Liz Smith: Arnold and Maria — Are We Really That Surprised?

And more from our Liz: the late Steig Larsson spawns a Scandinavian rush for chilly thrillers

“Deceiving others. That is what the world calls romance,” said Oscar Wilde.

* * *

AM I the one person on earth — or at least the one person who reads newspapers, magazine and watches TV — who is not “shocked, shocked!” over the Arnold Schwarzenegger scandal?

It is an unhappy tale to be sure, Arnold fathering a child by a woman who worked for him and his wife Maria Shriver, and keeping it secret from the media and (so we’re asked to believe) his entire family — for 13 years!

Look, we’re not talking Roy Rogers and Dale Evans here. Schwarzenegger was a reputed womanizer before and  during his 25 year marriage to Shriver. And Shriver was a member of the Kennedy clan of relentlessly unfaithful men. She is an intelligent woman. She had already jumped to his defense years ago in the well-documented matter of his movie-set gropings. Having this long-ago affair and very current 13-year-old boy become a public matter has to be humiliating. But I don’t see her in any state of hysteria or even that much genuine surprise. She comes from a line of women who suffer, accept and look away. Also, the party line is that Maria has “known all” since January. I’d say the majority of the tears have flowed, and frozen.

But it is the ravenous media that has Maria “shocked … devastated … destroyed … the family in ruins.” To the latter, several of the children have already taken to Twitter and don’t sound all that broken up. They’ve all said “I love my family.” We assume that includes Arnold. Perhaps they’d feel differently if news had come out about an affair in which Arnold totally abandoned his ex-lover and child or forced the woman into an abortion.

He’s a pig. What’s new? A powerful actor becomes a powerful politician. Odds are, rules of some kind are going to be bent or broken.

* * *

TO BE honest, if I want to get myself into a rage over Arnold, it would be because of the piss poor job he did as governor of California, wrecking the state’s already shattered finances. Now, Jerry Brown is attempting to salvage what Arnie left in his wake. (Having been in the governor’s seat before, at least Brown knows what he’s doing.)

I’m also laughing over the idea, put forward with such glee, that “this the end of Arnold’s movie career!” Uh … the man is well into his sixties. His particular career would be chilly now, love child or not. If he acts again, and those movies don’t do well, believe me, it will have nothing to do with having cheated and lied to his wife. Let me say it again — Arnold was no John Edwards with his choir-boy face and mealy-mouthed hypocrisies. Nor was Maria dying of cancer. And at least, when confronted by the LA Times and TMZ which was close behind, he came clean. He didn’t go running down hallways and ducking into bushes. One can survive such things.

Good grief, Eliot Spitzer is on the air every night on CNN — even having the gall to discuss the Schwarzenegger matter! (An example of how much class Spitzer lacks is that he wouldn’t politely recuse himself from that particular story.)

Oh, one other thing. We’ve been seeing a lot of pixilated and blurred photos of Arnold’s secret son here in the USA. But the British press is not so prissy and kindhearted. They have published a picture of the mother and child, crystal clear.

If indeed the birth and the true father was kept secret all these years, it’s easy to see why. The boy is the spitting image of his mother.

* * *

IF YOU are Scandinavian, and have a propensity to write thrillers or mysteries, you’re in luck — you’re a potential hot property.

The Hollywood Reporter tells us that because of the huge success of the late Steig Larsson’s “Millennium” series of books (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” etc.) and the potential movie success of these works, Scandinavian scribes are in high crime cotton. These include Camilla Lackberg and Liza Marklund (both of whom were at Cannes.) Also Jens Lapidus and Lars Kepler. The latter’s book, “The Hypnotist,” is being adapted for the screen by Lasse Hallstrom.

Everybody in publishing and in the movie biz is looking for “the next Steig Larson.” Good luck, he was a genius —I’ll never forget becoming so caught up in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” pestering everybody I knew to buy it.

If only he’d lived to see phenomenon he created.

* * *

ON MONDAY, at the Waldorf Astoria, the 70th Annual Peabody Awards Happens.  The event will be hosted by the much-missed-on-CNN Larry King. Among the 38 winners for excellence in electronic media are CBS’s “The Good Wife”… HBO’s “Temple Grandin”… CNN’s coverage of the Gulf oil spill … PBS’s “Great Performances: Macbeth” and lots more. The attendees include: Ray Romano, Scott Bakula, Yoko Ono, Anderson Cooper, Spike Lee, Patrick Stewart. The Peabody “do” takes place at high noon. So, all the stars can go home to rest and come out at night, again.

Times have changed but this is still the city that never sleeps.


149 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Bonnie O says:

    Liz –   I am a Californian and I had not heard a word about Arnold’s affairs!  Perhaps I have not been reading the correct in-the-know newspapers.

    Yes, many in California are disappointed by Arnold’s stewardship of the State.  However, once elected the people did not support Arnold.  The Legislature (both Houses) have remained in Democratic hands for decades;  therefore, in order to enact needed financial reform legislation Arnold sponsored Initiatives and Proprositions to be voted upon by the people.  One of the Initiatives regarded pension reform for State employees while another related to educational reform to unblock union control of the public school system.  There was a third Initiative which escapes me at the moment.  All three were placed on the ballot and all three were defeated.  The net result was that Arnold was left with little power.  He still gained re-election but the Legislature remained the same ….. and any reduction in spending was thwarted.

    I supported Meg Whitman’s candidacy for governor but I am pleased (and surprised) by Governor Brown’s initial policies.  As a Democrat he may make more headway with the Legislature (still Democratic).  Brown’s proposed budget was met with fierce opposition by many in the Democratic Party;   the teacher’s union just concluded a week long protest in Sacramento which resulted in Brown submitting a revised budget this week.  The teachers who were selected to participate in the protest were paid by their Union for their salary/expenses while substitue teachers manned the classrooms.

    Most of the Democratic constitutencies are unhappy with Brown.  The counties and cities are unhappy with Brown inasmuch as he has proposed that all redevelopment funds held in reserve by California cities and counties be returned to Sacramento.  Most local governments plan their expansions and/or remodeling upon budgets that include matched redevelopment funds from the State.  All those budgets are now in jeopardy and cities and counties are facing the unhappy task of laying off employees, including policemen and fire fighters.

    Brown is making the hard decisions and is receiving little help and or cooperation from his fellow Democrats in the Legislature.  What Arnold was not able to accomplish …. might very well be accomplish, or at least begun, by Jerry Brown.   Who would have thought it????

    I am a pleasantly surprised Californian Republican.

    Finally, the city within which I reside has increased our city sales tax to pay for the repaving of our city streets.  My small town now has one of the highest sales tax rates in the country … over 9%.  In addition, all fees for licenses have increased.  We have issued bonds to pay for the remodeling of one of our fire houses and to move the City Hall out of their twenty long year temporary quarters into a new facility.  All future projects are on hold and will probably be cancelled if the redevelopment funds are returned to the State Capitol.

    Every city, county and citizen in California is being forced to pay for all the extravagant spending of the Democratic Controlled Legislature for the last 30-40 years.  And still these people remain in office.  Brown might be a one-term Governor but those legislators are entrenched!

  2. avatar rick gould says:

    Isn’t feigned self-righteous, non-stop, regurgitated, deafeningly loud babbling today’s Internet-led “news” version of auto-pilot?

  3. avatar Sandy B says:

    I am not shocked he was a philander- nor necessarily that he had a love child.
    I believe Maria probably isn’t so surprised about the philandering either- and of course a child is always a possible outcome of that.
    Nor is it necessarily shocking to keep it all a secret.

    BUT to have the woman in your home? For THIRTEEN YEARS??? To rub your wife and families face in it? There is no way Maria knew that THIS woman was one of the indescretions and that THIS child was her husbands. She moved out of the house when she found out. Normally I would want the nasty husband to move out but her whole feeling about the house is probably forever tainted. It’s the scene of the crime and the crime that kept on giving for 13 more years. He couldn’t arrange to fool around with someone unconnected to his family? And once done he couldn’t arrange another job for her someplace else?? He embodied being a pig to a whole new level of “ewwww”

    The kids- ALL of them have my sympathy and heartfelt best wishes.
    And of COURSE they only twitter when they are having a relatively strong moment. That doesn’t mean they knew or are not devestated by what has happened.

    • avatar Maizie James says:

      Sandy B.,

      I was not shocked by Arnold’s womanizing. Like you, I felt more aghast that they carried on in the family home. This woman, obviously has not shame. Worse, I can not comprehend how she could continue in a trusted work relationship with Maria while at the same time sleeping with her husband.

      This leads me to wonder about the motive and timing of Arnold’s announcement. Could be that this conniving deceitful woman threatened to expose/blackmail him for monetary reasons.

      I agree with you. Maria left because the house represents the scene of the betrayal.

  4. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Sounds to me like Maria demanded some “public atonement” and destroyed a child’s life in the proces. But, well, she’s a Kennedy.  Says it all.   They were not “Ozzie and Harriet” although no doubt she will try to convince everyone she thought they were.

    Her need for revenge aside, the media went too far in identifying the mother and child. But of course, well, they just ran with the story they wer given, didn’t they? 

    Can’t wait fo the divorce. Maria will most likely claim she gave up a lucrative career to become a housewife and mother.  And probalby replace Caroline as the richest Kennedy when she leaves the courtroom with her settlement.

    • avatar sandra b says:

      Snooks – you are indeed a baby. Your ridiculous post puts all the blame on Maria. She had nothing to do with ruining “a child’s life” and I would bet the kid has known who his father is for some time. The trash housekeeper and the whoremonger governor didn’t have a one night stand. They had a relationship – he bought her a house. He probably paid off her ex-husband too. Arnie is a public figure so whenever this leaked out there was going to have to be some public atonement for damage control. Yeah she’s a Kennedy and that says it all -it says the Kennedy men are narcissitic egomaniacs who have to keep proving to themselves how great they are and the Kennedy women get to take their s%$t to keep their dignity and kids from falling apart. How small minded to blame the wronged, cheated on wife for the behavior of the adulterers. Those two selfish pigs ruined that kid’s life when they conceived him. And by the way – she did give up a lucrative career to prevent a conflict of interest while he ran for governor. And by the way – California is a community property state. She’ll get what she’s entitled to and I hope she gets sole custody of the minor kids. His behavior proves he didn’t care about anything but himself and neither did the maid – she was in it for herself too and having his kid clinched it for her for life.

      • avatar Sandy B says:

        Ditto Sandra. And nice name by the way!

        • avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

          My sentiments exactly ladies! I might also add that some of us living out here in “ordinary land” have seen friends deal with similar betrayals. These strong, intelligent wives, moms were shocked and stunned when their lives imploded. The constant harangue of “she should have known” is so demeaning in an already devastating situation! Marriages are supposed to be built on trust and it is never a woman’s (or perhaps a man’s) first thought that they are being cheated on. I would guess that it is the same in “famous or infamous or public land”. Sadly, I am sure these kinds of betrayals will continue as long as these kinds of selfish, egotistical pigs believe they are entitled to what they want, when they want it and damned the damage they cause.

        • avatar sandra b says:

          Back atcha sister!

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Sorry but if Maria Shriver had wanted to take the high road she could have. First she says she wants her privacy respected. And then starts issuing public statements and getting her children involved. Please.  She chose the low road. 

        What I should have said is she will most likely claim she was just a poor working girl who gave up a lucrative career. Poor thing.  From day one she’s never had to work a day in her life.

        So where was she when the husband was carrying on with the help? 

        • avatar Sandy B says:

          She is a public figure and this has been a very publicly exposed situation. She made one statement. She is entitled to make as may as she wants. So what if she never had to work? That makes this her fault? She chose to work. She chose to give up her career. She chose a productive life, and it wouldn’t matter if she hadn’t. This was not her fault.

          You sound really jealous and bitter about the advantages she had in her life. Being privileged doesn’t make you heartless or immune to pain- or somehow deserving of being betrayed by your husband IN YOUR OWN HOME. I don’t understand where you are coming from at all.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Either Maria Shriver was totally stupid or just didn’t care. Take your pick. She would have been wiser to follow her grandmother’s example and just ignored it. And Gloria Swanson wasn’t the only one Rose Kennedy chose to ignore. And don’t think Jacqueline Kennedy didn’t know. And simply chose to ignore it as well. May sound offensive to some women but other women just accept the reality that some men will cheat.  In reality most men cheat.  And of course they cheat with someone. None of whom are victims. The men or their mistresses. Of course most men aren’t carrying on with the household staff. Which makes you wonder about the wife. And whether the wife is totally stupid.  Or just doesn’t care. Again, take you pick.

          • avatar Sandy B says:

            If those are the only two possibilities you can see- that’s pretty limited of you. But if she’s “stupid” or “doesn’t care”-that one is so improbable as to be laughable, it’s still not her fault. I’ve never yet met a woman that “didn’t care” her husband was cheating. And while some I’ve known shouldn’t have been so surprised, I would never have classified them as “stupid” or blamed them in any way.

          • avatar TheTexasMom says:

            She would have been wiser to follow her grandmother’s example and just ignored it.
            Seriously?  Wow – you have such a low opinion of people in general how do you stand us?

          • avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

            Three Cheers for Texas Mom. Baby Snooks is nearly always shows her low opinion of people in general. Indeed how does she stand us all?? Of course it is a two way street, most of us can’t stand her!!

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Actually I hold a high opinion of  Rose Kennedy – what would she have gained by worsening an already public scandal with Gloria Swanson by even throwing her husband out of the house let alone divorcing him?  She took the high road. Maybe she wasn’t liberated in the modern sense but she still made a decision that to many was admirable.  And kept her family intact.

          • avatar Sandy B says:

            She made the best choice for her. That doesn’t make it the right choice for every person and every situation. Just because it was best for her in no way makes it a standard of any kind. It would have equally been the “high road” if she’d kicked him to the curb. And I’m guessing she DID care and she WASN’T stupid.

          • avatar TheTexasMom says:

            I cannot admire Rose Kennedy simply because I believe she enabled the affairs of Joseph and in turn their sons simply by turning a blind eye.  And don’t think for a moment the off springs did not find that enabling trait in a mate when they chose to marry. If you grow up in a household where womanizing is the norm, that is what you carry forward in your own life.  As a parent I believe you set the bar by example on how you live your life.  It’s not do as I say, it’s you’re going to do as you see me do (most times anyway).   

    • avatar joanne in jax says:

      I agree with everything sandra b has said. I am so sick and tired of reading Baby’s ‘authoritative’ opinions on EVERYTHNG published on this site! She apparently is the ultimate insider on everything from Marilyn, politics, LA, NY society, Texas, ad nauseum. You name it, she’s got the inside information. I think not. And this latest attack on Maria, just burns my ass.

      She is Maria SHRIVER, and her family has distinguished themselves apart from the Kennedy clan, and continue to do so. To suggest that she was complicit in this deception for monetary gain is ludicrous. Just like most of Baby’s inane comments.

      Maria will handle this disaster with the same dignity that she showed the world in dealing with her dear father’s ‘slow goodbye’. I, for one, would like to say a ‘hasty goodbye’ to the BS spewed by the Baby.

      • avatar joanne in jax says:

        I’m sorry, sandra b, I combined you with Sandy B! Both great minds.

        • avatar sandra b says:

          Actually Joanne, I was the one who said Baby’s post was ridiculous in claiming that Maria ruined the kid’s life. Like Maria outed the affair?! And even if she was going to but Arnie did the pre-emptive strike, the kid has a right not to live a lie and so does she and her kids; yes the truth can hurt, but it was Arnie and the maid that created that truth. We will probably never know what Maria knew, didn’t know, or suspected. She has had enough and decided the marriage isn’t salvageable.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        So don’t read my comments.

  5. avatar Jeff Michaels says:

    It is revealing that no one is questioning the actions of the housekeeper. She was well aware the Governor was married, just as Rielle Hunter was in the John Edwards situation and Rachel Uchitel was in the Tiger Woods case. But all three women pursued the husband of someone else in hopes of a big pay day. It is about time we start holding women accountable for THEIR actions.

    • avatar Sandy B says:

      Actually Jeff, I think many are holding off because there isn’t enough info. Any time a person is in a more powerful position is involved it’s hard to say if they were exploited (not that it would excuse it- but I would weight it differently). For example, many think Bill Clinton used his position to “seduce” Monika Lewinsky. While certainly not detracting from any wrong he did, SHE was certainly no victim in my opinion. And I do suspect this woman isn’t either- but I haven’t heard enough to say much about it.

      If she pursued him- I’ve got nothing good to say about the tramp at all. And if he coerced her in some way- I still think she could have gotten away years ago. So it is only a matter of degree, the distain I hold for this woman.

      With regards to Arnold’s family- HE is the one who broke vows, though given her position of trust in the household she certainly betrayed Maria.

      • avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

        Sandy B,
        You are in my brain this morning! Exactly, can’t say much about the housekeeper until more is known. But she didn’t have to stay there all those years, did she? Putting herself in front of Maria all the time? Sounds pretty nasty to me but we shall see.

  6. avatar Bella Mia says:

    Why do the Kennedy women put up with this? I would like someone to answer that sincerely, because I don’t get it. Are the daughters’ then expected to “put up with it?” Where does this cycle of cruelty and betrayal end?

    Why do some dynasties avoid these fidelity issues? The Bush family doesn’t have this same legacy and I would like to know why – specifically? What’s everyone’s best guess?

    There is no doubt about it: the cuckold wife always looks foolish and humiliated. Ironically, it is the rich who can best absorb the financial consequences of divorce so it doesn’t seem to have the same catastrophic consequences as for poorer families, and poor and middle class women.

    • avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

      Ok, Mia Bella, Here’s my take with a tiny disclaimer. My late mother (along with lots of other young women) went to a neighboring boarding school in Boston and socialized with the older generation of Kennedy women including Eunice. Maria’s parents were married until their deaths and by all accounts were wonderful together. No young woman goes into a marriage thinking she will be cheated on; no matter her family history, public or private. Is that naive? Perhaps but it is also love and hope and dreams and faith. Not necessarily religious faith just faith in the person you love. Of course, people are entitled to his or her opinion on what someone should believe or not believe regarding past family history. I think Maria was and is brave to have followed her heart then and now. I wish her well and I believe she will bring her children through this storm with grace and dignity and forge whatever future she wants. And yes, I know that being wealthy makes the path far easier but it doesn’t change the fact that betrayal is painful and humiliating no matter what your “name” is.

      • avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

        PS. Mia,
        Are you really so sure about the family you mention?? Have you done your research? Rumors have been around New England about men from that family for generations. Don’t know for sure, don’t care. It is easy to condemn the Kennedy family and then hold another up as paragons.

        • avatar Karen Ferguson says:

          Actually, reports about this family have been fairly specific –though muted, which brings up a legitimate question about why the press protects some public figures but not others. When Jennifer Fitzgerald’s name was first brought up during George H. W. Bush’s presidential run, Hilary Clinton once mentioned on morning television that she didn’t understand why there was a media storm about Genifer Flowers but not “the other Jennifer.” R.W. Apple of the New York Times said that her name was known everywhere but used nowhere. The McLaughlin Group also discussed the paucity of reporting about her. The truth or falseness of the rumors was probably a valid public issue, though, given the allegations that, having followed Bush from China to the CIA to the Vice Presidency she reportedly had a high salary and that James Baker and the future chairman of the Republican National Committee both clashed with her, because of her influence on Bush, to the point of supposedly threatening their resignations.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Why the media blackout on the Bushes?  Two words. Barbara Bush. Following the rumored fender-bender near the Capitol one night when George, just vice-president then, rear-ended someone after getting “overly-excited” while driving, “overly-excited” by a “companion,”  and someone had to go down to the police station and “take care of it” and made the mistake of going back to dinner with Nancy Reagan and telling her about it who of course rushed back to the The White House and hit “speed-dial” someone with the Washington Post called the Bush home to inquire about the acident. As was told in no uncertain terms that there had been no accident and George had been at home the night before.  And was probably upstairs at that point recovering from having been hit upside the head with a cast iron skillet.

            The media in Washington learned quickly that the real Iron Lady was not Margaret Thatcher but Barbara Bush. 

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      We don’t know that Bush family doesn’t have all sorts of little infidelities here and there. Maybe they’re just better at keeping it out of the public domain. We do know that Sharon Bush went public when Nei