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August 24. 2013 1:57AM

Roger Simon: If only Bob Filner were a movie star


 

SAN DIEGO Mayor Bob Filner, who is accused of being a serial groper of women, has a problem that goes beyond his behavior.

In a state where celebrities are often worshipped, Filner does not resemble a celebrity.

He has a smile like a Halloween pumpkin and a forehead with enough wrinkles to resemble an electrocardiogram. He does not have the lean and hungry look of, say, Anthony Weiner, a fellow Democrat with whom he once served in the U.S. Congress.

But it is unlikely that Filner, 70, has ever emailed pictures of his abs to anyone. Filner's body bears an unfortunate resemblance to a sack of doorknobs.

No, Filner is not the sexting type. He is the groping, grabbing, sticking his hand down the bra, licking the face, sticking his tongue down the throat type. Allegedly. Allegedly in allegations made by 18 women.

One of his most recent accusers is a 67-year-old grandmother, who worked part-time for the city to supplement her Social Security income. She says Filner once kissed her on the mouth and on another occasion "came by my desk and asked me if I thought he could go eight hours in one night."

Another woman claims Filner started "jamming his tongue" down her throat, and another says he reached inside her bra. Another says Filner told her she could do a better job "without your panties on."

Filner admits he "failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me," but has refused to resign.

Those demanding his resignation include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and U.S Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and all nine members of the San Diego City Council.

Also, a San Diego Hooters has posted a sign on its door saying Filner is not welcome inside.

Back in 2003, gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger was accused by 15 women of groping them or otherwise touching them sexually against their will.

Schwarzenegger apologized to anybody he might have "offended" but refused to drop out of the race. He was running in a special election that would simultaneously recall the unpopular incumbent Gov. Gray Davis and choose his successor.

Schwarzenegger's poll numbers dipped after the accusations, but he had something going for him: He was a huge celebrity with celebrity friends.

Before the election, Jay Leno said in one of his monologues, "You've got Arnold, who groped a few women, or Davis, who screwed the whole state."

It got a big laugh. And Gray Davis could foresee his doom. "This is California," he said. "Celebrities are a big deal here."

Then Oprah had both Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, on her show, and Shriver told everyone to ignore the accusations against her husband. "I know the man I'm married to," she told Oprah.

Davis was dumped, and Schwarzenegger was elected and re-elected without ever answering the charges those 15 women made against him. Nobody seemed to care.

In 2011, after finding out Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with the family housekeeper, Shriver took off her wedding ring, gathered up her children, left her home and filed for divorce.

But Schwarzenegger is still a celebrity. Next year he is scheduled to appear once again as "Conan the Barbarian" and later do another "Terminator" movie.

This is the kind of celebrity status that Bob Filner lacks. And it must bother him. He says he is misunderstood. "I'm a hugger," he says.

Life is so unfair. Schwarzenegger can walk down the red carpet anywhere in the state. Filner can't even walk into the local Hooters.

Roger Simon is Politico's chief political columnist.


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