Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsMovie Sets

Muscle and Meanness

October 03, 2003

Arnold Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign didn't appear to require much damage control after six women claimed that as long ago as 1975 and as recently as 2000 he groped and otherwise sexually harassed them. Nonetheless, before cheering crowds, the movie-star-turned-candidate energetically dismissed the report in Thursday's Times as "trash politics." At the same time, he apologized to any woman he had offended when he "behaved badly" on "rowdy movie sets."

Blaming the media and charging opponents with running a dirty campaign are time-honored tactics for deflecting unwelcome scrutiny. And what better way to keep a would-be scandal from escalating than to issue a blanket apology -- after his spokesman's blanket denial.

Even his friends have portrayed Schwarzenegger as a bawdy man who thrives on being the center of attention and is not above demeaning someone for a laugh. These accounts of public groping and grinning -- in restaurants and offices as well as on movie sets -- are more about being top dog than about sex. They are different only in degree from the mean-spirited "practical jokes" Schwarzenegger practiced at the gym to humiliate fellow bodybuilders.

Maybe that's what voters want this time: to have the class bully on their side. His fans seem to want Schwarzenegger to stride into Sacramento and mop up the floor with that loser legislative crew. Perhaps they think muscle and meanness is what it takes to wring gambling money out of federally protected Indian tribes, arm-wrestle employee unions into giving back benefits they've been promised and undo unpopular taxes.

Problem is, a man who describes humiliating waitresses, secretaries and stuntwomen as "playful" seems an unlikely champion of the little people, including those who would vote him into office.

If only the waitress who said he asked her for a crude favor had followed her instincts and poured that hot coffee in his lap.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|