Schwarzenegger “Lies” Redux

Bill Kelly e-mails and blogs about another supposed “lie” in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speech last night, this one courtesy Daily Kos.

Said Arnold:

I finally arrived here in 1968. What a special day it was. I remember I arrived here with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of determination, full of desire.

The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the Nixon-Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend of mine who spoke German and English translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which I had just left.

But then I heard Nixon speak. Then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military.

Says kos:

The facts? There was no presidential debate in that election. Nixon never debated Humphrey.

But it sure is a touching story, regardless of its truth.

I can find no references to the 1968 debates in either the quoted text above or the entire speech transcript. Schwarzenegger was talking about the race, during which, almost certainly, Humphrey espoused positions that were far closer to European socialism than did Nixon.

Update (1934): The SacBee story cited by kos and Atrios gets the facts wrong, too.

Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t old enough to drink liquor or vote. But he already knew what he wanted to do and what it would take to become the world’s best-known bodybuilder, a wealthy businessman and one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. “Any man can get whatever he desires in life provided he’s willing to pay whatever price it takes,” fellow bodybuilder and journalist Rick Wayne recalled the ambitious 19-year-old telling him in 1966.

Actually, in Austria, one can legally drink at age 16 and vote as early as age 16, too–although apparently not until 18 for parliamentary elections. If I remember my math classes correctly, 16 and 18 come before 19. I know major news organizations subscribe to LexisNexis. Perhaps they should give their reporters rudimentary training in Google, too.

It is true that there were no Nixon-Humphrey debates in 1968, which seems odd now. Indeed, debates between presidential nominees were quite rare until recently:

The first presidential debate in the general election campaign featured Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy (note that Kennedy practiced for this one in a Democratic primary debate against Hubert Humphrey in West Virginia). Nixon and Kennedy debated four times and Kennedy won a very close election. Some scholars believe that those who heard Nixon on the radio thought he did better than those who saw him on television, but this idea has been questioned recently.

No general debates were held in 1964, 1968, or 1972 (there were Democratic primary debates in 1968 and 1972). General campaign debates were revived again in 1976 and every campaign since 1976 has included at least one debate between the Republican and Democratic nominees for president.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tiger says:

    What, you suspect Kos of slantin’ the truth so as to support his anti-Bush position? Who woulda thunk it?

  2. Arnold = Hitler says:

    Did anyone mention that the Nazinator had a a Nazi dad? Hmmm, answer this Repugs, know any other nazis with German accents?

    I will, as he is clearly a Nazi like all Repugs.

  3. Meezer says:

    American education at work. It would sure make discourse with the Left easier if they had any idea what a Nazi is. My grandmother (American born but spent WWII trapped in Germany) would wash out Arnold=Hitler’s mouth with soap.

  4. Bithead says:

    Say rather, GOVERNMENT education at work.
    All Arnie ever said was he heard each of the candidates speak.

    Now, if Kos can prove that they never spoke during that election…

  5. carpeicthus says:

    Arnold = Hitler, please find another bridge to crawl under. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to meet Meezer’s grandmother

    Bithead, take note: this is what flouting Godwin’s Law looks like to the other side. It isn’t pretty, and it sure isn’t smart.

  6. Patrick says:

    Thanks, bithead, for confirming that I wasn’t seeing things. Arnold’s quote talks about the race and seeing the candidates speak, not in serial fashion, and Kos jumps the shark. Pinhead.

  7. Ugh says:

    Atrios has links to other times when he does refer to “debates” (including in his autobiography). But really, not such a big deal.

  8. David R. Block says:

    Arnold = Hitler is clearly a Nazi as are all Demon rats. (At least many of them act possessed.)

    See, two can play that game. And “Repugs” is the sure sign of a troll.

  9. Chad says:

    That is very true James. If you recall your history, it was the debate between JFK and Nixon on television, the first one ever, that pulled JFK far ahead of Nixon. I studied this single debate and issue of the use of media in election years extensively while in college. The televised debate between the two was seen as the decisive factor.

    What Schwarzenegger was most likely referring to was the idea of the two candidates facing off for an election. The media before the advent of television into a debate cycle covered opposing statements of each candidate. It is extrememly plausible that the news of the day had a comment by Humphry claiming one thing followed directly by Nixon claiming another.

    Just like today, the media follows both candidates and also showed a slight bias towards the more “media-friendly” candidate. It’s funny how the media never changes regardless of how many people attack it.

  10. Maybe Kos thinks bolding his keen observation makes it extra special true, or perhaps just true when it otherwise isn’t. Maybe he’ll start posting in all caps just to let us all know how much he really, really means it next time.

  11. It is also worth noting that while Kos “corrects” himself, he only does so by noting that he was wrong at the bottom of the post, leaving the mistake up and still bolded in the main post. Oh, and he maintains he’s right anyway because Arnold said it somewhere else. Kos has two links, one of which contains no quotation marks that would indicate Arnold actually said it, and the other that does. Presumably the first reference (Sacramento Bee) was cribbed from the second (indirect reference to the LA Times). Even so, this is very thin gruel and doesn’t change the point Arnold was trying to make.

  12. Like Harry Nillsson said in The Point, people hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see.

    Kos wanted to find something to attack so he jumped on what he perceived as a flaw.

  13. Attila Girl says:

    I would also think that the word “debate” could be used informally to designate this media back-and-forth–the statements as they were being reported at the time.