Happier times: Maria Shriver arrives with her children to watch husband… (Los Angeles Times )
I hate to sound naive, but I was disappointed in Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest performance -- as the philandering former governor of California, seeking redemption through a new autobiography, who sits for an interview with CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl.
In Schwarzenegger’s appearance on “60 Minutes” Sunday night, he had an opportunity to offer contrition for his sins. And, here, I’m only talking about his sins against his long-suffering estranged wife, Maria Shriver. I’m not even talking about the allegations of Schwarzenegger having groped more than a dozen women over the years who did not want his attention and were humiliated by it.
Instead, he offered up tight-lipped, terse, even matter-of-fact responses to questions about his colossal betrayal of his wife. He admitted he had other affairs in addition to the affair with the family housekeeper with whom he fathered a son around the same time that he fathered his fourth child with Shriver. “This was a recurring problem?” asked Stahl, poking him to come a little cleaner. “I’m not perfect,” he answered. There’s an understatement for you.
His actions seem even more despicable, if that’s possible, when you consider -- as “60 Minutes” reminded us by running the tape -- that Shriver made an electrifying defense of her husband in the wake of the groping allegations when she made a campaign appearance, telling an audience, "You can listen to people who have never met Arnold or who met him for five seconds 30 years ago. Or you can listen to me." We don’t know what, if anything, she knew or believed about the allegations of sexual harassment. But, according to Schwarzenegger, she had no idea that he and her housekeeper had a son together.
Yes, it’s always difficult to own up to deeply personal transgressions, and he did have the good sense to say that the affair with the housekeeper was “the stupidest thing” he did in his relationship with Shriver and that it inflicted horrible pain on her and their children. But no one forced him to write a book about himself or sit for this interview.
Schwarzenegger has been many things in his multi-faceted life -- a onetime possessor of a storied physique, a savvy real estate investor, a popular action hero and, against all odds, the elected governor of California. Precisely because he’s so adept at reinventing himself, I figured he would reemerge chastened, introspective and remorseful. Instead, as he told Stahl, some denial and secrecy have been part of his pattern as he moves through his life. Sunday night, he came across as a man who has simply moved past all the emotional damage he wrought and now wants another incarnation.
Let’s just hope Maria Shriver has moved way past him.
What would a married Jesus say?
Porn, safe sex, and condoms: not as simple as it seems