Arnold Schwarzenegger on Denial, the Shrivers, and Having It All

I told him that when I asked Maria if she believed the Freudian cliché about every woman wanting to marry her father, she'd said "Well, I think Arnold is more like my mom."

I think I've heard that a few times, you know, that Maria married her mother and that could very well be because I as a matter of fact I think that when Maria met me there is no way she could have looked at me and said, you know, you remind me of my dad. I think what made her fall in love with me was because I was the rebel, you know, I was the opposite of establishment you know. Bodybuilding was a sport that was not accepted socially -- it was was not the same as being a golf player or a tennis player or a football player. Those were the sports that were socially accepted; mine was not. I had to basically build the sport from scratch before people started accepting it...

I was definitely no symbol of anything that Sarge represented and I think that Maria fell in love with me because I was the opposite. I didn't go to work with a suit and tie I did not have studied the law, get a law degree like her brothers and father, someone that did not sit in an office all day long, trying to work his way up in the traditional sense and I would not go to the cocktail party and drink port, all those kinds of things, that was not me.

Maria... went for me so she could be a rebel on her own so that she kind of could defy, she did not want to fall into the same trap and the Washington scene or make you go down the same road where you kind of constrict your future, where you are going to be married to a guy at the country club and he's a lawyer and then you go to the cocktail parties for 35 years and have 3 kids and drive around with the trunk and the dog and the cats, you know, you can pretty much see what lifestyles people live and she wanted to do something totally different. She wanted to get away from all that. But this is all subconscious. I don't think she knew all that when she was 21. But I think that was the reason why she was excited about coming out here to Hollywood and starting a whole new life.

He talked about how both he and Maria have extraordinary powers of denial.

Maria lives in denial like I do -- that no problems exist, they don't exist. Maria always says "no, no, everything's fine, everything's fine, fine, fine." Maria says to me, "You must be tired." "Tired? Doesn't exist here. I'm not tired." Meanwhile I'm in the middle of falling asleep, but I'm not tired. So its like, denial, you know? It's like when I had my heart surgery, I didn't think about it before, nor did I ever think about it after. It didn't exist, it was like I was getting a tooth pulled or something like that. So she's like that, I'm like that, so we grind it out, same view of reality and so there are a lot of characteristics like that that we have in common

I asked him what he thought of the relationship between Sarge and Eunice Shriver.

Well, you know, it's so different than my parents. My parents were very affectionate with one another and I think that Sarge is very affectionate, I think, and she is not. I think Eunice does not feel comfortable with anything in public. I don't know what goes on, maybe they're having an orgy right now. I have no idea what goes on behind the walls. One thing I know for sure is they don't have the holding hands when they walk or holding each other. Every time he wants to kiss her she says, "C'mon, Sarge." There is a funny cute way of getting out of things. So it's a different thing but they have a tremendous bonding there and they have a tremendous amount of respect for one another and I think, in their own way, a huge amount of love for one another. But its just different the way its expressed.

I observed that Sarge and Eunice complemented each other very well.

Absolutely. Totally. One cannot argue it at all because it was perfectly set up. If she would have someone as a husband like I am, we would be fighting like cats and dogs -- either that or I'd be tying her up in the bedroom!

At his wedding to Maria Shriver in 1986, Schwarzenegger gave an effusive toast to his Austrian countryman Kurt Waldheim. Waldheim had recently become the subject of international controversy when, while running for the Austrian presidency that year, it was discovered that he had covered up details of his activities during World War II, when he had served in the SA, the Nazi paramilitary organization, and he had -- according to an international commission of historians later tasked with investigating these matters -- been aware of war crimes though there was no evidence he had directly participated in them. (Waldheim had been stationed five miles from Salonika, Greece, when one-third of the Jewish population there was deported to Auschwitz.) I asked Schwarzenegger if his father-in-law, who was reportedly made uncomfortable by the toast, had ever spoken to him about this.

Sarge never told me that he was uncomfortable. I think that what happened is that literally days before that a claim came out that Waldheim was tied to the Nazi party and he was part of the SS but there was no evidence of it at all. As a matter of fact most people dismissed it so when we got this gift from Austria, a wedding gift, which was presented to us by this young Austrian conservative politician who had flown over for the wedding and presented us with this gift and it said that it had come from Kurt Waldheim.

So Kurt Waldheim, I never got a note, or really didn't even see that it was in fact from Kurt Waldheim but that's what they said, and the note said from the "young majority," something like that. So in the toast I said I wanted to thank Kurt Waldheim for that gift, that he sent that and all those kinds of things and that he was a terrific guy and a good candidate to be president. This was two weeks before the election* and all this stuff you know so that's what I said and it was at that point where the whole thing started crystallizing later on you know all the claims got bigger and bigger and bigger the whole thing got really out of control I think that's really what happened.

As a matter of fact when I had a later on conversation with [the Nazi hunter] Simon Wiesenthal, he told me personally, said, "I just wanted you to know that Waldheim didn't do any of those things." He said, "Look, he was not in a position to do any of those things. What Waldheim's problem was, was that he was a fucking liar. He never should have lied in his book that he would ignore the fact that he was down there, that he was in a certain position, that he was a Nazi, and that he was doing a certain job. I mean he should have never cut that out or ignored it. He lied about it, said it was not true. He said, he's a fucking liar, not a criminal." I'm a big supporter of Simon Wiesenthal it was very interesting to talk to him about Waldheim and that kind of thing.

* The wedding was in fact about two months before the election.

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Scott Stossel is the editor of The Atlantic magazine and the author of the New York Times bestseller My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind and the award-winning Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent ShriverMore

Scott StosselScott Stossel has been associated with the magazine since 1992 when, shortly after graduating from Harvard, he joined the staff and helped to launch The Atlantic Online. In 1996, he moved to The American Prospect where, over the course of seven years, he served as associate editor, executive editor, and culture editor. He rejoined the Atlantic staff in 2002.

His articles have appeared in a wide array of publications, including The New Yorker, The New Republic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. His 2004 book, Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver, inspired The Boston Globe to write, "Scott Stossel's superb new biography is an extraordinary achievement," while Publisher's Weekly declared, "This is a superbly researched, immensely readable political biography." His most recent book, My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind, became a top-ten New York Times bestseller in its first week of publication.

Within the Atlantic offices, Scott will be forever remembered as the managing editor who oversaw the magazine's 2005 move to Washington from Boston, where it had been based since its founding in 1857. Under Scott's supervision, the magazine shifted all of its operations from Boston's North End to the Watergate building, all the while producing issues that were later nominated for National Magazine Awards.

Along with writing and editing, Scott has taught courses in the American Studies Department at Trinity College. He lives with his family in Washington, D.C.

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