No reason to recant support for Arnold

October 07, 2003|By SUSAN REIMER

A COUPLE OF weeks ago, I wrote a column saying that if I were a Californian, I would vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I said 25-year-old raunchy quotes about women didn't faze me. And besides, I admired his immigrant's enthusiasm for the American dream and many of the women-friendly planks in his platform.

Now that a Los Angeles Times investigative reporting team has tracked down more than a dozen women who say Arnold man-handled them - and pretty recently, too - I guess I should recant.

But I can't seem to find a good reason.

Perhaps it is because Arnold won't be my governor if the recall of Democrat Gray Davis succeeds in today's vote.

Perhaps it is because California is on another coast - and, in some ways, on another planet.

But perhaps it is because the indignity well is bone dry in women like me.

Bill Clinton saw to that.

We learned during his administration to separate a man's libido from his social agenda. Now Californians will have to do that, too.

Watching how the grand dames of feminism have responded to Republican Schwarzenegger is proof of the convenience of outrage.

To hear Democratic women tell it, Bill and Monica were involved in a consensual relationship. Arnold falls just short of being a rapist. Bill had a brilliant mind and a healthy, if unchecked, libido. Arnold is a big, stupid brute.

And, Democrats say, at least Bill wasn't betraying the country. Arnold is trying to steal the governorship of the largest state in the union on the eve of a presidential election.

Flip the party affiliation, and you get this: Arnold was inappropriate in his youth. Bill caused a constitutional crisis. Arnold was playful. Bill was pathological.

These partisan arguments miss the one thing these men have in common: They adore themselves (and they assume women do, too). And they believe such perfection entitles them to be in charge.

If either man had a drop of humility to dilute the hubris, he would recognize that he is unfit for public office.

Not because he couldn't do the job, but because no decent man with this kind of behavior on his conscience would put his wife and children through such a public humiliation.

I think the Democrats who are appalled by Arnold's behavior and the Republicans who dismiss it as movie-town mischief miss the point.

Henceforth, a candidate's sexual behavior is going to be an issue in any campaign for public office, and voters are going to have to look the other way when they pull the lever. They will have to choose, not a candidate, but an agenda they can support.

Unless it is a woman running.

After all, Hillary wasn't having an affair with a unstable White House intern. And Maria wasn't seen groping an unwilling pool boy.

Women don't believe they are entitled to that kind of thing.

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