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October 8th, 2003 The Nose | The Nose
 

Arnold's "Packwood" Problem

     
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They were here.
Who would have thought Arnie had so much in common with Bob Packwood? Or that politics would, once again, prompt the question "What's wrong with an occasional grope between friends?"

At the time the Nose had to send this column to his editor, it was unclear if Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to be California's next governor. Arnie's chances, once assured, seemed to be in question due to the reports in the Los Angeles Times that he has a chronic need to reach up a shirt and grab a boob, to rifle into a skirt and grab a cheek or to force his tongue into the occasional mouth. At least 16 women, to date, have come forward with stories, many of them agreeing to be identified.

And while Arnie's pectorals may be bigger than the ones he was feeling up, he's a member of the same club to which former Sen. Bob Packwood belonged: the fraternity that views women like those rubber squeeze balls many executives use to relieve stress.

And the Nose won't even touch the Maria Shriver/ Elaine Franklin parallels.

The Nose took the occasion of the reports of Arnie's antics to track down Julie Williamson, one of the women who had to fend off the uninvited advances of Sen. Packwood. Williamson, who was on Packwood's staff and went on to run a number of political campaigns, was coaxed by the Washington Post to tell her story, which led to his departure from the U.S. Senate and became a watershed event in the evolution of the way men in power treat women.

Williamson told one of the Nose's associates that things have improved since Packwood was humiliated back in 1992, that in Washington, anyway, the climate is slightly less conducive to the antics that Arnold says he now apologizes for. As to the charge some have made that the uproar over Arnie trivializes the real challenges women face in the work place, she had this to say: "You can't have equality in the workplace unless women are safe, and they can't be safe if men can grope them. Isn't it that simple?"

The Nose is fully aware that the Democratic Party and Gray Davis are exploiting Arnie's behavior the way insurance hucksters describe a double-amputation car accident their friend just suffered while they try to sell you a new disability policy. But their motives don't white out the fact that Schwarzenegger's treatment of women ought to be enough to deny him a seat at most dinner tables--let alone the governorship of California.

Schwarzenegger's response to the late-breaking revelations is classic. His spokesman told the L.A. Times, "Arnold has acknowledged that at times his behavior, while good-natured, could be rowdy and bawdy. He has apologized to those who felt offended." Most tellingly, his spokesman added, "Arnold has stated, when he began his campaign, that he did not live his life under the expectation that he would someday be governor" (the Nose's italics).

Now, the Nose is among those who think that we occasionally do hold our elected officials to standards that are a bit absurd. Is it really fair that we ask politicians never to have smoked weed, gotten a speeding ticket or served wine out of a box?

But where does it say that your behavior should rise above that of a masturbating spider monkey only if you run for office?

 
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