If there is a bigger douche than Arnold Schwarzenegger in American politics, I can’t imagine who it might be. (Newt Gingrich, possibly.) Now, nearly two years after leaving office in political disgrace and then copping to the fact that he had an child with his family’s housekeeper, the former governor of California has embarked on a desperate quest to to rewrite history and rehabilitate his image.
He has purchased an academic institute at the University of Southern California and now has released a memoir which is ironically titled “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story.”
To promote his historical revisionism, Schwarzenegger appeared on CBS “60 Minutes” and admitted the extramarital affairs he’s had that the public already knows about:
Arnold Schwarzenegger says his lifelong penchant for secrecy and ability to put his emotions “on deep freeze” led him to keep many secrets from his wife Maria Shriver, eventually causing the dissolution of their marriage when he was forced to admit he fathered a child with the family’s housekeeper [Mildred Baena] years earlier.
Throughout their strained 25-year marriage, Schwarzenegger says he did not want to tell Shriver about crucial life decisions such as major heart surgery and running for California governor because he feared she would overreact and tell her well-connected family and friends…
To her credit, in the “60 Minutes” interview, Leslie Stahl did get Schwarzenegger to acknowledge that he’d had other affairs, including one with Brigitte Nielsen, which happened when he and Shriver were living together but not married. As to the other women, he told Stahl that those relationships are “something that’s obviously between Maria and me.”
What goes unsaid here is that Arnold Schwarzenegger could have never been elected governor in 2003, if voters had known about his penchant for cheating on his wife and lying about it. Just two weeks before the election, the Los Angeles Times published allegations from a dozen women that Schwarzenegger groped them, mostly in workplace settings. Schwarzenegger weathered the controversy with the help of Republican operatives who turned the discussion back on the Times, accusing the paper of fabricating the allegations in order to hobble Schwarzenegger who was the obvious frontrunner at the time.
In hopes of keeping the media from asking about the dozens of relationships with women he is rumored in Hollywood to have had while married to Shriver — some of which were allegedly paid transactions — Schwarzenegger also tosses red meat that journalistic lap dogs cannot resist: He says he even kept his political plans secret from his wife, who is, of course, a member of a famous family in Democratic Party politics:
Schwarzenegger praises Shriver throughout the book as a partner and friend who was essential to his success, but also admits to keeping her in the dark about many career decisions. Shriver filed for divorce in July.
Although he had been toying with the idea of running for governor for more than a year, Schwarzenegger waited until just days before the filing deadline for the 2003 recall to discuss it with Shriver, writing in the book that he “didn’t want endless conversation about it at home.”
Shriver opposed the idea, but was persuaded to soften her stance by her mother, Eunice Shriver, who told her to support her husband’s ambitions, or he might resent her for the rest of his life. Despite that struggle, he also didn’t inform her when he decided to seek a second term, writing that she had to read about it in the newspaper.
That advice from her mother has turned out to be really devastating — not just for Shriver and her children but for the state of California. Schwarzenegger was a terrible governor who was in way over his head. He left the state in worse shape than when he took over — a point that is underscored by the fact that his favorable ratings were in the 30s when he left office.
Of all the douchiest things he did in office, however, his vetoing of legislation passed by the state legislature that would have legalized marriage equality was the worst. And he did this not once but twice. This fact is almost always overlooked in national reporting on Proposition 8. But it was because of the politicizing of marriage equality — by this serial marriage abuser — that marriage equality went through the courts, then to the voters in Prop 8, and will now likely be decided by the Scalia Supreme Court.
Thanks for nothing, Arnold.