Bill Clinton: A Reckoning

Bill Clinton: A Reckoning, by Caitlan Flanagan in The Atlantic, a notably left wing outlet.

Hillary Clinton takes oath-of-office as United States Secretary of State. Bill Clinton also pictured.

Feminists saved the 42nd president of the United States in the 1990s. They were on the wrong side of history; is it finally time to make things right?

The most remarkable thing about the current tide of sexual assault and harassment accusations is not their number. … Nor is it the power of the men involved; history instructs us that for countless men, the ability to possess women sexually is not a spoil of power; it’s the point of power. What’s remarkable is that these women are being believed.

Most of them don’t have police reports or witnesses or physical evidence; many of them are recounting events that transpired years — sometimes decades — ago. In some cases, their accusations are validated by a vague, carefully couched quasi-admission of guilt; in others they are met with outright denial. It doesn’t matter. We believe them. …

Yet let us not forget the sex crimes of which the younger, stronger Bill Clinton was very credibly accused in the 1990s. Juanita Broaddrick reported that when she was a volunteer on one of his gubernatorial campaigns, she had arranged to meet him in a hotel coffee shop. At the last minute, he had changed the location to her room in the hotel, where she says he very violently raped her. She said she fought against Clinton throughout a rape that left her bloodied. At a different Arkansas hotel, he caught sight of a minor state employee named Paula Jones, and, Jones says, he sent a couple of state troopers to invite her to his suite, where he exposed his penis to her and told her to kiss it. Kathleen Willey said that she met him in the Oval Office for personal and professional advice and that he groped her, rubbed his erect penis on her, and pushed her hand to his crotch.

It was a pattern of behavior; it included an alleged violent assault; the women involved had far more credible evidence than many of the most notorious accusations that have come to light in the past five weeks. But Clinton was not left to the swift and pitiless justice that today’s accused men have experienced. Rather, he was rescued by a surprising force: machine feminism. …

The notorious 1998 New York Times op-ed by Gloria Steinem must surely stand as one of the most regretted public actions of her life. It slut-shamed, victim-blamed, and age-shamed; it urged compassion for and gratitude to the man the women accused. Moreover (never write an op-ed in a hurry; you’ll accidentally say what you really believe), it characterized contemporary feminism as a weaponized auxiliary of the Democratic Party.

Now that the Clintons are no use politically to feminists, the feminists are going to go after Bill. Which demonstrates that it’s about the side or the tribe, not the principle.

The Democratic Party needs to make its own reckoning of the way it protected Bill Clinton. The party needs to come to terms with the fact that it was so enraptured by their brilliant, Big Dog president and his stunning string of progressive accomplishments that it abandoned some of its central principles. The party was on the wrong side of history and there are consequences for that. Yet expedience is not the only reason to make this public accounting. If it is possible for politics and moral behavior to coexist, then this grave wrong needs to be acknowledged. If Weinstein and Mark Halperin and Louis C.K. and all the rest can be held accountable, so can our former president and so can his party, which so many Americans so desperately need to rise again.

Finally the conservatives are going to be acknowledged as correct about Bill Clinton. And the Democrats as wrong, lying and hypocritical, by their own admission. Expect a subdued media coverage.