Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn deserve disgrace
Disgrace is what this arrogant lot deserve
9:58 AM on 18th May 2011
Hubris has been having a high old time of it this week at the expense of four supremely arrogant men.
Chris Huhne, Jeremy Clarkson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn are all middle-aged, outstandingly successful and extremely rich. But their overweening arrogance has brought them, very publicly, to the brink of ruin.
Is this how it should be Jeremy Clarkson thinks not. The Top Gear presenter is mightily indignant that allegations of adultery with a Top Gear colleague — which he continues to deny — have attracted so much publicity.
Better days: Arnold Schwarzenegger who revealed a secret love child this week and IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn who was charged with rape
But is it really any wonder The four men now caught in the pitiless glare of the media spotlight are not only married, but have often talked publicly about their marriages. Three of them are in politics and therefore have an additional responsibility to be good role models.
Clarkson has never pretended to be anything other than Chief Lad — but he has become wealthy by putting himself in the public eye and lampooning others’ behaviour in his newspaper columns, and so is on thin ground when he complains that the same public eye is now beadily examining his own conduct.
Actor Hugh Grant says it’s in all men’s nature to be ‘naughty’ and that just because a man is rich and famous doesn’t mean he forfeits his right to privacy. I disagree. And despite what he says, there are millions of men who DO go through life without doing anything naughtier than going to a strip club on a stag night.
Some choose to uphold their marriage vows and try to set an example to their children. Others remain faithful because to behave otherwise would expose them to humiliation within their community.
This is a useful check — but once you reach a certain status and wealth, the views of your community become all but irrelevant. Like a feudal overlord, you are so rich and powerful that you are beyond being shamed by the local peasants.
Pressure: Jeremy Clarkson is indignantthat allegations of an affair have attracted so much publicity while Chris Huhne has been troubled by speeding allegations
Such men have forgotten, if indeed they ever had them, any notions they may have had of integrity. They’re surrounded by sycophants who fear the consequences of falling out of favour, and so they never hear the word ‘no’. They break rules with impunity because they don’t fear being caught. Why would anyone believe a little person’s word against theirs
And what of their wives Over the years we’ve seen endless betrayed women who bravely decide to keep the show on the road. They put up and shut up, perhaps for the sake of the children, perhaps because they’re afraid they’ve nowhere else to go.
Now one wife has turned. Huhne’s ex Vicky Pryce has her own identity and her own career and she’s decided she’s not going to stand for such appalling treatment. Instead, she’s decided to publicly shame her husband, and hit him where he will hurt the most: in his career.
More women may now feel tempted to follow her example. Shame is a valuable tool of social justice, and without it we would have amorality and chaos.
This is not to say that no man should ever leave his wife: no one can legislate for falling in love.
But it cannot be right to dispose of a wife in 30 minutes, having previously used her to obtain high office, as Huhne did; or to complain about the effect of your own boorish behaviour on your wife and children, as Clarkson does; or to behave in the reprehensible manner of Schwarzenegger or Strauss-Kahn, treating women as sex objects at your disposal.
The Prime Minister himself has started distancing himself from Huhne, whose once-glittering career is now hanging by a thread. It may be Huhne’s wife who ends up making the final cut — but we should all be clear that his own arrogance was the cause.
As with Clarkson, Strauss-Kahn and Schwarzenegger, the surprise is not that any of these men have been felled by their own hubris, but that it took so long.
Pippa Middleton has revealed the secret of her super-toned figure: weekly Pilates sessions. As a devotee myself — I go three times a week — I can testify to its transformational qualities: a strong core and improved posture. So why doesn’t my bottom look like Pippa’s I demand a refund!
No Cannes do, Jane
Glamorous: Actress Jane Fonda walks the runway at the Fashion For Relief at Forville market during Cannes Film Festival in France
Jane Fonda is a world-famous actress who’s also a mother, a philanthropist, a political activist, a fitness expert and a multi-millionaire. This week she wowed Cannes in a sensational, figure-hugging lace dress that shows her to have, at 73, a figure that women half her age would kill for.
So is she satisfied Er, no. According to an interview in a recent issue of the New Yorker magazine, she wanted to be the perfect wife (she was married three times) but ‘the world kept encroaching’.
The ideal woman, she says, ‘has a child on her hip, and she’s stirring pots and she’s sipping her wine, and she’s funny, and she can turn out a great meal for 40 people without losing her sense of humour and without getting stressed’.
I’m exhausted just reading her definition of ideal, but at least it’s cheering news for the rest of us. If the fearsomely high-achieving Fonda thinks she’s failed to have it all, the rest of us needn’t even bother trying . . .
Mail reader Suzy Monty, 60, wrote to the letters page this week to say that the story suggesting women should stop wearing bikinis after the age of 47 (and minis at 35, long hair at 53 and stilettos at 51) had made her blood pressure shoot up.
‘We don’t need intimidating into chucking out our favourite fashion items — or we might as well go back to wearing crinolines,’ she steamed.
I couldn’t agree more, and refer her to the wonderful Jilly Cooper, who at 74 still has a glorious mane of long hair. Last month, she turned up to the Daily Mail Literary Lunch, where she was guest speaker, looking simply stunning in a skintight leopard-print mini dress.
As poet Wendy Cope says in her brilliant new collection: ‘No point in living if you let/Your terror of the end take hold./Keep saying this, and don’t forget/The party isn’t over yet.’
Treat your teenagers tenderly
Until today, my abiding image of Milly Dowler was of a confident, attractive girl who sang as she did the ironing. The video footage, released when she was still missing, seemed to encapsulate everything that’s wonderful about ordinary family life.
Now, during the trial of the man accused of her murder, we learn thather carefree image was not what it seemed. It was only after she disappeared that her parents found a note in which she seemed to be threatening suicide, together with a heartbreaking poem she’d written inwhich she said she hated herself, and described herself as pathetic, helpless and unattractive.
In addition, she’d made the devastating discovery that her father used porn magazines. But her chief preoccupation seems to have been withthe fact that she somehow wasn’t good enough.
Accused: Levi Bellfield, 42, denies abducting and murdering Milly after she disappeared near her home in Walton-on-Thames station, Surrey, in March 2002
It’s a terrible but timely reminder of how fragile teenagers are and how easy it is to be deceived by appearances. As the mother of a 15-year-old myself, I’ve lost count of the teenage girls who regularly appear in our house. I look at them and see Amazonian beauties who are also intelligent and witty, but I’ve yet to meet one who shares that view of themselves — on the contrary, they all think they’re woefully inadequate.
We spend so much of our time castigating them for being messy or noisy or idle that we forget just how life-enhancing they are — and how nervous and unsure they actually feel.
At the moment a debate is raging over whether to be a Tiger Mother like the aggressive Amy Chua, who made her daughters practise their piano till they wept and considered anything less than an A a fail, or aPizza Parent like economist Dr Bryan Caplan, who says that as parental influence accounts for only 10 per cent of how your child turns out and that the rest is all down to genes, you may as well just relax and have fun.
With exams looming, I’ve been discovering hidden Tiger tendencies of late. But after reading Milly’s sad letter and poem, I’ve decided pizza is definitely the way to go.
Brad in his “man cave”
Man cave: Brad Pitt with his straggly grey beard
If his straggly grey goatee is anything to go by, Brad Pitt has spentrecent weeks hiding out in his ‘man cave’ — the place to which he retreats to watch TV and drink beers with his mates.
However he acquired his beard, it’s hard to believe Angelina would want to stay with a man with such ghastly wisps. But — with rumours thatJolie is keen to adopt yet another child, bringing the couple’s tally to seven — perhaps that’s been his cunning plan all along
Now she tells us…
Millions of women the world over asked their hairdressers for ‘the Rachel’ after Jennifer Aniston first sported her iconic layered bob in Friends.
At one point in the Nineties, a poll showed almost 50 per cent of women had tried it. Aniston herself, however, confides in the latest issue of Easy Living magazine that she loathed the Rachel and thinks it the ugliest haircut ever. NOW she tells us . . .
Self-styled ‘Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas has been asked by David Cameron to come up with a plan to reverse the downturn in Britain’s High Streets. Portas is an expert at telling stores where they’ve gone wrong, but shouldering responsibility for every High Street in Britain may prove to be a shopping challenge too far.
Government tsars may be all the rage but it’s hard to think of a single one who’s succeeded. Indeed, just about the only non-politician who’s had any notable effect is Jamie Oliver with his school dinners campaign — and he did it because he wanted to, not because the Government asked him.
Henry Kissinger, a man who has advised every U.S. president since JFK and met every world leader from Chairman Mao to Vladimir Putin, says he’s ‘an anti-Facebook kinda guy’. This is a relief — and also a salutary reminder that the people who are really worth listening to are not on Twitter or Facebook.