Monday, October 06, 2003

Humor Police, Vol. 2: TNR seems to really have it in for Arnold lately. Their blog is puffing up his sexual proclivities, saying the comparison to Clinton is inapt because: "what Schwarzenegger's various sexual exploits have in common seems to be his desire to assert power over other people by publicly humiliating them." Which is, implicitly, worse than privately raping them.

But it's not just what he does to women. Here's their latest example, from the NYT, of how Schwarzenegger practices "the ritual humiliation of numerous women and men." The story is about a weightlifting seminar Arnold gave with his buddy and fellow Mr. Olympia, Franco Colombu:

During the seminar, Mr. Columbo [sic], dressed in slacks and a dress shirt, sat hunched over on a bench and performed bent-over, rear-shoulder exercises with dumbbells, while Mr. Schwarzenegger provided commentary. "This is how you develop the delts," he said in his thickly accented English. Then he frowned, a mock frown. "But you can't see them." He pulled big scissors from his back pocket and, while Mr. Columbo continued to perform his exercises, leaned down and cut huge holes in the back of his friend's shirt. The audience roared with laughter.
Poor Franco! Does it even occur to the Times, or TNR, that this was schtick? No, instead Franco was a "threat" to Arnold, according to the Times article (and TNR excerpts the part that uses the word), and Arnold had to humiliate him.

This is simply posturing by a liberal magazine, quoting a liberal paper (whose scribe can't even spell Colombu's name right), in order to find a justification for bringing "character" back into the picture -- after having claimed it a non-issue in the 1990s. And it stinks. The liberal story is that Republicans are hypocrites for making this an issue for Clinton, and that turnabout is fair play. True enough, but a principled TNR would of necessity write that, according to the rules of journalism they endorse, Arnold's groping is a non-story. A nod to GOP hypocrisy would be fine, but the "it's different this time because" line is transparent. TNR wants to get some of the kicks the right-wing press got last time.

Sidebar: I don't think, personally, that it's a non-story. What Arnold did certainly is relevant to the voter who considers character in making his or her decision at the polls. I don't think it's disqualifying, per se, just as I thought Clinton's dalliances weren't. (As far as we know, though, Arnold has not committed felonious acts in an attempt corrupt a federal investigation and influence a trial upheld -- albeit in a poor decision -- by the Supreme Court.)

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