Were any of us truly surprised to hear that Arnold Schwarzenegger had a lovechild? Ok, maybe we were surprised at the specifics of this indiscretion, but the fact of sexual indiscretion in and of itself can’t have come as a big shock. It’s not like he doesn’t have a bit of a… history.
No doubt the revelation will be traumatic for his family. And frankly, it’s difficult not to feel contempt for the disloyalty he has shown to his wife. But let’s also take a moment to acknowledge something; politicians are people. They’re human. And despite the ridiculously high standards they get held to, they are ultimately just another person on the street. Some will have more moral fibre than others, and some might have no moral fibre at all. And yet, despite knowing in our heart of hearts that politicians are as fallible as anyone else, we (and by ‘we’ I mean the electorate as a whole) insist on indulging in the fiction that public officials most likely live their lives differently to the rest of us.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t judge them when they behave in ways we find distasteful or inappropriate or outright disagree with. But we should react with faux outrage and surprise when we hear Politician X went off the rails in one way or another. Punish them at the ballot box (if you get the opportunity), but don’t pretend you had any particular insight into what they’re really like as a person. For most people, the closest they get to knowing politicians is through literature and media interviews. Can we really expect that such exposure provides insight into the true nature of our politicians at a basic human level. Of course not.
So let’s be clear. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a scumbag. And he is as human as anyone else.