Does Arnold Schwarzenegger Deserve our Anger?

In an appearance on Meet the Press, former California Governor and Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted that because of his extramarital activities, he deserves the anger coming at him. Politico explains:

“But let me tell you, if the people are angry with me, I deserve that,” Schwarzenegger said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Schwarzenegger separated from his wife Maria Shriver last year over the revelation that he had fathered a child with the family housekeeper.

“I know there was a major screw up. I’ve hurt my wife, I’ve hurt the kids. I take the responsibility and i will do everything that I can,” he told host David Gregory. “I’m not looking for sympathy at all. People should make up their own mind about what they think of me.”

The bigger question here is this: Does the Governor’s affair impact his ability to be an effective or good elected official? How about a man of good character? In the interview, Schwarzenegger says he still thinks he is.

What do you think?



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  1. courage the cowardly dog says:

    Bertrand Russell was a philosopher and social critic and British aristocrat. He did not seek or hold any public office I believe. So he never really put himself out there or represented that he necessarily carried an ethical mantle like maybe David Cameron does. Arnold Schwarzenegger represented himself to be a moral leader and he wasn’t. I won’t criticize Bertrand Russel, but certainly his stature in my mind is diminished. I am not terribly familiar with his social philosophy, but I know he was opposed to World War I. Nevertheless, he was never in a postion to make policies that affected a nation. So what he did in his personal llife is less significant than what a person who has sought and received public support for setting policy has done.

    • Although Bertrand Russell was not an elected official, he was a member of the Labour Party and very much involved in the political issues of the day. He was left-wing, anti-imperialist and a supporter of many humanitarian causes. He even did time for his political activism. Had he sought public office and remained who he was, I would have the same opinion about him.

      If Schwarzenegger represented himself as a moral leader, I would be more critical of his infidelities due to the hypocrisy involved, but that was not how he represented himself. What’s more, people knew what they were getting with Schwarzenegger with all the stories about his sexual indiscretions. He never pretended to be an angel when it came to matters about sex. It would be different if we were talking about a Newt Gingrich or Ted Haggard type of character. In those types of instances I think such figures deserve to be raked over the coals by the public for their infidelities because of their highly critical public stances against the sexual indiscretions of public figures and people generally.

      Ultimately it’s up to each member of the public to determine what their priorities are when these cases occur. Some people will care about the infidelities of public figures and some won’t. I’m quite happy to let each individual come to their own conclusions on the matter.

      • courage the cowardly dog says:

        You are missing the point. It is not his sexual indiscretion that I find so disturbing, it is his complete lack of integrity. He lied to his wife who made his political career. Without her help he would not have won the governorship. Yet, without much hesitation he lied to her. Why should I believe any promises he makes as a candidate for elected office. In deciding who to vote for you have to assess the candidate’s credibility. He has none. With the help of his wife, who he lied to, he conned his way into the governorship. What qualified him to be governor of California. He was a body builder and an actor (and not a good one at that). Ronald Reagan was at least president of the Screen Actors Guild. The Arnold was completely unqualified for the office and he did nothing for the State of California. If you voted for him he played you like a fiddle.

      • courage the cowardly dog says:

        Had Bertrand Russell run for elected office and I knew about his infedelity I would question his credibilty and integrity. When you cheat on your spouse you lie to them. If you are willing to lie to someone you ostensibly made a lifetime commitment to what would possibly give you pause from lieing to a multitude of voters you don’t know? It is a question of credibility. While sexual indiscretion may not be an automatic disqualifier from public office, it damn well should raise questions in a votier’s mind as to how believeable a candidate is. Had the Monica Lewinsky affair been revealed during Clinton’s first term I am not sure he would have been re-elected.

  2. Angry? No. Disappointed? No. I don’t hold most politicians in high enough regard for them to disappoint me, particularly if they are of Schwarzenegger’s political persuasion. Obviously, it’s not a good thing to cheat on your spouse, but that’s an issue for him and his family. I’m smart and sensible enough to realise everybody is fallible and the opportunity for sexual gratification can be particularly enticing, given our sexual natures. As someone already pointed out, there are many examples of people succumbing to sexual temptation in their personal lives, but being wonderful pioneers and advocates for worthy causes in other areas. I’m very aware this dichotomy can and often does exist.

    I’m less forgiving of public figures who display intellectual dishonesty to support what I might consider to be unethical positions or public figures whose positions I find disagreeable. For example, I don’t like David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party in the UK and the current British Prime Minister, despite the fact that he is a family man and appears to be faithful to his wife. I couldn’t care less. However, I’m a huge admirer of the late Bertrand Russell, the philosopher and social critic, despite the fact that he had numerous affairs behind his wife’s back. For me, he still had infinitely more character, integrity and moral fibre than someone like David Cameron. So these things are not so straight forward. Human beings are complex and will have both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ traits. I think people often set themselves up for disappointment by having unrealistic expectations of public figures, when, beyond a certain age, they should really be grown up enough to realise that anyone they support will have some failings.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    Of course, a leader has to be a moral example, and how can you trust someone who lies to his family, etc., etc. That’s all plausible, feel-good stuff.

    The thing is, a cursory glance at political history turns up many great male leaders who were less than faithful to their wives. Somehow we don’t have to forgive *them* to think that they were good leaders.

    In some ways, we the public DO want our political leaders to lie. We expect them to make us feel good. We expect them to deliver simple messages we can follow. We certainly expect them to keep secrets from the American people, especially in wartime. If the White House leaks confidential information to the press, a lot of us think it’s a poorly run White House. The President is the head of the intelligence community – do you expect the U.S. to have spies overseas and never lie about it? Isn’t it bad when a politician reveals Valerie Plame’s CIA cover?

    Presumably, as governor Schwarzenegger had to maintain certain levels of confidentiality within state government. As the head of many state agencies, he was required by law to keep some personnel decisions confidential. He could have been ruthlessly honest and made public every state employee’s personnel file, but to do so would be a terrible breach.

    A leader who can’t lie cannot keep secrets and therefore cannot maintain confidentiality. (Good Lord, I sound like a cross between Kissinger and Nixon. What’s happening to me?)

  4. I think a man that would screw over his own family is a man that would screw over anybody. If you ultimately do what is best for *you* even in favor of your own family, you’re not going to be there for the people you represent.

    I also think it’s natural for people to feel angry at public officals that fall because they are given a certain level of respect and stewardship over the common everyday girl or guy. We put ourselves in the story and think about how we would feel if that happened to us. Which is why we get angry. I don’t think that’s wrong. That’s simply being empathetic.

  5. “Our” anger? Who is “we” in this instance–all of society? You don’t speak for me, certainly. I’m neither happy nor angry with Schwarzenegger over this revelation, as it’s totally irrelevant to his work in office.

    The notion that society should condemn public officials for issues in their personal lives is silly; didn’t we already beat that idea to death with Pres. Clinton?

  6. Bill Berry says:

    The answer is no. There is simply no way to know today or the days that immediately follow if he is sincerely true to his words and his feelings and whom among us can admit in such a forum or medium to each/all our faults before a jury of over 300 million not simply his wife/ex-wife and children and their immediate family. The divorce rate in the United States is too high as it is and even higher among celebrities. He is by no means a hero but neither is he any less a man than I; he’s human, no greater and no lesser and we should leave him and Maria and their family alone. If I were to meet him, simply I would shake his hand and convey humanness and humanity trump cynicism; he’s a human being, as am I, as all you are. It deserves privacy and I would demand no less if it were I.

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      It deserves privacy and I would demand no less if it were I.

      Did you write a book about your life a good part of which you sought to rationalize bad behavior and expect to make millions of dollars from? HE WROTE A BOOK ABOUT HIS LIFE!!!! Isn’t he thrustsing the issue into the public forum? He benefited from his wife’s extensive political connections and then he betrayed and lied to her and his kids. He is a public figure who derives great benefit from the fact that he was governor of the largest state in the union, which he wouldn’t have been but for his wife’s political connections. I won’t buy the book because I refuse to give him money. Its appalling to me that anyone would think this man has any character except bad character. I don’t like the idea of my kids looking at him and seeing a successful person despite his horrendous behavioir. You can vote for him and buy his book; he counts on fools like you.

  7. courage the cowardly dog says:

    You gotta to be kidding me!!!!
    What makes anybody think this guy is not going to lie to voters in an election campaign when he doesn’t hesitate to lie to his wife? You can’t win an election in California without Democratic support. Maria Shriver and her connections to the Kennedys delivered the votes for him to be elected. He owes his political career to her. He’s a buffoon. A liar. He is not a man of good character and not only does the public not have any duty to forgive him, but rather the public has a duty to be skepitical of his mea cuplas and rationalizations for his reprehensible behavior. He gets a woman pregnant, hides the affair from his wife and children and you suggest the public has a duty to forgive him? Really??!?!?!?!?!

  8. Angry? No.

    Disappointed? Yes.

  9. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    This kind of thing isn’t anyone’s business but the candidate’s/office holder’s and their family’s.

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      I disgree. What public resources did he use to help him cover up the affair? When his mind should have been on the business of governing California, how much of a distraction did the affair and cover up occupy his mind and time? I want a governor who isn’t distracted by these kind of things particularly in the case of California which is pretty screwed up.

  10. As a resident of California, the revelations about Arnold’s extramarital activities didn’t shock me, as stories about his past shenanigans were widely reported during the election. It didn’t stop me from voting for him at the time. I voted for him even tho I’m a Democrat. I hoped he might have the charisma and force of will to break through the gridlock in the Legislature. He failed, to a large degree, but that is not really his fault. California’s governance is broken at all levels. Anyway, I thought that having a love child with a housekeeper under his wife’s nose was a pretty strange thing to do, and if I were Maria, I’d be pissed. I suspect she knew he was a philanderer but tolerated it as long as he was discreet. Kind of the same thing I suspect about the Clintons. But, well, he’s no longer the governor so at this point it is really an issue for him and his family to deal with.

  11. One one hand I agree that cheating on one’s spouse does bring their character into question and it’s reasonable to think about one’s strength of character when considering their ability to lead in an elected position. On the other I think it’s one thing to question his ability to lead in some role and another to just be mad at him because he cheated on his wife.

    I can understand someone saying they would have doubts about voting for him in the future but I think someone talking like their forgiveness is somehow as vital as forgiveness from Maria, the housekeeper, and the children invovlved is something else.

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