Willie Brown on Schwarzenegger

by Mark Wilson

To call Willie Brown’s comments about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s extra-marital affair “apologetic” would actually be an understatement. The former Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco writes in his Chronicle column:

We all do things we wouldn’t want anyone else to know about. Even for politicians, sometimes these things have nothing to do with whether we can do our jobs.

Schwarzenegger’s conduct toward his former housekeeper and his child had no bearing on whether he could solve California’s budget problems, make a quality appointment to the Supreme Court or carry out any of the thousand other tasks a governor must handle.

[. . .]

Arnold is a human being. And as a human being, he is capable of a wide range of behavior — some of it attractive, some of it not.

Just like you and me.

Let’s talk comparisons, here. There’s extramarital affairs, and then there’e extramarital affairs. The guy had a child with his housekeeper that he kept secret for 13 years! I can even understand extramarital affairs, but children? Really? And it’s not so much the substance of what Schwarzenegger did — the affair and the love-child — it’s the fact that he hid it for 13 years, which must have been no small accomplishment that took no small amount of deception. I expect that what really floored Maria was not “I had an affair with the housekeeper 14 years ago, that’s long since over” as much as it was “I had an affair with the housekeeper 14 years ago that’s long since over, and would you like to meet our secret love-child?”

Someone has either been lying to this kid about who his (or her?) father is, or the kid can really keep a secret. Does anyone care about the child in all of this talk? Because there might be some significant psychiatry bills. Schwarzenegger is fairly deserving of scorn, especially because he thrust himself into the public sphere and set himself up as a role-model. The latter fact he was unquestionably aware of (unlike Charlie Sheen, who is held to, let’s say, a lesser standard).

Sure, Brown takes the familar “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” tack, which is true, to some degree. But that’s an important word: degree. If Brown can’t see the difference between an affair that’s been long-over and an affair that resulted in a kid who’s now 13, then I would question the judgment he might bring to a job that involves “any of the thousand other tasks that a governor must handle.”