The LA Times was saving up a devastating story about Schwarzenegger’s career as a serial groper. Six women over twenty years, all found by the Times as opposed to coming forward or being put forward by rival campaigns, two willing to be quoted by name, the other four confirmed by interviews with friends who recall contemporaneous conversations in which the victims complained.
No mention of his sexual dalliance with a minor, which was, apparently, entirely consensual. I’ve always thought that was his major vulnerabilty.
This stuff, as disgusting and even criminal as it is (any unwanted touching constitutes battery, which is a misdemeanor, and at least one of the acts reported seems to fit the definition of “sexual battery” under California law, which can be prosecuted as a felony) doesn’t directly speak to how Schwarzenegger would conduct official business.
As a result, I’d have to say it’s only somewhat relevant to a voter’s decision: that is, it certainly counts as a reason to find someone else to vote for if possible, but it doesn’t mean you might not wind up voting for the creep if the other choices are clearly worse. (Anyone who doesn’t regret voting for Clinton would have to say as much; there’s no doubt that he had as President, and for all I know still has, grabby hands.)
The Schwarzenegger campaign offered a pro forma denial and said Schwarzenegger would not make any comment. My guess, for what it’s worth, is that the voters have already mostly factored this stuff in to their thinking. The “family values” crowd will simply decide not to believe it. (If McClintock decided to make a big fuss about it, things might be different, but he probably won’t.) In the end, I bet the story will do no more than shave a couple of points off Schwarzenegger’s victory margin. But my guesses about this election haven’t been worth much so far, so we can always hope I’m wrong again.
Schwarzenegger, having denied everything through a spokesman last night, now ‘fesses up, sortakinda. [*] He was just being playful, but he’s really sorry if anyone took it the wrong way.
Kaus offers an important comment, one I haven’t seen elsewhere: this isn’t (just) about sex, it’s about someone who likes to humiliate people it’s in his power to humiliate with impunity: in other words, a bully. Bullying is probably a greater character flaw in a potential governor than grabby-handedness, and thus more relevant to voters’ choices. Still, I won’t pretend that someone who prefers conservative to liberal policies for California would be committing a moral outrage in voting for Schwarzenegger, knowing what we now know.
On the other hand, Schwarzenegger’s “apology” actually compounds his offense, as I see it.
I know that the people of California can see through this trash politics.
Let me tell you something, let me tell you something. A lot of those that you see in the stories is not true …
“Trash politics” suggests that this was a plot by his opponents, which is, if the reporters are to believed about how the story was reported, not true. And the vague denial about “a lot of those that you see in the stories” in effect accuses his victims of lying. That’s a pretty strange way to start an apology, don’t you think?
His statement is one of the great public relations moves, in the tradition of Janet Reno “taking full responsibility” for Waco and not resigning. Amazing how reliably reporters fall for this stuff, isn’t it?
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