Republican and, unlike the rest of the breed, charming, even if he is physically a bit repulsive. He is a typical Republican: he subverts government in order to flatter and enrich the rich among whom he likes to cavort. His cuts to California's budgets were death by a thousand cuts to the state's economy.

It remains to be seen whether California can be resuscitated, or will go the way of the rest of the country. I am hopeful, now that we have a real governor in Sacramento, a man of some probity, that is not too late for us. Issa's successful campaign to recall the arrogant mediocrity Gray Davis, and the subsequent election -- 250 candidates, including a weight-lifter -- was California's tea-bagging moment. As usual, the insanity spread eastward -- something to do with the winds -- and by last year it engulfed the Midwest and the ex-slave states of the Confederacy, but California had already begun to clean up the mess Issa had unleashed and turn back the two most heavily financed and crude politicians to assault good government here since the days of Max Rafferty and Richard Nixon.

lois eisenberg

Don't trust the celebrities who expire to politics. "Proof of the pudding"
Arnold and Donald!!

Mitchell Young

"Think about the logical implications of your statement: why not cut taxes to .000001% or some other infinitely low amount, because by your logic the increased spending will result in the same amount of revenue!!!"

Think about the logical implications of *your* position, Joe. Why not just raise taxes to 50% on incomes, 50% on sales? Let's see how that effects the economy.

I don't know where California is on the Laffer curve (that is, whether a tax cut would bring in more revenue via increased economic activity, or less due to, well, lower taxes). But I do know that any tax increase causes what economists call a 'dead weight loss', so that raising fees in one area will invariably cause less economic activity in other areas, therefore less activities. In other words Drum's story is too simplistic-- maybe the state would have netted 2-3-4 billion from the vehicle fee, but not the full 6-7 billion. At any rate, it would still be short.

Mitchell Young

Imagine Gray Davis hadn't taken a dive on Prop 187. With a pretty conservative SCOTUS (not to 15-20 years of data showing the disaster of a permissive attitude towards illegal immigration) it would have likely gone through . Things would really be better then!

DiMi

Good article; this revelation would have destroyed his political career. Somebody with this kind of secret had no business running for office.
However, 1. Please your information needs to be updated. Schwarzenegger found out 10 years ago, but the child was already a toddler. 2. You have errors/omitted words in the 2nd to last and 4th to last paragraphs.

DiMi

Good article; this revelation would have destroyed his political career. Somebody with this kind of secret had no business running for office.
However, 1. Please your information needs to be updated. Schwarzenegger found out 10 years ago, but the child was already a toddler. 2. You have errors/omitted words in the 2nd to last and 4th to last paragraphs.


Connect

Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video


Categories


Recent Posts
Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »

Archives
 


About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



In Case You Missed It...