When Arnold Schwarzenegger burst onto the political scene a couple of decades ago, he was a Republican pol's dream: an icon of mostly liberal Hollywood willing to admit he had conservative convictions. But in the ensuing years, Schwarzenegger trampled on many of those dreams, staking out positions in elective office on immigration, cap-and-trade, and law and order that flew in the face of conservative ideology.
And his post-gubernatorial admission of a secret affair with his housekeeper -- that resulted in a love child he hid from his wife, Maria Shriver, and their children -- all but shatters the family values image he tried to sustain.
The question now on most minds: Can the Terminator find a strategy to return to prominence and utter his most famous acting line, 'I'll be back', once again?
I caught up with one of Hollywood's most powerful and prominent PR players, Michael Levine
, to ask that very question. He thinks the Terminator is, well, terminated.
Levine's firm has represented a Who's Who of American culture -- from Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson to Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Bill Clinton. In short, America's rich and powerful turn to him for advice when in crisis.
Levine disclosed to me that he twice voted for Schwarzenegger for governor. But it didn't keep him from mincing words as he predicted Schwarzenegger has only just begun his downward spiral from power.
"America right now is a very cynical place and for good reason," Levine told me. "Arnold Schwarzenegger has gifted America with another reason to be cynical. By the way, societies that are profoundly cynical are not healthy societies."
"Before the scandal, his political career was over (since he did such a poor job as Governor). Now, since the scandal, any kind of fantasy he may have had with a future in politics -- appointed or otherwise -- is non-existent. He is politically radioactive," Levine added.
Levine also is worried the backlash from his downward fall from grace could also cost Schwarzenegger at the box office.
"Before the scandal, his acting days as a leading man action hero were also largely going to be over because he is aging and was never a great actor to begin with. Now, since the scandal...look, last time I went to a movie theatre about half the people in there were women and I'm not exactly sure how this is going to play out with them."
"The thing about Arnold is he likes himself A LOT, A LOT. I am told by people very close to him that he is so far out there that he actually believes that people think he did a good job as Governor."
Prior to leaving office, Schwarzenegger shocked people when he commuted the sentence of Esteban Nunez, the son of a political ally who had plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the stabbing death of 22 year old college student, Luis Santos.
The Terminator seen here yukking it up with political friend Fabian Nunez. Arnold commuted the manslaughter sentence of Nunez's son before leaving office.
The Santos family has filed a lawsuit against Arnold Schwarzenegger alleging he violated a victim's rights initiative when he reduced the manslaughter sentence. It's just one more cloud hanging over the storm front we now know to be Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger has just announced that work on his new movie projects will stop "until further notice." "At the request of Arnold Schwarzenegger, we asked Creative Artists Agency to inform all his motion picture projects currently underway, or being negotiated, to stop planning until further notice," said Schwarzenegger's lawyer, Patrick Knapp.
Apparently, the Terminator will have his hands full preparing for the most important role of his life after politics: defendant in what will surely be an expensive and very public divorce trial.