The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that Arnold Schwarzenegger has changed his views on Kurt Waldheim since he toasted him at his 1986 wedding. “[I]f he knew then what he knows now [about Waldheim’s past], he would not have offered the toast,” said spokesman Rob Stutzman. “Arnold has said it was a stupid thing to say.”
It’s a good start, but it falls short in two ways. First, this is not the sort of statement you can fob off on your spokesman. Schwarzenegger himself is going to have to address the matter. Second, as Chatterbox demonstrated in an earlier column, Schwarzenegger’s toast to Waldheim was not a single, isolated incident. After the wedding, Schwarzenegger permitted Waldheim to use his name on campaign posters, protested a year later when Waldheim, then president of Austria, was banned from entering the United States, and was seen in Waldheim’s company as recently as 1998. Schwarzenegger can’t shrug off his 1986 toast as a momentary gaffe. There was a long-standing relationship that continued well past the time when the full extent of Waldheim’s association with Nazi atrocities had been documented. A more complete renunciation will be necessary.