The Duping of Arnold Schwarzenegger . . . and an Awakening for RFK, Jr.?

Providentially perhaps, last week I happened to watch the Netflix three-part series on Arnold Schwarzenegger as I was reading the eye-opening book by Mary Nicholas and Paul Kengor, The Devil and Bella Dodd: One Woman’s Struggle Against Communism and Her Redemption. The latter provides a useful framework for understanding the former. 

To be sure, Schwarzenegger is no communist. Like the early Bella Dodd, however, he has been a dupe of what is arguably a communist conspiracy. More alarming still, the man who recruited him to that conspiracy is now running for president: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. The question remains whether Kennedy, like Dodd, has seen the light. 

Schwarzenegger has always meant well. I believe he still does. The first two parts of “Arnold” show him at his ingenuous, flag-waving best. Through sheer self-actualization, he gleefully conquers the sport of bodybuilding and the madness of  Hollywood. In 1990, he described the political philosophy that guided his quest in the introduction to a PBS series hosted by Milton Friedman. 

“Being ‘free to choose’ for me,” said Schwarznegger, “means being free to make your own decisions, free to live your own life, pursue your own goals, chase your own rainbow without the government breathing down on your neck or standing on your shoes.” 

When Arnold ran for governor of California in 2003, he ran as a Republican and hoped to govern as one. Making an end run around the Democratic-controlled legislature, Schwarzenegger sponsored four ballot initiatives designed to rein in the power of public service unions, then and now crippling the state. 

In 2005, while these referenda were being contested, I was in the Golden State doing research for my book, What’s the Matter with California?. I sensed trouble for Arnold. It was hard not to see it. Every other TV ad savagely attacked him, allegedly for trying to silence union voices. The unions would go on to spend $160 million in their successful effort to defeat all four initiatives. 

Both as a bodybuilder and as an actor, Schwarzenegger took defeat hard. Haunted as a youth by the image of postwar Austria’s “broken men,” as an adult he could not abide such humiliation. In bodybuilding, Schwarzenegger simply worked harder. In movie-making, he chose his projects more wisely. 

Politics was different. For him to succeed in a state controlled by Democrats, he realized, he would have to play by their rules. Accordingly, he made what biographer Joe Mathews calls “one of the fastest 180s you’ll ever see.” 

“Arnold” director Lesley Chilcott applauds the turn as an embrace of centrism, but it was no such thing. “We were kind of both in the middle,” says Schwarzenegger of himself and his then new chief of staff, Democrat Susan Kennedy (no relation to his famous in-laws). No, Kennedy, an abortion advocate and lesbian activist, was just yanking her boss hard left. 

Daniel Zingale, another leftist advisor interviewed for “Arnold,” says of the Kennedy appointment,“I think that was the beginning of him growing into the job and recognizing he didn’t want to be some tool of conventional Republicans.” No, going forward, he would instead be the tool of orthodox leftists. 

His recruits included the self-described “flame-throwing environmentalist” Terry Tamminem. When asked in “Arnold” why he consented to work for a Republican governor, Tamminem smirks, “We want a Republican to be saying the things we’re saying.” 

Schwarzenegger describes how Tamminem came to serve in his cabinet: “I remember that Bobby Kennedy Jr. calls me and says, ‘I want to help you.’ He says, ‘I’m going to give you someone that is the number one environmental expert.’” RFK, Jr., of course, is the first cousin of Schwarzenegger’s then-wife, Maria Shriver. 

Deeply troubled as a young man, Robert Kennedy, Jr. got into the environmental movement as a form of community service after a heroin bust. During Schwarzenegger’s tenure as governor and for at least some years afterwards, Kennedy put his increasing radicalism on full display. 

In September 2014, for instance, Kennedy marched along with his comrades through the streets of Manhattan in their perverse protest against climate change. When interviewed, he described those who say “global warming doesn’t exist” as “contemptible human beings” and wished out loud that “there were a law they could be punished under.” 

In a 1961 speech, a reformed Bella Dodd distinguished between the Communist Party and small “c” communism. She described the “communist conspiracy” in terms that sound entirely too familiar today. “It consists of a group of people who cooperate with each in moving toward a world government, moving toward statism, moving toward a totalitarian system, moving toward a complete monopoly of industry.” They are determined, she added, “to control the natural resources of the world,” including “land.” 

A century ago, Comintern agents sponsored hundreds of “innocent clubs” designed for wide-eyed young progressives like Bella Dodd, “useful idiots” in Comintern parlance. Once ensnared and “reeducated,” Dodd ended up conspiring against her nation as a dedicated card-carrying Communist. 

Today, the environmental movement functions as a front for the communist conspiracy in much the way anti-fascism did for communists before World War II. For years, would-be despot Robert Kennedy, Jr. was an apparatchik in this ongoing conspiracy. Schwarzenegger was and remains a useful idiot. 

In “Arnold,” he aptly compares himself as governor to the Candide-like character “Julius” in his movie, “Twins”—“an innocent guy with a mind like a sponge.” Absorbing the advice of his leftists advisers, Schwarzenegger once again found himself basking in the warmth of media acclaim and celebrity approval. Chilcott, in fact, presents his second term as something of a triumph. Susan Kennedy describes Schwarzenegger as “a statesman with global stature,” adding, “the world needs him.” 

The viewer sees the former governor expanding his global portfolio from climate alarmism to Ukrainian boosterism to COVID alarmism. Chilcott shows approvingly a public service announcement in which Schwarzenegger tells his imagined audience, “All right, I just got my vaccine and I would recommend it to everyone. Come with me if you want to live.” 

Left out of “Arnold” is a harsher message Schwarznegger delivered on a CNN panel 18 months after COVID’s onset. “There is a virus here—it kills people,” said Schwarzenegger, “and the only way we prevent it is get vaccinated, get masks, do social distancing, washing your hands all the time, and not just to think about ‘Well, my freedom is being kind of disturbed here.’ No, screw your freedom.” Schwarzenegger’s conversion was complete. 

In “Arnold,” having proved his ignorance on several different issues, the clueless Schwarznegger goes on to warn his viewers, “There are things going on in the world that are being kept from you.” As a one-time fan, to see him being manipulated like this is painful. 

Among the manipulators is Chilcott, the director of Al Gore’s nearly fact-free global warming jeremiad, “An Inconvenient Truth. In her darkest turn, Chilcott cuts from images of Schwarzenegger visiting Auschwitz to scenes of “the insurrection” on January 6. The connection, Schwarzenegger tells the viewer, is that both horrors resulted from “people being lied to.” 

Bella Dodd found her redemption in the Catholic faith of her youth. Schwarzenegger still puts his faith in science, unaware perhaps that “science” has betrayed him. 

Robert Kennedy, Jr. is smarter than that. Red-pilled by COVID, he may have come to understand that in its oppressiveness, its censoriousness, and its global ambitions the climate change establishment is as corrupt—and communistic—as that of the COVID regime. 

The environmental message coming from Kennedy’s official campaign website— “Clean It Up”—hints at an awakening. The site makes not a single mention of “climate change,” “global warming,” or even the word “climate.” Like Dodd, Kennedy has a faith to fall back on. Let’s see if he finds it.

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About Jack Cashill

Jack Cashill has a Ph.D. in American studies from Purdue University. He has written Barack Obama's Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply. His latest book Untenable: The True Story of White Ethnic Flight from America’s Cities is now available for pre-order in all formats. See more about him at www.Cashill.com.

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