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Dirty Tricks

Gray Davis and the L.A. Times go into overdrive to sink the Schwarzenegger campaign.

11:30 AM, Oct 6, 2003 • By BILL WHALEN
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THE NEWS out of New England is vandals have defaced Robert Frost's farmhouse in Derry, New Hampshire, spray-painting the south side of the poet's house--a national landmark--with swastikas and the slogans "Arnold is a racist" and "Arnold is a Nazi." That makes it official: recall has taken the road more traveled--by partisan nimrods.

There are thing two things you should know about the controversies involving Arnold Schwarzenegger and his alleged groping of women and his supposed "admiration" of Adolph Hitler--well, three if you include the fact that Arnold apparently is guilty of some remarkably boorish behavior.

The past few days have brought out the worst and stupidest in California Democrats--and those who enable them. Governor Gray Davis, sounding more desperate by the day, has accused Arnold of sexual battery. "`Some of these events are clearly a crime," he said Saturday in Oakland at a town hall meeting with women. "Electing a governor who might have committed a crime is obviously going to distract the state from the important work it has to do."

Memo to the governor: Call Susan Estrich, a fellow Democrat and USC law professor (and, by the way, a rape victim). Here's what she wrote in Friday's Los Angeles Times regarding Schwarzenegger: "As a professor of sex discrimination law for two decades and an expert on sexual harassment, I certainly don't condone the unwanted touching of women that was apparently involved here. But these acts do not appear to constitute any crime, such as rape or sodomy or even assault or battery. As for civil law, sexual harassment requires more than a single case of unwelcome touching; there must be either a threat or promise of sex in exchange for a job benefit or demotion, or the hostile environment must be severe and pervasive."

Meanwhile, Jewish Democratic lawmakers have suggested that Arnold's a de facto anti-Semite: "If this was a man that found Adolf Hitler to be a glorified and acceptable and a desirable character, I sure want to know it as a Californian," U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein said on Friday's "Today" show.

Memo to the senator: In addition to reading the full transcript of Arnold's comments of three decades ago (something no California newspaper, politician, or party hack did before spreading the pro-Hitler statement--they all assumed ABC News and the New York Times got it right), there's an Associated Press story worth reading. In it, fitness trainer Kurt Marnul, who knew the candidate when he was an unknown bodybuilder, claims that Schwarzenegger took part at least twice in organized disruptions of neo-Nazi gatherings in Arnold's hometown of Graz during the 1960s. "It's absurd. It's 100 percent wrong that he could have ever liked Hitler," Marnul told AP. "He was so outraged--so filled with rage against the Nazi regime."

As for the outraged women's groups across California who now have Arnold in their sights, it should be noted that they took a pass on Bill Clinton's behavior. At a Friday "Arnold Is a Rapist" press conference in Los Angeles, Codepink for World Peace activist Patricia Foulkrod suggested that Arnold's worst transgression isn't that he's a groper--it's his party affiliation. "The difference is that Clinton was so brilliant," said Foulkrod. "If Arnold was a brilliant pol and had this thing about inappropriate behavior, we'd figure a way of getting around it. I think it's to our detriment to go on too much about the groping. But it's our way in. This is really about the GOP trying to take California in 2004 and our trying to stop it."

THE OTHER SAD REALITY in California exposed by the last few days' shenanigans: let's call it the Kent Brockman (among Brockman's better moments: "A fist-fight is in progress in downtown Springfield. Early reports indicate, and this is very preliminary, that one of the fighters is a giant lizard. Do we have a source on this? ... Uh huh. A bunch of drunken frat boys . . . All right, I could use some names. I. P. Freeley . . .").

In recall, Arnold's "I admire Hitler" quote was the media's Kent Brockman moment--they ran with the "news" before they looked at the facts. Here's how the Times quoted Arnold in its Friday national edition:

"I admire [Hitler] for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it."

The actual transcript, which comes from "Pumping Iron" out-takes (which the Times chose to run the following day) reads: