The Phony Shame Over Arnold's Love Child

You’d think Jon Fleischman, guru of Flash Report and former consigliere to convicted Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona, would have a stronger stomach. But the delicate Fleischman reports himself sick over news of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child. “I mean, the fact that that I voted for him twice makes me nauseous,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sorry, I’m not buying it, not from Jon and from any of the others who once supported the former governor and now claim to feel soiled by him.

The news may add a previously invisible branch to the Schwarzenegger family tree and a detail to Arnold’s biography. But it doesn’t say anything new about his character.

The full Arnold Schwarzenegger was on display, naked and oiled, before anybody ever cast a vote for him. The narcissism of a life lived in front of movie cameras and the mirrors of body-building gyms. The hunger to hear the roar of the crowds. The appetite for pleasure and sensation. The delight in bullying and humiliating opponents. The chameleon politics. The sense of entitlement of someone who believes he is above others and doesn’t have to live by the rules. And, of a piece with everything else, the abuse of women and particularly, as we learned through the 2003 reporting of the Los Angeles Times, of female underlings powerless to fend off or report his advances.

Californians knew all that in 2003, or could have. And nothing they knew was inconsistent with the possibility of secret love children. They voted for Schwarzenegger anyway.

Indeed, as Joe Mathews reports in The People’s Machine, the Times’ reporting of Schwarzenegger’s sexual misconduct validated his standing among conservative voters and led many to give him their votes in the 2003 recall. In other words, some people voted for him not in spite of his character flaws but because they saw the revelation of those flaws as a signal that Schwarzenegger was one of them. And among those voters was Fleischman, who went with Schwarzenegger, an abuser of women and a Republican “squish,” over the principled and upright (but less electable) conservative Tom McClintock.

The transaction was clear from the start. Republican political pros were using a celebrity of dubious character for their purposes even as Schwarzenegger was using them for his. It’s politics as usual. What’s strange here is for a journalist to cooperate in the charade that the transaction made them queasy. If that were so, there would not be enough marijuana in all of Humboldt County to quell the nausea or priests enough to take the confessions.