In the midst of a torrent of allegations concerning rich and powerful men behaving badly and in some cases, criminally, sooner or later the Democratic Party is going to be forced to reassess the esteem and veneration in which they have held former president Bill Clinton.
The revelations about Harvey Weinstein have caused an outpouring of claims from a multitude of women across the cultural and occupational divide. The fact that the opprobrious conduct was in the past is no longer a sufficient reason thankfully for dismissing outright the allegations.
Given the new and welcoming environment for holding men in positions of power who abuse that trust or their status in the past for personal aggrandizement, it is hard to see how Democrats can argue indefinitely that Bill Clinton’s past behavior is moot.
Some in the media can see the handwriting on the wall. Chris Hayes of MSNBC was one of the first on the Left who understands that Democrats now can no longer offer their standard and shopworn defense that Clinton’s conduct occurred in the past and the matter has already been litigated. Yet this was precisely the response Hillary gave during a recent interview when asked about the difference between Trump’s alleged depravity and that of her husband and it was Bill Clinton’s get out of jail free card for paving the way for Hillary’s coronation.
As I note in my book Election 2016, the idea that Hillary could make Bill Clinton’s past sexual misconduct and mistreatment of women off limits during the election, “was breathtakingly audacious and hypocritical. Only one assured that the media was in her pocket would dare to be so presumptuous.”
The problem for Democrats, as Hayes notes, is that there is an outstanding and very credible allegation by Juanita Broaddrick that she was raped by Bill Clinton in the late 1970’s. If a miscreant like Roy Moore should be cast aside in his quest to represent Alabama in the Senate for credible allegations of misconduct that occurred over thirty years ago, how can Democrats continue to deify Bill Clinton as a revered icon of the party?
In the Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan raises similar questions. Flanagan correctly notes that feminists completely squandered their credibilty in the 1990’s by their rush to defend Bill Clinton’s indefensible behavior. Additionally, Flanagan observes that the most remarkable aspect of the cascade of sexual harassment and assault accusations is that these women’s stories 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. Moreover, we have finally come to some kind of national consensus about the workplace; it naturally fosters a level of romance and flirtation, but the line between those impulses and the sexual predation of a boss is clear.
Flanagan notes the following about Clinton’s debauchery and how men accused today are being cashiered for far less,
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 movement had by then ossified into a partisan operation and it was willing—eager—to let this friend of the sisterhood enjoy a little droit de seigneur.
It will be interesting to view the posture of Democrats as the cries for reexamining the corrosive conduct of Bill Clinton become more loud with each passing day.