IN WASHINGTON POST LETTERS TODAY, PAUL S. FORBES of Fairfax, Virginia compellingly argues that Arnold Schwarzenegger painted a false picture of his youth in Austria. I happen to like Arnold, mostly — but why the lies about this?
The letter reads:
Washington Post
Fuzzy Facts, the Cost of War and Chasing al Qaeda
Thursday, September 9, 2004; Page A26
In his speech to the Republican National Convention, Arnold Schwarzenegger said of his boyhood in Austria, “I saw tanks in the streets. I saw communism with my own eyes.”
I was an American military policeman stationed in Linz, Austria, in 1947, the year of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s birth, when the country was occupied by the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union. Mr. Schwarzenegger was born in Styria, which was in the British zone.
That year I witnessed free and fair national elections in Austria, which ushered in a moderate democratic government. The Communist Party in Austria got just 5 percent of the vote.
This moderate democracy continued in power through the end of the Allied occupation in 1955 and afterward. There was emphatically no Communist government in postwar Austria. On the contrary, the Austrian government was at loggerheads with the Soviets during their stay in eastern Austria.
As for those “tanks in the streets,” by the time Mr. Schwarzenegger was born, any Soviet tanks in Austria — there were never any in Styria — were long gone.
So for what purpose did Mr. Schwarzenegger feel it was necessary to tell lies? Perhaps he was caught up in the Bush campaign’s mood of falsehood and distortion.
Fairfax, Virginia

— Steve Clemons