What Californians Have Done in Electing Arnie

arnie's girlsArnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor-elect of California, has admitted to at least one and possibly more instances of inappropriately groping female colleagues. As wary as I am of “sexual harassment” laws, particularly those that curtail free speech, the alleged Schwarzenegger incidents reported in the Los Angeles Times do not involve making a woman feel uncomfortable by talking “inappropriately.” They involve assault.

Bill Clinton, Arnold’s conservative apologists say, lowered the standard for private conduct among public officials. His immoral willingness to be fellated by a White House intern set a new precedent, they contend. By allowing the philanderer to stay in office, the then Democratically-controlled Senate sent a message to the American electorate: We were made to understand that men in power can get away with stuff that regular people can’t. So, come on, Arnold’s supporter’s clamor, give our guy a break! He didn’t even take his penis out of his pants.

Lost in all the talk of bad behavior is the grave (and to my mind troubling) distinction between having an extramarital affair and committing sexual assault. One is an act of selfishness; the other is an act of violence.

Californians have elected an easily parodied action toy. That’s embarrassing.

They’ve also elected an admitted sexual assaulter. That’s a crime.

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