Bill Clinton: A Reckoning
November 14, 2017 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Reckoning Bill Clinton's sex crimes (not an article about Monica Lewinsky) "...Let us not forget the sex crimes of which....Bill Clinton was very credibly accused in the 1990s" -Caitlin Flanagan
posted by bearette (213 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Caitlin Flanagan is shitty and very clearly holds the principle that 'democrats are bad' to be more important than 'patriarchy is a thing and feminism is good'. Having said that, I read this article and did some googling about these accusations and they cannot be dismissed. I believe that Bill Clinton is a rapist and I believe these women. I also believe that if this were to happen today, democrats would be better at holding politicians accountable and it would be harder for Clinton to get elected.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:27 AM on November 14 [41 favorites]


Yes. I ignored the accusations against Clinton when he was actually running for president, and shouldn't have. Sexually abusive and predatory behavior is not the province of one party, and shouldn't be tolerated in any setting.
posted by maxsparber at 7:31 AM on November 14 [37 favorites]


My rage at feminists defending Bill Clinton and dismissing the allegations against him is old enough to drink at this point. (I don't think I voted to re-elect him in 1996, though that was approximately 800 political years ago, so memory is foggy.) I think at best he's a sleazy sexual assaulter and serial abuser-of-power and he's always grossed me out.

I also believe that if this were to happen today, democrats would be better at holding politicians accountable and it would be harder for Clinton to get elected.

But, this too. He's been grandfathered in, which I wish he wasn't, but I don't think his shit would fly in the year 2017 with a very large chunk of the party. At least, I certainly hope not.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:34 AM on November 14 [24 favorites]


There are some good points here, but many unfair hits as well.

Personally, I wasn't a fan of Bill's until the Lewinsky matter. At the time, I thought he was being unfairly hounded for something that had nothing to do with his performance of the office. I didn't pay much attention to what had gone on before then, except maybe as information needed to get the Clinton jokes flying around. Since then, however, I've learned a lot about workplace relations and power imbalances and predatory behaviour, and yes, how Bill behaved as a boss very much matters.

I definitely learned a lot in the intervening years, and I'm not the only one. I am not proud of my support of Bill at that time -- and of the ancillary dismissal of the women's claims -- but I admit that that's what I did. I regret this. Hopefully, the culture as a whole is a bit wiser, too.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:41 AM on November 14 [17 favorites]


I also believe that if this were to happen today, democrats would be better at holding politicians accountable and it would be harder for Clinton to get elected.

Bill Clinton to headline Emily’s List award gala

That's from a year and a half ago at a prominent women's advocacy group.
posted by indubitable at 7:50 AM on November 14 [20 favorites]


First of all: I believe these women.

But what is the desired outcome here? He can't be removed from office. He can't be fired from his production company or have his movie shelved. Is there a possibility of criminal charges being brought against him? What do the accusers want?

Unless Caitlin Flanagan has spoken with the accusers and one or more of them said "write a piece for the Atlantic about us," I don't really see why this is more important right now, on this date, than demanding accountability for, say, the current president of the United States (who also happens to endanger each of our lives through general recklessness, in addition to being a serial predator and abuser).

The D/R comparison is pretty clear these days about who gets consequences (Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, et al) and who gets excuses and pastoral support (Roy Moore, Donald J. Trump). I agree that what happened in the 1990s would not fly now, in 2017. We seem to have been learning how to handle sexual assault more appropriately over the years. It's not perfect, but it's better.

I just don't have much energy to circle back around the Clintons and have these discussions, again and again, twenty years later. What does it matter what we discuss? Ask the accusers what they want, and let's go from there. Charge him with crimes if that's what's needed. But let's not waste valuable time and resources dissecting this again. Especially when there are egregious offenses and imminent threats posed by someone currently in office.
posted by witchen at 7:51 AM on November 14 [109 favorites]


Bill Clinton was the first presidential vote I cast. I regretted it and didn't vote for his re-election, but it wasn't due to this issue.

It wasn't until recently that I started thinking about these (credible) allegations again, and feel shame for not giving them proper credence at the time.

I have some quibbles about the article, but the overall gist is one I support - there needs to be a reckoning on Bill Clinton by the left, his past supporters, and democrats in general.

There isn't any reason for him to be 'grandfathered in' (which, I will admit, seems to be the case at the moment); we didn't do that for Bill Cosby. We shunned Bill Cosby, we made him cancel his public appearances by making it clear that we didn't want to pay money to hear a rapist talk to us or to make us laugh.

In my mind a desired outcome is that he is never given a book deal again, never invited on a stage, never part of a fundraising activity, never invited to be part of the public discourse, that he is treated with the respect and admiration that we currently give Bill Cosby.

Those that actively defended him at the time would probably be better human beings if they came forward with a public explanation and a sincere apology for enabling both him, and other offenders.

Until there is a reckoning, he is a stain on his entire party, and those that associate with him.
posted by el io at 7:55 AM on November 14 [49 favorites]


I don't really see why this is more important right now, on this date,

there's a huge rift between establishment Democrats that the Clintons help represent and the more progressive, diverse crowd that I guess Bernie represents but probably is better rep'd by Grace Meng, Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris, et al that is very keen to clean house and to stop being told by old white donors what to do, when to do it, and to smile all at the same time

we can have a conversation about B. Clinton's history of sexual assaults, resolving this rift, and also do all of that 'resist Trump' stuff that I guess works but hasn't amounted to really anything in my city except for some marches that this unaccountable group of white millenials put on without much consultation with the organizers in my city who've been organizing for years
posted by runt at 8:02 AM on November 14 [20 favorites]


there's a huge rift between establishment Democrats that the Clintons help represent and the more progressive, diverse crowd that I guess Bernie represents

The broader point of acknowledging Bill Clinton's wrongs having a positive effect on the rift in the Democratic Party is probably a good one. I just happen to disagree with exactly how the Democrats are partitioned and think that this conversation could easily be derailed by that disagreement. Let's keep on track! Bill Clinton was given a pass and we shouldn't give him a pass in the future. If you need a former Dem president to give a speech, there are still two alive that are shining examples of good character.
posted by Jpfed at 8:08 AM on November 14 [19 favorites]


witchen: He can't be fired from his production company or have his movie shelved.

He could be removed from the board of the Clinton Foundation, and some of his honorary degrees could be revoked. There may or may not be any point to either of those things, but symbolic formalities are still possible.
posted by clawsoon at 8:13 AM on November 14 [21 favorites]


Clinton's behavior would certainly be treated differently now. But Juanita Broaddrick still should not be considered a credible accuser after having signed an affidavit denying the story
posted by knoyers at 8:32 AM on November 14 [5 favorites]


Bill Clinton was pretty obviously sleazy from the start. But we were desperate for the Reagan-Bush years to end. Clinton had a broader appeal than Mondale of Dukakis had. Particularly with the white working class people still won’t shut up about, and the baby boomers. He had charisma, and he was electable. We knew, even at the time, that it was a deal with the devil. We knew he was going to triangulate on trade and welfare, but we’d get gays in the military and health insurance. And anyway, it would be better than 4 more years of Bush. We wanted a Peace Dividend, not more Cold War paranoia and invasions.

In hindsight, maybe we did make the wrong choice. Who might we have elected after 8 years of Bush senior? Clinton should have seemed more dangerous than he did. We also had no idea the GOP would go off the rails, making a vendetta against behavior that had been accepted as an open secret by past presidents. They weren’t doing it for women of society. It was pure political extremism, and that fact made it hard for Democrats to know what to do. Defend indefensible behavior? Or give in to craven partisanship?

Again, if given a do-over, I’d happily convict Clinton and let Gore take the reins. Even though it would set a terrible political precedent and empower the GOP extremists. Because Clinton was never worth defending. His best trick was convincing us that he was.
posted by rikschell at 8:32 AM on November 14 [18 favorites]


I struggle with this question with Bill Clinton whenever I think about it. Being reminded of Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, and Kathleen Willey's stories it seems very clear. Bill Clinton is a disgusting sexual abuser, a violent rapist according to Broaddrick, and there's just no excusing it. Even given the dumb political way these charges first saw light (from Whitewater to Lewinsky to scandal).

But what I really struggle with is Hillary Clinton. She chose to defend her husband after the Lewinsky thing; that I can understand and even admire. But what does she think about the rape and assault charges from these other women? And how involved was she in the campaign to try to discredit these accusers?

And then on top of that, I feel awful judging anything a woman might do in response to rape and assault charges her husband is facing. Iit's the man who's the criminal abuser here, his wife is collateral damage. Sure I might have opinions on how any woman in her position should act, but I don't feel right judging how someone in her position does act.

And then the olive on top of the shit sandwich: the 2016 election. Where we have a known sexual assaulter running against the wife of a sexual assaulter. There's no equivalence there, Trump is clearly worse on any scale. But the waters are muddy. And oh boy did the Trump campaign muddy the waters. Remember when Clintons accusers were invited to the debate by Trump? At least one of them actively participated in Roger Stone's Rape PAC to help get Trump elected. (No, really). In the end all these Bill Clinton crimes are about politics, not just justice for victims of sexual abuse. Or maybe the two are the same.

It's just all so awful. Good men don't rape. They don't assault, they don't pressure women to have sex. Good men do exist. But the bad ones, they leave a wide swath of destruction.
posted by Nelson at 8:36 AM on November 14 [18 favorites]


While I think it is fantastic that we are finally coming to grips with the pervasive low level sexual misconduct women are subject to in the workplace, I fear that many are taking the wrong message. Maybe I've just been reading the wrong things, but it seems that an equivalence is being drawn between problematic, but legal, lecherous behavior and outright assault and/or battery against someone's will.

No, asking first doesn't make it OK, but it's definitely better than being told no and doing it anyway. It's nowhere in the same ballpark as "dating" young teens or even aggressively groping random women. Worse, the asshats admit to it and see few consequences.

None of this excuses anyone's bad behavior, I'm just not sure how the hell we can win on this badly tilted field when we find relatively minor misbehavior that isn't even proven completely disqualifying but the Republicans are happy to have self-avowed rapists, serial abusers, and ephebophiles holding office. I get that we should aim higher, but in the short term there's only so many people with nationwide name recognition.
posted by wierdo at 8:42 AM on November 14 [3 favorites]


Bill Clinton was pretty obviously sleazy from the start. But we were desperate for the Reagan-Bush years to end. Clinton had a broader appeal than Mondale of Dukakis had. Particularly with the white working class people still won’t shut up about, and the baby boomers. He had charisma, and he was electable.

"Donald Trump was pretty obviously sleazy from the start. But we were desperate for the Obama-Biden years to end. Trump had a broader appeal than Jeb or Kaisch had. Particularly with the white working class people still won’t shut up about, and the baby boomers. He had charisma, and he was electable."

Yeah - it's a pretty shitty argument no matter what names you use.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:45 AM on November 14 [37 favorites]


Good men don't rape. They don't assault, they don't pressure women to have sex. Good men do exist. But the bad ones, they leave a wide swath of destruction.

that's not how systemic sexism works. Clinton is as much a product of our society as the dozen+ powerful white men who are now in the limelight for abusing their outsized amounts of power. thinking that there's a dichotomy between good / bad men is the ideology that makes women have to produce receipts for their trauma. men, universally, are terrible because our society is constructed in such a way that it both pushes and allows them to be terrible on a cultural, legal, and economic level

I won't, for a second, be surprised if it comes out that there are more incidents in Clinton's past or that there are a great many more men in political office who are monstrous shitbags. if airbags are demonstrating a pattern of killing people on inflation then it's probably time to stop blaming the driver who crashed the car and to start thinking about the design and manufacturing of the product
posted by runt at 8:45 AM on November 14 [11 favorites]


relatively minor misbehavior

Did you read the accusations of these women from the article?
posted by bearette at 8:48 AM on November 14 [8 favorites]


... In the end all these Bill Clinton crimes are about politics, not just justice for victims of sexual abuse. Or maybe the two are the same.

These women dealt with the devil because the devil was the only one who would deal with them. It is hard to confront.

I wonder why Clinton’s career didn’t get promptly derailed the way that Gary Hart’s did. (Remember him? I only do because of political cartoons.) I think it’s like rikschell said. He had an appeal in the South, rare for Democrats. And he was fortunate in his enemies, who were and are loathsome.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:51 AM on November 14 [12 favorites]


Maybe I've just been reading the wrong things, but it seems that an equivalence is being drawn between problematic, but legal, lecherous behavior and outright assault and/or battery against someone's will.

A lot of what's mentioned in the article was absolutely not legal.

Regardless, the "legal, lecherous behavior" that Joss Whedon exhibited got him rightly condemned as a piece of shit, both because it's hard to believe a man is any kind of sincere feminist/progressive when they treat women like that, and because the massive power differential between a powerful male employer and a younger female employee (or campaign volunteer) can lead to serious exploitation.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 8:57 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


Back then I was so willing to overlook it all - forgive him - place blame on the women. Ugh. Older and wiser hurts sometimes.
posted by double bubble at 9:03 AM on November 14 [3 favorites]


Maybe I've just been reading the wrong things, but it seems that an equivalence is being drawn between problematic, but legal, lecherous behavior and outright assault and/or battery against someone's will.

The implied threat of retaliation isn't illegal, but it sure as hell can turn something that would otherwise be considered illegal into "technically legal." That's a universal problem with power differentials at both a social/cultural and a personal level. Patriarchal societies and organizations are just one facet of that.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:11 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


*clicks link*

*ctrl-F for any mention of Kenneth Starr who interviewed Broaddrick and Wiley and did his best to make these charges stick*

*finds none*

Yeah, sorry, my memory of the 90's is too good to play this game. But y'all can have fun.
posted by asteria at 9:11 AM on November 14 [17 favorites]


I just don't have much energy to circle back around the Clintons and have these discussions, again and again, twenty years later. What does it matter what we discuss? Ask the accusers what they want, and let's go from there. Charge him with crimes if that's what's needed. But let's not waste valuable time and resources dissecting this again. Especially when there are egregious offenses and imminent threats posed by someone currently in office.

For 20+ years, every time a sex scandal has come up that involves a Republican, conservatives have pointed a finger at Bill Clinton and cried hypocrisy, rather than deal with the actual scandal that one of their own cheated on their spouse or molested children or abused their power for sex. The latest of course, is Roy Moore, the molesting ex-state supreme court judge from Alabama. Caitlin Flanagan used to speak out against feminism, although I'm not sure what her politics are now. On some level the timing of this (coupled with the fact that the #metoo movement is happening and so many awful, rapist celebrities are being decloaked) is to be expected.

And yet, it's worth focusing on. It's worth talking about.

Because the accusations are believable (and they are) and if the Democratic party has lionized a multiple rapist (they did) that should absolutely be examined. It's not just about what the women want any more. It's likely they were used for political gain by both sides - discussing how and why that happened can help us from preventing the rise to power of a predator in the future. This is bigger than Trump. It's yet another, deeper level of rape culture. Both political parties have protected rapists and help elect them to state and national office -- and to the Presidency.

I believe the women. I don't know what to think about Juanita Broderick, but I believe her too, because potential victims deserve to be treated with respect and not as liars. Especially in a world where so many have had to give up the possibility of justice against their abusers for some peace.

Sometimes justice can't be given to victims. A rapist dies. A child molester avoids being jailed. A sexual harasser gets away scot free because they are protected by the system. A groping disgusting asshole gets elected President and becomes untouchable.

But if it's possible to prevent the circumstances that allowed them to abuse others from providing other predators with opportunities, then that's important. If it's possible to look at a rapist who got away and prevent such a thing from happening again, then that's important too. Changing rape culture also prevents new ones from happening. Plus, telling someone that we know what they are and condemning them for the abuse and injuries they got away with inflicting matters too.

Ignoring the situation or dismissing it offers justice to no one.
posted by zarq at 9:12 AM on November 14 [27 favorites]


And he was fortunate in his enemies, who were and are loathsome.

During Clinton's tenure I was a young Republican Rush Limbaugh fan, and pretty much believed every terrible thing the right wing said about him. I didn't really start re-thinking my politics until the disastrous Iraq War, but when I took a second look at everything I shifted to the left pretty quickly. As my politics changed, I assumed that the Clinton sexual scandals (except for Lewinsky) were ginned up by the GOP, who were throwing anything they could at Clinton whether it made sense or not. It may be true that Clinton was fortunate in his enemies--so much of what they said about him was nonsense that it makes it harder to believe the parts that were credible. And Flanagan is right that the feminist establishment covered for Bill, making it even easier for newly-converted liberals like me to assume there was nothing substantial to it.

Now...it certainly seems like an undeniable pattern, even with the flaws in Broaddrick's and Willey's testimony. We know the Lewinsky affair happened, and the settlement with Paula Jones is a tacit admission of her claims. I agree--it's time to accept that the left gave him a pass that we shouldn't have given him. He can't represent the party at speeches and conventions anymore. A formal statement of censure from the DNC is probably not a bad idea, even after all these years. We are fortunate that we have Obama, who has equal political gifts without even a hint of scandal.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:13 AM on November 14 [20 favorites]


Lets not interpret a failure to a powerful man for sexual assault in the 90s as evidence that these women are lying.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:13 AM on November 14 [6 favorites]


If that election had taken place in 2017 instead, it's not just that we believe women differently--it's that we have a whole different crowd of politicians now, at least some of whom were not raised in the sort of world where people thought that stuff was acceptable. If we could change that world to make it more like this one, we might have just flat out had far better candidates available, candidates who actually felt like people we could support by 2017 standards. Going back and saying Democrats should have behaved differently 20 years ago--I mean, yes, of course. Not just on this. On a hundred things. A thousand. Today's crop of politicians is not much better than 20 years ago--but they are better. When Clinton was elected, I was a teenager and my parents were still making it clear that they wanted me to go to college but did not want me to actually have a career. When I left an abusive relationship in 2001, it was in a world where I still assumed a great many people I knew would say it was my fault for living with someone outside of marriage. It was simultaneously a long time ago and thirty seconds ago, but it wasn't now.

Bill Clinton is a terrible example of a man, period. I don't mind hearing that and I don't mind saying it, though yes, it took me awhile to get to that point. I believe it without having to vet the factual accuracy of every single thing ever said; the balance still shows. What I mind is when the conversation is "but what about Bill Clinton". That's a different conversation. There's no "but". It is a thing that was dealt with, it is a thing that is still being dealt with, it is an ongoing issue; what it is not is something Caitlin Flanagan genuinely cares about. She doesn't care about the ways that the world was then, the ways that it is now, and the ways that it needs to be in future. She only cares about scoring points using someone else's pain.
posted by Sequence at 9:22 AM on November 14 [23 favorites]


[One deleted; people, Caitlin Flanagan is a troll, don't be trolled into getting nasty with other commenters pointing that out. We can understand that while also taking seriously Clinton's misdeeds.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:33 AM on November 14 [10 favorites]


witchen: “I just don't have much energy to circle back around the Clintons and have these discussions, again and again, twenty years later. What does it matter what we discuss? Ask the accusers what they want, and let's go from there. Charge him with crimes if that's what's needed. But let's not waste valuable time and resources dissecting this again. Especially when there are egregious offenses and imminent threats posed by someone currently in office.”

We can talk about more than one thing at a time.
posted by koeselitz at 9:34 AM on November 14 [11 favorites]


This is a hard one, I think, because of the taint around Wiley and Broaddick and the very questionable witnesses of the time. The fact that Ken Starr went fishing with them and couldn't find anything should raise questions. Paula Jones I feel differently about -- the evidence is good and the settlement was very much about "how much can we pay you for your silence."

It's tough because Bill Clinton was one of the better presidents of the 20th century, someone who was able on outmaneuver a strong GOP political force through some unorthodox tactics and a healthy dose of pragmatism. But, he was (and perhaps still is) a predator who used his power for sex.

I think the greatest consequence of Clinton was not his predation; certainly it's endemic in men in power. It's that we normalized this predation in politics, that instead of "you should never do that" it's one giant whataboutism now. Moore can get away with being a pedophile sex predator because well back in 1998. Trump can because #fakenews and bias and whatever else you want to throw in there. Bill needs to be removed from public life, but that's not going to put the worms back in the can.

It's ironic that just as America is finding its moral fiber to speak truth to power the Religious Right has lost theirs.
posted by dw at 9:34 AM on November 14 [6 favorites]


Countess Elena: I wonder why Clinton’s career didn’t get promptly derailed the way that Gary Hart’s did.

Ross Perot played a big part in Clinton's first win. Clinton got 43% of the vote, which would have been an embarrassing loss in any other election.

How many of Ross Perot's voters would've voted for Clinton had Perot not entered the race?
posted by clawsoon at 9:37 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


We can talk about more than one thing at a time.

I knew that would come up. And it's true. But there is room for only 2-3 stories above the fold on the NYT front page, and about that many in the short-term memory of your average newswatcher. If it's a Clinton headline, it sticks even more, because [we've been over this a whole bunch of times].

This particular week, Donald Trump is talking about bringing criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. There's enough unquestioning acceptance of her evil-ness out there that I really think a "let's discuss her husband's sexual assaults" will only add to the damage she--and the country--will experience if that goes forward. It also detracts from what needs to be dominating headlines, which is the amazing corruption and incompetence in the Trump Administration.

They would like nothing more than for us to be tied up over Clinton stuff right now.
posted by witchen at 9:39 AM on November 14 [12 favorites]


They would like nothing more than for us to be tied up over Clinton stuff right now.

If dealing with this issue isn't a good idea because of political reasons... Isn't that what got us to where we are now?

Most people that read the NYT probably don't even know what a 'top fold' means, and they certainly don't read the paper edition.

If this issue starts to get more press, that isn't going to stop the Washington Post from its aggressive reporting on the administration. It won't stop congressional democrats from being as diligent as they were in fighting the administration's agenda. It won't halt Mueller investigation.

Maybe we should wait to discuss this until its a good time to discuss gun laws.

If one wants to be a hard political realist (instead of calling for justice for justice's sake), perhaps the reason to deal with this issue is so that when democrats are accused of being hypocrites on the issue of accountability for sexual assault, we can fight back, and say, no, we aren't hypocrites, we finally called for justice for Clinton's misdeeds, even if it took us way too long. If we refuse to call Bill to justice because of political strategy reasons, aren't we the hypocrites they accuse us of being?
posted by el io at 9:50 AM on November 14 [13 favorites]


This particular week, Donald Trump is talking about bringing criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. There's enough unquestioning acceptance of her evil-ness out there that I really think a "let's discuss her husband's sexual assaults" will only add to the damage she--and the country--will experience if that goes forward.

That's not the only potential outcome. Also, discussing her husband's potential crimes and admitting that the Democratic Party defended the indefensible is not going to derail Trump's insanity or his obsession with being publicly humiliated by her in three debates or that he lost the popular vote to her.

They would like nothing more than for us to be tied up over Clinton stuff right now.

Victims of rape and sexual assault deserve better than "Sorry, but this isn't a good time. Come back during a slow news cycle" or "But hasn't Hillary Clinton been through enough".
posted by zarq at 9:51 AM on November 14 [35 favorites]


Because the accusations are believable (and they are) and if the Democratic party has lionized a multiple rapist (they did) that should absolutely be examined

What you wrote could just also apply to JFK and possibly FDR. Unlike Bill Clinton, both are dead, but both are also much bigger symbolic and influential figures in the Democratic Party than Bill Clinton.
posted by FJT at 9:51 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


My rage at feminists defending Bill Clinton and dismissing the allegations against him is old enough to drink at this point.

Speaking as one of those feminists....

At the time, the press was really pretty vague about the exact nature of these allegations. They were skeevy, yeah - but they were also all presented as consensual, which I think explains why Bill got more of a pass. I especially remember discussing the transcripts of the phone calls that Linda Tripp secretly taped with Monica Lewinsky; a guy in the conversation was dubious that Tripp and Lewinsky could have talked on the phone as long as they did if all Lewinsky and Clinton had done was "talk", and me and the other women in the discussion all immediately said "trust me, it's possible." At the time, Lewinsky was depicted as a consensual and willing partiicpant in the relationship; as for the other allegations, those were also depicted as either "consensual if there's even anything to them in the first place".

Also, I was only in my 20s. I hadn't really had much of an understanding of how that power imbalance makes the whole situation troubling, even if all parties are willing. I know better now - and it looks like so does Monica Lewinsky (she quietly added her tweet to the "Metoo" hashtag campaign, but didn't say a thing about who she meant - but come on). Also, it was only a few months after Anita Hill made her speech to Congress and it was still a new idea for many that sexual harrassment was even a Thing.

In 1992 the Gen-X camp was just starting to get politically involved. For many of us it was our first presidential election. We were sick of Reagan-Bush, we were being told half-truths and we didn't understand the scope of the problem.

But that was then. This is now. We know better now, and even though there's nothing we can do about it, we need to at least acknowledge the mistake.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:52 AM on November 14 [40 favorites]


What you wrote could just also apply to JFK and possibly FDR.

I agree! JFK was a gross creeper!

Unlike Bill Clinton, both are dead, but both are also much bigger symbolic and influential figures in the Democratic Party than Bill Clinton.

I will also definitely push back against having JFK or FDR speak at DNC events
posted by beerperson at 9:56 AM on November 14 [22 favorites]


What you wrote could just also apply to JFK and possibly FDR. Unlike Bill Clinton, both are dead, but both are also much bigger symbolic and influential figures in the Democratic Party than Bill Clinton.

By all means, we can discuss them and not sweep them under the rug. But as you note, Clinton's still here. He's still lionized by the party, is one of its representatives and of course, he also spoke at the Democratic National Convention last year.
posted by zarq at 9:56 AM on November 14 [10 favorites]


Lets not interpret a failure to a powerful man for sexual assault in the 90s as evidence that these women are lying.

Normally I would agree with you, but Bill Clinton is probably the most closely investigated person in the history of history. If it went beyond creepy boss territory, that would have been in the articles of impeachment. Think of all the things that were nearly completely made up that they tried to crucify him for. Were there solid evidence of any serious misconduct, they would have been crowing about that instead, yet they kept going to the Vince Foster Mena cocaine conspiracy theories.

In any event, equating that with people who have admitted to entirely nonconsensual sexual battery, having inappropriate relationships with minors, and intentionally walking in on undressed teenagers for sexual gratification is insane.

I once accidentally walked out of a store and made it all the way home without paying for $20 worth of bulky items I'd put in the bottom of the cart before realizing it happened. Worse, I didn't drive the half hour back to pay for the stuff after realizing my mistake. The way some of you guys seem to think (just based on what's been written here), that's morally equivalent to reaching over and taking all the money in the till.

That said, I'm not in any way advocating silence on the issue. It is not acceptable to make women collateral damage just so we can win elections. So by all means point out the missing stair, but maybe don't get the whole staircase torn down while you're at it.
posted by wierdo at 9:57 AM on November 14 [3 favorites]


They would like nothing more than for us to be tied up over Clinton stuff right now.

The answer to that, I think, is to avoid getting tied up over it, and instead to quickly and clearly admit Bill's faults and move him to the sidelines, and then gesture pointed toward Trump.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:58 AM on November 14 [10 favorites]


Again, if given a do-over, I’d happily convict Clinton and let Gore take the reins.

Al Gore also has a history with sexual misconduct.
posted by FJT at 10:01 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


Were there solid evidence of any serious misconduct

Criminally speaking, rape is one of the more unprovable crimes once time has elapsed. If the victim did not rush to a hospital or clinic immediately following their assault to have someone swab them with a rape kit that would provide DNA evidence, it becomes unlikely that the rapist would be prosecuted. The presence of a rape kit doesn't guarantee that it will be properly processed by the police or a lab. It doesn't guarantee that it won't be thrown out or destroyed, either. And of course, rapists tend to prey on the most vulnerable, who won't be believed or may even face punishment if they come forward.

Without physical evidence, the crime becomes hearsay. Women who come forward are at a distinct disadvantage in that regard. So most rapes go unreported and unpunished. Police tend to disbelieve victims. Children are particularly vulnerable to this problem, but women and men who have been raped run into the same barriers to seeing their rapists hauled into court.

Lack of solid evidence and a conviction in a court of law does not automatically mean that a person is innocent, or that people who say they have been raped should be summarily ignored.
posted by zarq at 10:07 AM on November 14 [5 favorites]


[One deleted. Captain l'escalier, please just skip this thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:09 AM on November 14


Re: the imbalance of power, Monica Lewinsky and #metoo: in recent years Lewinsky has started to come back into the public conversation. From her devastating TED talk it's clear that she's suffered grotesque sexual harassment every day of her life by members of the public as a result of her notoriety. I was a young adult during the Starr commission/Clinton impeachment years as well. From my recollection of that time and from what she shares in the TED talk, Bill Clinton treated her with far more consensual respect than Starr, any of the assholes in the impeachment proceedings, and about half of the human race since that time.
posted by Sublimity at 10:10 AM on November 14 [12 favorites]


Did you read the accusations of these women from the article?

There is literally nothing in the article that had not already said 25 years ago. These accusations have been aired (over and over again), not swept under the rug. Having been alive and even paying attention to politics to a greater or lesser degree for the entire period has, unfortunately, left me well versed in all of the various things Bill has done and been accused of.

Relatively minor was insensitive given that Willey was part of the discussion. My point simply was that some current politicians have admitted to things as bad or worse than Bill was ever accused of, yet rather than cleaning up the mess that currently exists we're talking about 25 year old allegations that have been aired in courts of law and of public opinion over and over again.
posted by wierdo at 10:12 AM on November 14 [6 favorites]


It's hard for me to disaggregate the accusations against Bill Clinton from the years-long Inquisition that Republicans engaged in against him. They wanted to get him for something--anything. If it wasn't the White House Travel Office, it was the White House's handling of FBI files. If it wasn't Whitewater, it was Paula Jones. If it wasn't Paula Jones, it was Monica Lewinsky. All of it was plainly in bad faith, especially so when you consider that the leader of the impeachment drive was a serial adulterer, followed by another serial adulterer, followed by a child sexual abuser. So while the fact of feminists rallying around Clinton at the time hurt their cause, it seems perverse to point to it as a singular failure.

Clearly, though, Democrats need to have a reckoning about Bill Clinton--and not just for his personal behavior. One reason they (we?) haven't up until now is that, as was famously said during the 1992 campaign, Bill and Hillary were a 2-for-1 deal. And from the moment Hillary announced her Senate candidacy in 2000 until a year ago last Thursday, everything in Democratic Party politics was shaped by the fact that Hillary was going to be president one day. Even Barack Obama's presidency, as momentous as it was, couldn't stop that. So it meant that everything from donors to policy agendas to staffing would need to accommodate the seeming inevitability of a second Clinton administration. That included ignoring or downplaying the accusations against Bill, but also the operations of the Clinton Foundation (which were never as nefarious as Republicans made them out of be, but still merited scrutiny) and the Clintons' position as two of the architects of the neoliberal world we all live in today.

But Hillary Clinton is not going to be president. And as terrible as it was for her to lose to Trump, it is giving Democrats the opportunity to reimagine what sort of politics they (we?) want to pursue. Maybe we don't have to keep politics within the confines of center-left and center-right, as Hillary argued in a recent interview. Maybe, as Alyssa Rosenberg wrote yesterday, we can demand a more consistent stance against sexual predation and not feel we're handicapping ourselves politically. We don't have to be defined by the Clintons anymore, and we don't have to accept the compromises they, rightly or wrongly, accepted.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:13 AM on November 14 [44 favorites]


Jean Edelstein wrote this piece back in the primaries, that I think adds a good perspective to the discussion - Hillary, Bill and me: on growing up in the shadow of Monica Lewinsky

It's important to remember in these discussions that not everyone was an adult (or alive) during the '92/'96 elections. Millennials are the largest voting block now; we were children during this time and the oldest millennials couldn't vote until 2000. As a tween girl in that era, it was horrible and traumatizing to witness/internalize all of that misogyny (especially if you yourself were a survivor), and now it's like we're being punished for it all over again - like we're being blamed for things adults did when we were children because we happen to vote for Democrats -- different Democrats! -- now that we too are adults. (As though the GOP was in any way providing a pro-women, anti-rape alternative in the 90s, or now.)

A large segment of current voters experienced the Clinton years as children, as young girls or boys trying to make sense of the world, not as calculated political operatives choosing sides for electoral benefit. I mean, hell yeah I'm mad about Bill Clinton, and he should fuck off forever. But what does "punishing" the Democratic Party look like? And why do I, and women like me, supposedly need to be punished? Because Gloria Steinem wrote an article in 1998 when I was in middle school? Fuck that.
posted by melissasaurus at 10:14 AM on November 14 [19 favorites]


Bill Clinton treated her with far more consensual respect than Starr, any of the assholes in the impeachment proceedings, and about half of the human race since that time.

Consensual respect? He was the President of the United States and she was an intern. The power imbalance alone voids consent.
posted by zarq at 10:20 AM on November 14 [22 favorites]


I haven't formed opinions about any allegations except Lewinsky's. President Clinton abused his power when he had sex with her. It's classic workplace harassment. She seems to have consented, perhaps with some enthusiasm, and she was not a minor, albeit young and an intern. It's shameful and wrong.

Men in power have a very strong tendency to abuse it by sexually harassing women. It's a primate dominance behavior. It's not excusable or acceptable. Really, men, you can evolve. There are men who do.

I can't begin to judge Hillary Clinton's choices, but I would really like to have a woman president. Yes, there are some women who abuse power and privilege, but it's rare.
posted by theora55 at 10:22 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Bill Clinton was one of the better presidents of the 20th century

Cases can be made against that as well, from a progressive perspective. He intentionally pushed the Democratic Party away from labor and the poor. His welfare reform and policies on crime did immense damage. He and Gingrich were working together to privatize Social Security, something the GOP can't accomplish on its own, when the scandal killed the momentum.
posted by Foosnark at 10:23 AM on November 14 [30 favorites]


Lewinsky was also a consenting adult and acted affirmatively to initiate their romance.
posted by Sublimity at 10:24 AM on November 14 [8 favorites]


zarq, you are entirely correct. My only quibble is that the reason rape reports unfold that way is precisely due to a lack of interest on the part of the police and prosecutors unless it's a slam dunk case.

That was decidedly not the case with Ken Starr and his investigation. He was as motivated as they come, to the point of wrongdoing. The accusations against Bill Clinton were not treated like any "run of the mill" (how disgusting such a concept exists) rape investigation.

The false equivalence being drawn is between Clinton and a bunch of people who have either admitted to assaulting women or whose alleged crimes have never been investigated. One of these things is not like the others.

All that said, I do completely and 100% agree that the way Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and the others were treated at the time they came forward was completely unacceptable, especially by today's standards. They were widely ridiculed, called liars, money grubbers, and more. That was way out of line, especially long before any facts were known. Thankfully, most of us are better than that today. (Fox News hosts excepted)
posted by wierdo at 10:26 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


"Donald Trump was pretty obviously sleazy from the start. But we were desperate for the Obama-Biden years to end. Trump had a broader appeal than Jeb or Kaisch had. Particularly with the white working class people still won’t shut up about, and the baby boomers. He had charisma, and he was electable."

Yeah - it's a pretty shitty argument no matter what names you use.


I never said it wasn't a shitty argument. In fact, that was the whole rest of my comment. However, it's a false equivalency to draw, because the Reagan-Bush years and policies were objectively terrible for the country and the world (especially compared to the Obama years). We were not cravenly trying to destroy a party based on hatred for women, gays, and minorities. We were trying to keep the world from fucking ending.
posted by rikschell at 10:28 AM on November 14 [6 favorites]


But what does "punishing" the Democratic Party look like?

The Party is not run by millennials. The Party is run by the old guard that protected Bill Clinton and continues to do so. Admitting that the guy they elected President and continue to put forth as one of the leaders and kingmakers of the Party is a creep would be a good start.

So would not reacting defensively when the subject comes up and spouting the ridiculous 'BUT THOSE OTHER GUYS DO IT SO JUST LEAVE BILLY ALONE' crap that happens whenever the subject comes up. Because I gotta say, it sounds really pathetic and downright offensive to this survivor's ears.
posted by zarq at 10:28 AM on November 14 [19 favorites]


There is literally nothing in the article that had not already said 25 years ago. These accusations have been aired (over and over again), not swept under the rug.

I sincerely don't recall any allegations of forced sex back in the day - the article linked above is making those claims.

I grant that this could be because I simply didn't see any articles from 1992 which implied forcible assault. But that actually makes another good point - the mass media was a lot less fractured back then. Media outlets that had slightly different takes on the story than the ones you got from CBS/NBC/ABC or the New York Times/Washington Post were a lot easier to dismiss as being "fringe exaggerations" or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:32 AM on November 14


Clinton got 43% of the vote, which would have been an embarrassing loss in any other election.

How many of Ross Perot's voters would've voted for Clinton had Perot not entered the race?


Clinton won 370 Electoral College votes in that election, and that's how the president and vice president are determined. Bush won 168 and Perot 0.
posted by wolpfack at 10:37 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


i am not comfortable with the idea that, despite a person who is an adult's feeling/statement that a given relationship was consensual, said relationship can be deemed nonconsensual because a power imbalance voids their ability to enter into a consensual relationship.

if lewinsky herself feels, in retrospect, that the relationship was not consensual, that is a different thing entirely. i have not heard that this is the case, but may have missed something.
posted by halation at 10:39 AM on November 14 [12 favorites]


EC, I remember Willey's account (and hers alone) always being of nonconsensual sex, but it has been a long time. I also remember there being more inconsistency in her story, but given the way things were back then, who knows whether the news reports reflected reality at all.

(Yes kids, in some ways the news was already shit by the early 90s, it just hadn't turned into a complete cesspool yet)
posted by wierdo at 10:41 AM on November 14


Clinton won 370 Electoral College votes in that election

I mean, that's pretty good, but it's certainly no 304.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:42 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


Oh, and zarq, I'm pretty sure most everyone decided Bill was a creep after Lewinsky. Consensual or not, it's creepy for a guy that age to be having sexual relations with a woman in her early 20s.

What has changed is that some people now seem to demand that people who have some problematic aspects of themselves must be shunned no matter how much good they do otherwise. As others have said, he isn't going to be President again, so what do we gain by relitigating this yet again? We all get to say "yes, men in power need to keep their dick in their pants?" I think we've all agreed on that one for a decade or two now, at least on the Democratic side of the aisle. How many have we drummed out for consensual sex now? I don't think it can be argued that today's party has a blind spot on this.
posted by wierdo at 10:48 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


What has changed is that some people now seem to demand that people who have some problematic aspects of themselves must be shunned no matter how much good they do otherwise.

Yes, if those 'problematic aspects' involve the abuse of women. You can't imagine the amount of damage it does to those of us who have suffered abuse to hear over and over 'oh well, he's a good guy otherwise - can't you just let this drop?' That applies even to people we otherwise admire and want to be one of the good guys. Bill Clinton is still being presented to us an elder statesman, who gets to stand on stage and opine about things such as women's rights. You're right I have an issue with him getting to do that. He doesn't have to go hide in a hole somewhere, but that doesn't mean get gets a pass just because his actions took place years ago and we'd all prefer not to think about that just now.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:58 AM on November 14 [37 favorites]


if lewinsky herself feels, in retrospect, that the relationship was not consensual, that is a different thing entirely. i have not heard that this is the case, but may have missed something.

It's sleazy on his part regardless, though, but more than that it doesn't particularly stand alone in his history.

My point simply was that some current politicians have admitted to things as bad or worse than Bill was ever accused of

This touches on a thorny thing. Morally I'd think it's better to admit - well, at least if you're repentant, I'm not sure who specifically you are referring to so they might not be - than to drag accusers through the mud. Yet the incentives seem to continue to favor aggressive denial and obfuscation until you can't get away with it.
posted by atoxyl at 11:04 AM on November 14


Why are people acting like just because this has been talked about for decades that anyone has done anything about it
posted by beerperson at 11:04 AM on November 14 [10 favorites]


i am not comfortable with the idea that, despite a person who is an adult's feeling/statement that a given relationship was consensual, said relationship can be deemed nonconsensual because a power imbalance voids their ability to enter into a consensual relationship.

if lewinsky herself feels, in retrospect, that the relationship was not consensual, that is a different thing entirely. i have not heard that this is the case, but may have missed something.


Consent and coercion:
Capacity to consent: Did the individual have the capacity, or legal ability, to consent?

Capacity to consent

A person’s capacity, or ability, to legally consent to sexual activity can be based on a number of factors, which often vary from state to state. In a criminal investigation, a state may use these factors to determine if a person who engaged in sexual activity had the capacity to consent. If not, the state may be able to charge the perpetrator with a crime. Examples of some factors that may contribute to someone’s capacity to consent include:

Age: Is the person at or above the age of consent for that state? Does the age difference between the perpetrator and victim affect the age of consent in that state?
Developmental disability: Does the person have a developmental disability or other form of mental incapacitation, such as a traumatic brain injury?
Intoxication: Was the person intoxicated? Different states have different definitions of intoxication, and in some states it matters whether you voluntarily or involuntarily became intoxicated.
Physical disability: Does the persona have a physical disability, incapacity, or other form of helplessness?
Relationship of victim/perpetrator: Was the alleged perpetrator in a position of authority, such as such as a teacher or correctional office?
Unconsciousness: Was the person sleeping, sedated, strangulated, or suffering from physical trauma?
Vulnerable adults: Is the person considered a vulnerable adult, such as an elderly or ill person? Is this adult dependent on others for care?


For example: children who have sex with their teachers or any other adult do not have the capacity to consent. This is why if a 30+ year old Roy Moore hypothetically had sexual relations with a 14 year old, the 14 year old could not give consent. Even if they enjoyed it or do not believe they were coerced. The same applies to adults in similar situations, where there is a very large power imbalance. With adults, it's a question of whether they could or could not make a choice to or not to have sex -- whether they had the freedom to do so without coercion.
posted by zarq at 11:07 AM on November 14 [7 favorites]


i am familiar with the concepts you link above, yes. i am still uncomfortable with the fact that lewinsky never seems to be allowed any power over her own narrative, and probably never will be.
posted by halation at 11:09 AM on November 14 [20 favorites]


One other thing that I think draws a line between Clinton and Moore is the hypocrisy. And that Moore should have been unelectable before these allegations came out - he’s awful.
posted by double bubble at 11:09 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


What has changed is that some people now seem to demand that people who have some problematic aspects of themselves must be shunned no matter how much good they do otherwise.

We can call this the Weinstein defense: 'Sure, he raped some women and sexually assaulted some others, but he makes spectacular movies, so let's not do anything drastic like shun the guy.'

As others have said, he isn't going to be President again, so what do we gain by relitigating this yet again?

I answered this above, at length.

I don't think it can be argued that today's party has a blind spot on this.

And yet, here we are. With several people in this thread and the essay in question arguing that yes, they do.
posted by zarq at 11:11 AM on November 14 [14 favorites]


zarq, how can you say the party has a blind spot when (to my knowledge) every officeholder in the past decade or so who has been publicly accused of having any sort of sexual relationship with someone not their wife, much less sexual harassment or abuse has been kicked out? Spitzer got drummed out because he hired call girls.

If you want to argue that there was once a blind spot, that's fine. I'll even agree with you. But to argue that there is a blind spot because we weren't talking about a guy who will never again hold public office seems a bridge too far.
posted by wierdo at 11:26 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


But what is the desired outcome here?

I can't comment on Flanagan's motives, but I don't think that making sexual predation by public figures known is ever not in the public interest. The guy is still out there on the speaking circuit, when he's not broing down with the other members of the ex-presidents' club. Sure, he's a B-lister compared to when he was actually living at 1600 Pennsylvania, but he's hardly a nobody, even today.

Beyond that, I think it's more evidence that sexual misconduct is not the exclusive province of a particular party; it seems to happen almost universally as soon as there's an opportunity for people to get away with it. The problem is bigger than any single person, even if they're President (current or former). Although it certainly shows a sobering lack of progress to have two Presidents, more than a decade apart, prove to have been creepy even prior to being elected; a, um, lack of progress, to say the least.

It would be shortsighted to tell people what amounts to "never mind about Clinton, we're focusing on Trump (or Moore, or whomever)", just as it would be idiotic to accept "well, Clinton did it too" as a defense of Trump or Moore. That's not really the point.

Maybe I'm a pessimist, but I think you have to basically assume, in designing the structures that underpin society, that almost anyone could be a predator, given the right opportunity to develop the necessary feelings of entitlement and combine them with the consequence-free opportunities. Sure, some people can be given the opportunity and won't ever develop those feelings of entitlement, but I've become unconvinced that there's a "predator profile" that we can somehow test for, and give some people the Good Housekeeping Seal before sending them off to the Senate or White House or Hollywood or wherever. That's not to say that the people who perpetrated crimes against others aren't both morally and legally culpable, or that they shouldn't be both shunned for the moral culpability and punished for the legal one. But that's retributive justice, not prevention. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, we just can't stop there.)

Ultimately, there needs to be changes that just flat-out make it harder to get away with predatory behavior. Not decades after it happens, but in the short run. That's how you modify behavior; the certainty of being caught is a vastly more powerful deterrent than the punishment. We're a long way from that right now, obviously, and I'm not even confident we're moving in the right direction. But shaping those changes require a recognition of the scope of the problem, and not viewing it as a political issue or weapon to be wielded in the service of other ends.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:29 AM on November 14 [10 favorites]


As my wife said when Bill Clinton spoke at the 2016 Democratic convention, “He yadda yadda’d the most important parts.”
posted by Big Al 8000 at 11:35 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Spitzer got drummed out because he hired call girls.

No one in the party "drummed him out." Spitzer resigned because he had paid $80,000+ while he was Attorney General and Governor to have sex with prostitutes across state lines. He violated federal law -- the Patriot and Bank Secrecy Acts. The latter was enacted to prevent money laundering. He framed it as a "personal failing," but the fact remains that he broke two federal laws. He later ran for NYC Comptroller as a Democrat in 2013.

But to argue that there is a blind spot because we weren't talking about a guy who will never again hold public office seems a bridge too far.

I have specifically been talking about Bill Clinton.

Who is still a face of the party. Still a fundraiser for the party. Still considered a top Democrat and leader by his own party. A party which will never, ever address any of the accusations made against him because he's one of their own and the political fallout from having an ex-President accused in the public eye would be considerable.

What message does that send to those who have been raped, sexually assaulted or abused about coming forward? So many people here have pointed to Trump as an example of someone who was accused of sexual assault but reached the oval office with the complicity of his political party. So did Clinton. It is wrong to ignore that. It sends the wrong message to survivors and also to potential rapists and abusers that a victim coming forward will not be believed if the rapist doesn't outright admit to their crimes. It sends the wrong message to believe some victims but not others. Because you don't have "solid evidence." Which rarely exists in these cases.
posted by zarq at 11:47 AM on November 14 [15 favorites]


Also, I’m reminded of Rachel Maddow’s interview with Ezra Klein from June of last year. When asked to state an unpopular thing that she believes, she went with “Bill Clinton should have lost the presidency when the truth about Monica Lewinsky came to light.”
posted by Big Al 8000 at 11:47 AM on November 14 [14 favorites]


I remember spending a lot of the early 90s wanting to punch Bill in the face whenever I saw him on TV and saying he should be impeached for perjuring himself. I'm still mad at my fellow liberals for defending him at that point. What did we gain? We could've given Gore a better shot at 2000, and possibly avoided the whole stupid Iraq debacle. People were acting like this was just some consensual affair and we should look the other way, but fuck that, the allegations were serious.

I still want to know more about Eileen Wellstone for that matter.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:50 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


The feeling I had at the time was that these accusations were just another part of the Clinton hate machine the Republicans had unleashed because how dare a Democrat be elected president. There was so much guff in the air that these were lost in the flood of Travelgate and murder suicides done by Hillary Clinton herself.

The next time I paid attention was during the GOP's attempted impeachment using Clinton's affair with Lewinski and it all came across as hypocritical mumbu jumbo from people who had done much worse. Especially since all that ultimately stuck was that Clinton and Lewinski had had a consentual affair; the general opinion in my circles was that all this was something the Clintons had to work out themselves and none of our business.

It's that context that led Clinton get away with it in a way he wouldn't have had the allegations come out today, even considering that despite all the horrors we are slightly more informed about sexual assault and slightly more inclined to actually believe victims. Back then they felt like yet more GOP tall tales, though in hindsight I'm somewhat embarassed about how naive I was not to believe them.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:53 AM on November 14 [12 favorites]


i am familiar with the concepts you link above, yes. i am still uncomfortable with the fact that lewinsky never seems to be allowed any power over her own narrative, and probably never will be.

I think it's perfectly possible that Lewinsky initated and completely consented to her affair with Bill Clinton and that the relationship in question was still exploitative and wrong from Bill's side.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:08 PM on November 14 [25 favorites]


Regardless of what crimes or sins the Clintons committed, it's time for them to withdraw from a leadership role for a number of reasons.

1) Due to their problematic history, they can't forcefully represent the principles of the modern Democratic Party. That's true regarding women's rights, economic, racial and criminal justice and transparency in government, among other things Mincing words over whether or not Clinton committed rape or not is interfering with the national conversation regarding consent and respect for victims.

2) Their oversized presence is crowding out funding and attention that should be going toward finding the next generation's leadership. Even if they were saints, which they're not, but even if they were, it's time to find some new saints. We should have dozens of qualified candidates for the Presidency, not the old dinosaurs. Plus, dynastic leadership is essentially anti-republican.

3) In both the Democratic and Republican party there are large numbers of people are "Never Clinton" country. They have to hurdle that just to get to square one; why continue to handicap ourselves?
posted by xigxag at 12:19 PM on November 14 [20 favorites]


I remember when the whole Clinton scandal was going down. I always thought that there was something gross about a married man cheating on his wife with a much-younger intern, and that there was something wrong about the balance of power in that relationship. Could an intern really have said "no" to the President of the United States and not put her career in jeopardy?

But oh, how I remember the appeal to sophistication (is that a logical fallacy?) that anyone who wasn't solidly on Clinton's side was a hick and a puritan and an Ugly American, and how "Europe" was ashamed of us (you know these were the kind of people who thought that "Europe" was a country, not a continent), and would trot out endless examples of men who openly flaunted mistresses and yet were Good Men Who Were Good Leaders. Side with your beleaguered President, or else you were politically suspect.

Yes, the accusations and impeachment were drummed up by fanatic followers of Newt Gingrich et al, who were emphatically not doing it out of the kindness of their feminist hearts. Newt Gingrich, after all, was the one who asked for a divorce when his wife was in the hospital recovering from cancer to marry Wife #3. Dennis Hastert was a child molester. They were all about "Family Values!" for thee but not for me.

I know that part of the issue was that Bill Clinton was seen as our last best hope at the time - a Southern good ol' boy, not an effete urban East Coaster who would put Real 'Murkins' noses out of joint. Swing voters were still around back in that day, and Democrats were desperate to get back some of the Democrats for Nixon and Reagan Democrats who had defected to the Republicans or Ross Perot. Democrats were like abuse victims who said "At least he's not that bad."

Another plus for Clinton was the economy, which was going gangbusters, and the peace dividend. Gone were the 80's fears of nuclear war, and there really were jobs for anyone who wanted one, even in most parts of the Rust Belt. People were happy in a way they are not now and Democrats did not want to upset that apple cart.

Looking back, I think women were thrown under the bus in a big way, and the idea that Clinton was corrupt and amoral was part of what led to Bush's win (or "win") in 2000.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:24 PM on November 14 [9 favorites]


and that the relationship in question was still exploitative and wrong from Bill's side.

i would never argue otherwise, and he absolutely should not have pursued or engaged in a relationship given the circumstances.
posted by halation at 12:31 PM on November 14


If the party can learn anything from Bill Clinton, it's that if you look the other way or brush shit off for one of your guys, the other side will then spend the next several decades playing whatabout every time one of their guys does something even remotely similar. It doesn't matter if Clinton was 1 out of 1000 Democratic sexual assaulters who got to skate and all the rest got censured/shunned. As long as there's one who got a pass, Republicans have a cudgel. It's not fair, but it's reality. If nothing else can convince the party to never let that happen again, such as, say, basic human decency, at least let the monumental and demonstrable political cost direct the decisions being made.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:45 PM on November 14 [8 favorites]


Looking back, I think women were thrown under the bus in a big way, and the idea that Clinton was corrupt and amoral was part of what led to Bush's win (or "win") in 2000.

This is probably true. People were fatigued by the endless Clinton scandals in 2000, and I think it played into the minds older voters, especially independents, in 2016. Last year was a "change" election, and Hillary Clinton is the ultimate Washington insider, one who came with her own baggage and missteps.

As for Bill Clinton, I believe he was a serial sexual harasser and that he is due a reckoning for his misdeeds. I think that he should retire from politics, resign from any leadership role in the Democratic Party and basically leave the spotlight permanently. I also think that Democratic Party leadership should demand this -- after all, they claim to be the voice of equality for women, but they need to clean their own house and rid themselves of anyone who denies women (or men) the personal security of not being sexually abused.
posted by wolpfack at 12:49 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


I think another big part of Clinton getting a pass for the Lewinsky thing is that she did not willingly to come forward to accuse him - but was taped talking about it privately without her knowledge or consent.

It was easy enough to see her as more the victim of a politicized media shitstorm than of Bill being a sleazy creep.

I mean, the reality is both. And that really, really sucks.
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:54 PM on November 14 [8 favorites]


[some deleted, do not make this about Hillary 2016 or about how she should have dumped him or whatever.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:54 PM on November 14 [4 favorites]


Here's a theory: Maybe the reason Kenneth Starr didn't pursue older accusations against Clinton was because MANY Republicans were guilty of similar - or worse - offenses, and he feared opening THAT can of worms. So something that distilled down to "lied about it under oath" was something he could safely nail him with.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:57 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


On CNN right now:
'Nothing about it felt right': More than 50 people describe sexual harassment on Capitol Hill

With enraging quotes like this:

If a congressional aide wants to file a formal complaint with the OOC, they must first engage in 30 days of counseling. After 30 days, they can choose to go into mediation with a representative of the congressional office that they are lodging a complaint against, which can last at least another 30 days. Then, the accuser must wait an additional 30 days before they can officially file a complaint and pursue a hearing either with the OOC or the Federal District Court.

posted by 445supermag at 12:58 PM on November 14 [9 favorites]


I think another big part of Clinton getting a pass for the Lewinsky thing is that she did not willingly to come forward to accuse him - but was taped talking about it privately without her knowledge or consent.

Yes, this was true. I still think Linda Tripp was an awful person to betray her trusting young friend (or "friend"), Monica Lewinsky, like that. Lewinsky was just used as a pawn and then discarded, not only by Bill Clinton. My heart breaks for her that she was never able to get her career back on track.

This is probably another reason why victims, at least of the rich and powerful, don't come forward - not just not being believed, not just slut-shaming, but fear of being pounced upon and manipulated by people who have no interest in actual justice for actual victims, but want a pawn and have an axe to grind.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:05 PM on November 14 [22 favorites]


Here's a theory: Maybe the reason Kenneth Starr didn't pursue older accusations against Clinton was because MANY Republicans were guilty of similar - or worse - offenses, and he feared opening THAT can of worms.

Also, we have different standards of evidence for convicting people for sexual assault than we did in the mid 90s.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:36 PM on November 14


I... okay. Here is a thing that I have been wrestling with, and I genuinely don't know if it's a valid point or just me not wanting to have to consign men whose work I admire to the garbage-person pile:

Does it matter if they stopped? Does it matter if they changed?

Because I'm starting to feel uncomfortable with the way that we're equating someone like Bill Clinton with lifelong, unrepentant serial predators, who never showed the slightest sign, ever, of regretting their actions and kept on creepin' every time they were presented with an opportunity. I don't think that's fair, but I'm also not sure if I'm right about that.

Is there any evidence of Bill harassing women after his presidency? I'm genuinely asking-- I've never seen any, but I could have missed it. And if there isn't-- if he really did stop-- should that factor into how we evaluate him? Does it matter if he stopped because just couldn't get away with it anymore? Does it matter if he stopped because he understood that what he'd done was wrong? Does the work he's done since then balance the scale, in any meaningful way?

this comment brought to you by my complicated feelings about stuff David Bowie did in the 70s, probably
posted by nonasuch at 1:38 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


But what is the desired outcome here?

Just from a utilitarian approach to ethics, healing the obvious divide within the left would be a good outcome. And beyond consequentialism, aren't we "SJWs"? Isn't our thing to do what's right even if inconvenient?

I was about ten years old when Bill Clinton became president (and I lived in another country). I voted for Hillary despite Bill (and because I realized that people were unfairly blaming her for his actions more than they would ever hold him accountable). It is really obvious to me that Bill Clinton is a total pig and a sexual predator. And it really hurts that people on my side, lefties that I like and respect, are using the same exact arguments republicans use:

-It happened too long ago!
-We've been talking about this forever, we need to get over it!**
-These accusations aren't credible!
-It was just a minor thing!
-It was a political attack!
-Why now?

This whole thing feels like that dynamic where loyalty trumps ethics. Like I am expected to stfu and think of the greater good. This is not an unusual situation to me (sadly), but I thought that for democrats the greater good was for everyone, in particular minorities.

I don't know, I would not be surprised if I heard these excuses in another party, or a toxic family, or an enabling church; but we're supposed to be better.

** I'm particularly annoyed by this argument. The fact that we have been talking about it forever is not a good thing. BC is as unaffected by this as he ever was. It's very telling that we have been talking about it for so long and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED.
posted by Tarumba at 1:54 PM on November 14 [21 favorites]


"Does the work he's done since then balance the scale, in any meaningful way?"

I think rehabilitation is definitely a good outcome, but it's not possible without acknowledgement of wrongdoing. For one, it doesn't look to me like Bill feels any remorse whatsoever, because for decades it has been business as usual, nothing to see here.

What's more, we owe it to his victims to not gloss over this. We have failed them so far.

In the end, I think I know what you mean. I don't think we should crucify people who commit crimes or behave unethically. But there is a vast spectrum of possibilities between crucifixion and participating in revisionism.

And re: David Bowie and the countless other people who have done awful shit and produced good art or contributed to society in some other way, I think we would collectively benefit from not seeing everyone as 100% good or evil Disney characters. The more we put people on pedestals, the more we enable them. And we all have the potential for corruption.
posted by Tarumba at 2:35 PM on November 14 [7 favorites]


Does it matter if they stopped? Does it matter if they changed? I think it does, although I know it's hard to measure and that it may never matter to the people they harmed. And I certainly don't know if Mr Clinton has examined his behavior, has recognized it for what it was, regrets it or has changed. I hope he has stopped harming women but I have nothing to go on. But no, random good work does indicate rehabilitation. Specific good work around the harassment and assault of women and the manipulation of power imbalances between men and women does,

So I do think it matters if individual men change. But I believe in rehabilitation or I would not work in court reform; I would not make an effort to change myself or my community.

This is what I think "Of course you've all done it. Each of you. Even if it was just laughing at a gross misogynist joke with your mates when you were fourteen, even if it made you feel uncomfortable to laugh and not say 'dude, that's not cool.' What separates the good among you from the unsafe among you is the ability to one day stop going along. To one day recognize that you're not 'pushing a boundary', you're harming someone. To admit that there was no gray area, you assaulted that person. And stop doing it and start calling other men out when they do it."

So yes, I believe that it matters if men change, even if just in their own hearts and own actions, but even more in the way they respond to the men around them and the shitty things those men do to women.
posted by crush at 2:51 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Tarumba, it is categorically false that "nothing happened." For one, the man was impeached. That the consequences you would prefer to see were not applied does not mean there were none.
posted by wierdo at 2:58 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


There's a reason i chose the word "acknowledge" earlier when talking about this. People are asking what to do now - but we can't condemn, we can't imprison (at least not now). But we also can't continue to ignore. Because the GOP is calling us on ignoring this, with good reason.

Instead, acknowledging his misdeeds internally gives the Dems a chance to confront and move past its own short-sightedness. And it would also cut off some of the GOP critique at the knees -

"Bill was a sleaze, and you supported him!"

"You know, you're right. And that was a mistake. We're trying to do better now, though - none of the women he was involved with are pressing charges at the moment, though- if they do in the future, we'll be siding with them. But speaking of that - can you explain why so many in the GOP are shunning Roy Moore's accusers? We learned it was bad to do that to Bill's accusers, you know..."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:58 PM on November 14 [9 favorites]


Does it matter if they stopped? Does it matter if they changed?

Because I'm starting to feel uncomfortable with the way that we're equating someone like Bill Clinton with lifelong, unrepentant serial predators, who never showed the slightest sign, ever, of regretting their actions and kept on creepin' every time they were presented with an opportunity. I don't think that's fair, but I'm also not sure if I'm right about that.


Where is the evidence that Bill Clinton ever acknowledged the harm he inflicted on women and changed his ways? Simply not assaulting women is not evidence of the change in heart you’re looking for.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 4:03 PM on November 14 [11 favorites]


Tarumba, it is categorically false that "nothing happened." For one, the man was impeached.

He was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, not for sexual misconduct.
posted by Tarumba at 4:15 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Victims of rape and sexual assault deserve better than "Sorry, but this isn't a good time. Come back during a slow news cycle" or "But hasn't Hillary Clinton been through enough".

Slow clap. Perhaps this spiritual purge- the vast majority of men being accused have been allowed to escape some level of criticism because they were prolific donors to progressive causes- will allow Democrats to reconsider how far dogma has allowed them to ignore sins of their beloved leaders. Republicans are spared, to some extent, by the lack of moralizing on this issue. Look at Berlusconi. He will win again in 2018 because he is beloved for being open about his faults.

Maybe once we understand that most successful politicians are sociopaths we will begin to understand why our country is so sick.
posted by NeoRothbardian at 5:32 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


Weirdo, I forgot to pay for beer last week.

When I went back to pay for it next day, the girl at the counter had a hard time understanding what I was trying to do. I needed to make it right, even though it is a large company, because I would expect them to believe me if I told them I forgot to bring an item home.
posted by NeoRothbardian at 5:52 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


"You know, you're right. And that was a mistake. We're trying to do better now, though - none of the women he was involved with are pressing charges at the moment, though- if they do in the future, we'll be siding with them. But speaking of that - can you explain why so many in the GOP are shunning Roy Moore's accusers? We learned it was bad to do that to Bill's accusers, you know..."

Yeah, I'm *almost* in favor of this approach... Right up until the end. Look, the GOP is *well* aware right now that their possible defense of Moore will be used against them politically in the future (good!), they are aware of the political kryptonite that he is.

But, bringing him up in a conversation about Bill is just whataboutism. It would be changing the subject to the GOPs problem with the issue. And honestly, while the GOP reaction to Moore isn't 100% appropriate, it sure seems better than the democrat's reaction to Bill's accusations back in the day. Again, that might be political posturing, and a realization that such defenses *will* be used against them in reelection efforts... But good.

I don't want to derail this conversation about talking about Moore though; that's a separate discussion.

Bill has been brought up to me recently be a conservative... And my answer is pretty straightforward - 'the democrats were wrong, and there is no excuse for that. Bill shouldn't have any part of the party, and that's a disgrace to everyone.' I didn't bring up the GOP's own failings in my response, and I won't in the future.

Don't get me wrong, I'll bring up the GOPs problem on that subject on its own matter, in a different conversation, but I won't engage in whataboutism. It looks shitty when 'they' do it.
posted by el io at 5:56 PM on November 14 [4 favorites]


I'm fine with excommunicating Bill Clinton from the Democratic Party. Broaddick's affidavit denying her earlier story aside, he's a serial harasser and abuser of women who should be scorned by the Party establishment. Period. I would have said the same thing about Bill as FGOTUS, and demanded that he step aside and retire from public life. It's not that hard.
posted by xyzzy at 6:26 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Everyone who participated in destroying Monica Lewinsky's life, and the lives of these other women, should be out. It's time to clean house.
posted by lalex at 6:31 PM on November 14 [7 favorites]


It's that we normalized this predation in politics, that instead of "you should never do that" it's one giant whataboutism now.

Oh come on. This predation in politics was normalized long before Clinton. I'd call Clinton notable because people actually paid attention beyond just calling all the women sluts and immediately moving on. Even if the people who purported to care were a bunch of craven hypocrites pushing the allegations for entirely political reasons--it was still a lot more acknowledgement than, say, spending decades raping an enslaved woman while promising to free her children and then totally going back on all of that.

Anywho . . .

I still reread Lewinsky's Vanity Fair profile from time to time because it's such a stark reminder of how decades later this major political event of my childhood was skewed by the shit, sexist coverage. I was 15 when Clinton left office, which is young, but there's been many years between then and now that I just never thought about the incident. When I read it, I suddenly looked at her situation from the same perspective I'd looked at every other similar situation except hers. A powerful man chased after his own intern, a woman fresh out of college, incredibly smart, and nearly 30 years his junior, and after it came to light her life was destroyed.

Which is to say . . . Bill is scum and whenever I think about it I get angry and my heart breaks for Lewinsky.

But God, the identity of the author alone indicates the timing here is pretty obviously calibrated to start another battle in the unending Democratic-2016-Primaries proxy war. I wish it had come out years ago. Both for my selfish "but mah politics" reasons, and because once again, especially in this environment, what should be a serious conversation about coercion, abuse, and the role of power is distorted by being intertwined with existing highly-polarized political fights. It's all crap.
posted by schroedinger at 6:42 PM on November 14 [13 favorites]


If Bill had sat out the campaign entirely, he would have been excoriated for not supporting his wife. Either way he's going to get shit from people, it being impossible to make everyone happy.

The entire topic is whataboutism brought up to distract from the misconduct of people actually in or running for office. Worse, absent any indication his victims have changed their minds and want people talking about them again, it's forcing them to relive their trauma yet again for zero gain.
posted by wierdo at 6:49 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


The entire topic is whataboutism brought up to distract from the misconduct of people actually in or running for office.

No, it is not.
posted by lalex at 6:58 PM on November 14 [11 favorites]


The entire topic is whataboutism brought up to distract from the misconduct of people actually in or running for office.

No, it is not. This has been covered extensively up thread in multiple comments.
posted by zarq at 7:11 PM on November 14 [4 favorites]


445supermag

That deserves another thread.
posted by NeoRothbardian at 7:12 PM on November 14


Tarumba

It’s good to recapitulate. Our leaders are generally sociopaths. Understand that and politics make much more sense.
posted by NeoRothbardian at 7:20 PM on November 14


I resisted having this conversation, because any conservative claiming they care about rape culture is bullshit. But, yes: Clinton's behavior was unacceptable, and we are not capitulating to Republican assholery to say so. I am now working on how best to phrase this during the inevitable Thanksgiving bullshit... acknowledge Clinton's crimes while still refusing to let them excuse Republican crimes.
posted by emjaybee at 7:34 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Instead, acknowledging his misdeeds internally gives the Dems a chance to confront and move past its own short-sightedness. And it would also cut off some of the GOP critique at the knees -

No, no, no it won't. Have we forgotten when there's nothing to critique someone with, that the GOP will just totally make shit up!? Have we forgotten the birth certificate shit? Pizzagate? Look, if you wanna kick Bill Clinton out of the Party because it's the right thing to do, that's great. BUT, please, don't do it on some misguided belief that the GOP will make nice.
posted by FJT at 7:35 PM on November 14 [18 favorites]


Yeah, I'm *almost* in favor of this approach... Right up until the end. Look, the GOP is *well* aware right now that their possible defense of Moore will be used against them politically in the future (good!), they are aware of the political kryptonite that he is.

But, bringing him up in a conversation about Bill is just whataboutism. It would be changing the subject to the GOPs problem with the issue.


In my experience, Bill Clinton being introduced into a conversation with a member of the conservative populace is whataboutism already. I've only seen them bring his misdeeds up as a "oh yeah, look at Bill Clinton" retort in a discussion about Roy Moore or Donald Trump or...So my approach would re-direct back to the topic at hand as it is.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:28 PM on November 14


Just from a utilitarian approach to ethics, healing the obvious divide within the left would be a good outcome.

The divide in the left is not over sexual harassment and predation, and relitigating Bill Clinton's sexual history will not heal that divide -- as seen in this very thread.

That, of course, is why anti-feminist author Caitlin Flanagan wrote this article, and why Republicans are suddenly incensed about Bill Clinton's behavior again, 17 years after he left office.

We can discuss the sordidness of Bill Clinton's behavior in detail on December 15th, what's the hurry? For now, I think the best response is "Yeah, he's disgusting too and that sucked, but he's not in power or up for any elections now." Roy Moore's behavior needs focus right now because voters need to make a decision on him within the month.
posted by msalt at 8:30 PM on November 14 [8 favorites]


Caitlin Flanagan sucks, but this is something that liberals and Democrats like Chris Hayes have brought up recently, before her piece was published. I know I struggle with it.

We can discuss the sordidness of Bill Clinton's behavior in detail on December 15th, what's the hurry?

Bill's record was briefly mentioned in 2016 election threads and it was argued that, with Hillary's election coming up, it wasn't the time to talk about it. That's fair. But there are always elections. There are ~10 special state legislature seats, and the congressional election in PA-18, up in the first 3 months of 2018. When will it be appropriate to talk about this?
posted by lalex at 8:55 PM on November 14 [12 favorites]


That Chris Hayes tweet has a link to this Buzzfeed interview with Juanita that's worth reading.

"Let's not talk about this now, the time isn't right" Rarely seems appropriate for me.

I've spent over 20 years ignoring these allegations - it hasn't made me a better person. I started thinking about the allegations against Bill a few weeks ago, as #metoo was trending, and the avalanche of revelations started. Why did I believe the people who were sharing these stories now, but had dismissed the allegations against Bill? I didn't have a good answer for it.

Someone asked above 'what can we do about it', and I had a slew of answers of what I would like to see (essentially treat Bill C the way we treat the other Bill C), but at the end of the day, that's not what I need. For me, I need to honestly answer 'that guy can burn in hell' the same way that I answer the question about Cosby.

Because if I didn't take this stance, and instead gave Bill Clinton the 'benefit of the doubt', then how am I any different than people that give Moore the 'benefit of the doubt'. Oh, Moore's politics are awful - yes they are, but if we are willing to elect (or defend) rapist politicians because their politics align with ours, then what the hell does that say about us?

The fact that both parties are willing to defend on partisan grounds rapists and sexual offenders based on their political views, in my mind is exhibit A that this indeed is a rape culture. And rape culture always has been bipartisan.
posted by el io at 9:51 PM on November 14 [9 favorites]


How many of Ross Perot's voters would've voted for Clinton had Perot not entered the race?

Clinton probably still would have won. I'm not sure if I believe that article's assertion that only Ohio would have flipped, but even if you say Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Tennessee — even if they all flip Clinton would still win 278-260.
posted by fleacircus at 12:16 AM on November 15 [1 favorite]


Bill's record was briefly mentioned in 2016 election threads and it was argued that, with Hillary's election coming up, it wasn't the time to talk about it. That's fair. But there are always elections. There are ~10 special state legislature seats, and the congressional election in PA-18, up in the first 3 months of 2018. When will it be appropriate to talk about this?

It was appropriate to talk about this through all of history before January 1, 2016, and then again from November 10, 2016 through a week ago. And you know what? People DID talk about it, at great length.

A special prosecutor with an extreme partisan bias and an unlimited budget investigated Clinton for years, and could not find anything to charge him with other than lying when he denied the affair with Lewinsky. All of this was discussed in great detail during all of those years, culminating in a 453-page public report that you can read for free right now.

"It's never a good time" is a disingenuous and naive stance 7 days after allegations emerged against Moore, when Republicans are clearly trying to muddy the waters before a crucial election in 4 weeks. Especially since the allegations against Moore are qualitatively much worse. No one accused Clinton of preying on underage women, not even the people who said he killed 82 people.
posted by msalt at 12:54 AM on November 15 [8 favorites]


Starr found Broaddrick’s rape claims inconclusive — the statute of limitations on them had passed decades before — and didn’t include them in the report, although he allowed Republicans to hear them - From the Buzzfeed article. Her name isn't in the report. There are plenty of other sexual predators that have gotten away with their crimes because the statue of limitations has expired.

The political battle in regards to Moore will be brutal and involve a whole lot of unethical maneuvering (it already has, and will continue to; people impersonating the Washington Post are part of the latest drama), and indeed they have brought this up as a 'defense' (or distraction, or whataboutism). The voters of Alabama will ultimately determine Moore's fate. I hope they make the right decision. I would like to hope that even the people that vote for him won't do so because they think that Bill Clinton also engaged in rape, so Moore's rape is okay. Personally I think they'll have to engage in some serious mental gymnastics to be okay with him as a candidate. There is an open thread regarding Moore.

Yes, Republican people talked about Clinton's misdeeds all the time. Republicans have had this as a discussion point for a very long time. But until the last few weeks of my life (before the Moore stuff broke), I hadn't had a discussion with a liberal/progressive/democrats about this. That's on me, certainly; but the fact that Bill Clinton is still welcomed within the party shows that if there has been a discussion it concluded in a simple disbelief of the accusers.
posted by el io at 2:56 AM on November 15 [1 favorite]


Sexual Harassment in Washington DC is Rampant: The Powerful Predators on Capitol Hill - "Why women aren't speaking up about sexual harassment in Washington."
The sexual-harassment revolution is coming more slowly to Washington. Even the four female lawmakers who recently told the Associated Press of sexual harassment they faced from their male co-workers didn’t feel comfortable sharing the names of their harassers. “I’m not sure women in D.C. would be rewarded for their bravery [if they came forward], it’s just a different business,” Ellen says. “The thing about this town is that everyone is connected. The people who get ahead keep the peace and angle everything to their advantage.”

Add to that the tribal nature of politics: Most aides are terrified of doing anything that might bring bad press for their boss, or their side. “There’s an anti-snitch sorta thing — you don’t air your dirty laundry,” says Anne Gregory Teicher, a Democratic campaign manager. “It gives the other side power.”
also btw...
-The Politics of Sex Abuse in Sacred Hierarchies: a Comparative Study of the Catholic Church and the Military in the United States
-Tariq Ramadan, a star of Europe's Muslim intelligentsia, confronts accusations of rape
-Bikram yoga guru seeks bankruptcy in wake of harassment claims
-Did Gandhi really sleep with young teenagers to test his chastity?
posted by kliuless at 6:39 AM on November 15 [5 favorites]


From a month ago: The Clinton Double Standard
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:40 AM on November 15 [3 favorites]


Matthew Yglesias, Vox: Bill Clinton Should Have Resigned:
The wrongdoing at issue was never just a private matter for the Clinton family; it was a high-profile exemplar of a widespread social problem: men’s abuse of workplace power for sexual gain.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:44 AM on November 15 [2 favorites]


When will it be appropriate to talk about this?

It's always appropriate.

We're adults. Which means that in theory we can be mature enough to be able to discuss the fact that someone who became the most powerful person in the hemisphere and possibly the entire world got away with taking advantage of the protection afforded to him as a public figure on multiple occasions.

We should be mature enough to do so without making excuses. We should also be intelligent enough to put it in proper context while being respectful to victims. To discuss what happened and what did not and what we can and cannot confirm without pointing fingers at other people who are "worse threats" or proclaiming that it's not a good time.

"Well, we can't talk about it now because of [reasons]."

There's always an excuse.

It's never a "good time" for people to be forced to defend their sacred cows. The problem is that by trying to shut down conversation, they provide the same kinds of protection which allow predators to abuse others in the first place. Secrecy, silence and intimidation. Sowing doubt. Etc., etc.
posted by zarq at 8:05 AM on November 15 [10 favorites]


The Politics of Sex Abuse in Sacred Hierarchies article linked above by kliuless is worth reading. It's pretty clear that to a lot of people, political parties are a sort of sacred hierarchy, and that's dangerous as hell.

The moment you start sweeping sexual abuse allegations under the rug because you're afraid "the other side" will use them, you're enabling that behavior within the community. Ultimately the people who get hurt aren't "the other side", it's people within your own community, because the problem doesn't get rooted out and fixed structurally.

When the Church transferred pedo priests around to avoid scrutiny and, in their view, protect the institution from external threats, the people who ended up getting hurt were—perversely, but unsurprisingly—members of the Church community. When the Air Force covered up sexual harassment, ostensibly to avoid embarrassment to the service in general, the people who ended up getting hurt were loyal USAF personnel who were dedicated to the mission and wanted to be there. This pattern is repeated over and over whenever someone makes the decision to ignore misbehavior internally because of perceived external competition.

Setting aside the obvious fact that it's just wrong to downplay misbehavior by your own team because of some external point-scoring game with The Enemy (and really the discussion should end there, just because of the obviously dark road that argument leads down, in terms of what it allows you to justify), it's objectively counterproductive in the long run. Refusing to air your dirty laundry just means you're living in filth that much longer.

There's never a good time, there's always somebody who's going to use your organization's bad press to their advantage, and there's always going to be someone doing worse stuff that you can point to. None of those things should be barriers to self-reflection within an organization, whether religious, military, commercial, whatever.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:44 AM on November 15 [11 favorites]


It was appropriate to talk about this through all of history before January 1, 2016, and then again from November 10, 2016 through a week ago.

Are you even serious with this? Luckily you're not in charge of the "when people can talk about Bill Clinton" schedule, and I'd suggest if you want to continue telling people it's bad or dumb to talk about it, you step out of the thread devoted to talking about it.
posted by lalex at 8:45 AM on November 15 [4 favorites]


I think you've misread msalt's comment.
posted by diziet at 9:09 AM on November 15 [3 favorites]


It's a shame that the FPP was this disingenuous Flanagan bullshit that largely poisoned the well.

Michelle Goldberg wrote about the same thing for the New York Times and did an excellent job of it.

(As for the weird thread on whether Lewinsky could consent to sex — you can consent to something that's still manipulative, skeezy or unethical. Let's not pretend she was 14 years old.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:36 AM on November 15 [11 favorites]


No one is "pretending she was 14." However, consent is not an issue that only applies to sex between children and adults, either.

Coercion takes many forms and applies when we talk about whether or not relationships with wide power imbalances include the ability to consent.
posted by zarq at 9:55 AM on November 15 [9 favorites]


I started the diversion about Lewinsky in response to EmpressC's comment: "Also, I was only in my 20s. I hadn't really had much of an understanding of how that power imbalance makes the whole situation troubling, even if all parties are willing. I know better now - and it looks like so does Monica Lewinsky (she quietly added her tweet to the "Metoo" hashtag campaign, but didn't say a thing about who she meant - but come on)."

I simply do not agree with the assumption that Bill Clinton is the one who she was referring to with that hashtag. The woman has been sexually harassed from practically half the human population from Linda Tripp on down.

Maybe the disagreement hinges on whether you think the principal bad actor in her lifetime of sexual harassment was Clinton (he should have known better and not exposed her to risk) or Starr (for literally putting the intimate details of their sexual involvement into the history books.) From her TED talk, I would presume the latter.
posted by Sublimity at 11:25 AM on November 15 [2 favorites]


Deep down I don't believe Lewinsky had the ability to consent to a relationship while she was working as an intern for the most powerful person on the planet. Power imbalances are a thing that exist. Relationships based on them can easily be coercive.

On the other hand, she believes the relationship was consensual, and listening when victims speak and believing them is vitally important.

I strongly believe Clinton is an unethical sleazebag who exploited her. I also believe that when we're speaking as a whole about the man's history, it would be counterproductive to get bogged down over whether or not he had permission in one case, when we have other victims who have come forward and quite clearly said that they did not consent when he harassed or raped them. Lewinsky isn't the only person whose history with him we're aware of.

Is what Starr and Tripp did disgusting and wrong? Yes. That doesn't negate his history with other women, nor what he did to Lewinsky. Tripp and Starr's actions sure as hell don't exonerate Clinton.
posted by zarq at 1:05 PM on November 15 [7 favorites]


Deep down I don't believe Lewinsky had the ability to consent to a relationship while she was working as an intern for the most powerful person on the planet.

For the record, Lewinsky was not an intern when she had an affair with Clinton. Although she had been an intern when she and Clinton first met, at the time of the affair she had a permanent job at the Pentagon. It was at her Pentagon job that she met Linda Tripp who had an adjacent desk. This does not excuse Clinton's behavior.
posted by JackFlash at 2:10 PM on November 15 [4 favorites]


"Deep down I don't believe Lewinsky had the ability to consent to a relationship while she was working as an intern for the most powerful person on the planet. Power imbalances are a thing that exist. Relationships based on them can easily be coercive. "

Yes, you've made your opinion clear. But you're treating "can" as "are," and seem to be angry when people push you on that, so it's not really worth getting into.

"I strongly believe Clinton is an unethical sleazebag who exploited her. I also believe that when we're speaking as a whole about the man's history, it would be counterproductive to get bogged down over whether or not he had permission in one case, when we have other victims who have come forward and quite clearly said that they did not consent when he harassed or raped them. Lewinsky isn't the only person whose history with him we're aware of."

Clinton can be an unethical sleazebag who exploited Lewinsky without denying her agency to consent. But more to the point, the Goldberg article I posted goes into distinguishing between Clinton allegations, and why it's worth treating Broaddrick as distinct from the others, and distinctly damning. Sloppy thinking on this does no one any favors, and we have a choice beyond accepting Flannagan's shenanigans or boxing all of it away to save the legacy of a charismatic Democrat.

On some level, it's good to see the GOP taking a stand against Clinton's egregious behavior — I believe Juanita; will they believe Anita?
posted by klangklangston at 2:50 PM on November 15 [5 favorites]


For the record, in my earlier comments I confused Willey and Broaddrick. Serves me right for relying on 20 year old memories.
posted by wierdo at 5:47 PM on November 15


if there's something that can be done for justice in the legal system, then fine, let's see the system do that with bill clinton

otherwise, frankly, it's too late - it's too late to hold him to account and it's too late to wash your hands of it if you supported him through the gross embarrassment this nation suffered because of him

20 years have passed and it's time to move on, certainly with the awareness that his behavior is unacceptable and shouldn't be tolerated in any candidate, certainly with the hope that neither clinton will be involved in our national politics, but it's still time to move on

i am damned if i want to listen to any more goddamned arguing about the sleazy things bill clinton did - enough is enough - the country is falling apart and we do not have time to squabble like children over what some crap artist politician did 20 years ago or what the other crap artist politicians opposed to him are trying to do about it

the democrats had their chance to toss him out and refused - so be it - they failed to act when it would have meant something

now, what moral actions are required by today's problems and are they going to actually DO them?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:23 PM on November 15 [3 favorites]


The Juanita Broaddrick case is what concerns me today. And yes, knowing then what we know now about Clinton, I believe he should have stepped down.

However, I've said this before in other threads, but I'm very uncomfortable when sexual infidelity is positioned as being as bad as sexual harassment or lack of consent. A power differential such as a large age difference or relative economic power may make the man in question super duper gross, but it doesn't (by itself) make it assault or harassment. If the relationship was consensual, if both parties in question are adults, if company or public money were not spent inappropriately, if the relationship contains no elements which by their nature prevent consent or if an atmosphere isn't created where you must sleep with person x to succeed, then I do not find it rises to the level of harassment and should be left to individual company or organizational policies to resolve.

My reason for this is simple. I want sexual assault and harassment to be handled instantly and seriously and with no grey area. I find that classing sexual infidelity in the same category as either muddies the waters and makes it much more difficult for the victims to get justice.

Lewinsky maintained then and maintains now that her relationship was consensual. As a result of all the focus on her case, it was easy to read the other (much more serious charges) as part of the same political smear campaign. Personally, I would like to deck BC for his relationship with Lewinsky (for all of us who have had our exhusbands cheat with younger women), but I also think it is she herself who gets to decide if it is any of my business.

I very *much* wish the focus could have been on Broaddrick case and the way it seems to fit with BC's broader pattern of harassment. I think a lot of the reason BC was easy to excuse was because it got buried under all the grey zone noise about Lewinsky/Tripp/Star/etc.

(I have worked in corporate environments where they disappeared young interns if they complained about harassment, but where an executive could be pilloried and fired for a consensual relationship with a peer.)
posted by frumiousb at 9:14 PM on November 15 [6 favorites]


The accusation against Al Franken is troubling from multiple angles. The photo is gross, but there's obviously no touching involved (look at the shadows). It's something Franken should never have done, and should have known better. It warrants sincere apology and close monitoring. But it's not "dating" 14-year-olds.

(Another reason why I really don't see the laffs in juvenile, outre "humor.")
posted by rikschell at 9:11 AM on November 16 [2 favorites]


It's not self-evident to me that he's not touching, and, regardless, it is using a woman as a sexual prop. Whether intended as a joke or not, it's not something I find myself able to excuse.

I like Franken. He was my neighbor for seven years, although I only met him once. I liked his work in politics.

But fuck him. This shit has to stop, and men who do this shit have to go.

I am sure there is a woman of color who can do his job just as well, and Congress needs less rich white men.
posted by maxsparber at 9:26 AM on November 16 [4 favorites]


If it were just the photo, I think an apology ought to suffice. The "rehearsal," though, is quite troubling. Rehearsal does not involve sticking your tongue down someone's throat.
posted by wierdo at 9:36 AM on November 16 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the more I think about it, even fake groping (because it's funny(!)WTF) is so far out of line, that resignation is justified. I don't think he can work for people the same way now. It's easier to call for because he'd be replaced by a Dem.

But you know the Republicans are going to weaponize this against any Dems that might get replaced with Republicans (in states with Republican governors who do the choosing). Taking out an asshole who nevertheless might hold the line against a literal Handmaid's Tale state is a situation where it is very tempting to invoke the Greater Good.

And that's why we should be struggling over Bill Clinton. We need to figure this out. Because the number of male politicians who AREN'T sexual predators appears to be vanishingly small. I'm still holding out for Jimmy Carter (who I know lusted in his heart, but c'mon!) and Barack Obama.
posted by rikschell at 10:38 AM on November 16


Stella Bugbee at NYMag: Being on the Right Side of History in 1998 Sucked
posted by lalex at 10:43 AM on November 16 [4 favorites]


"Yeah, the more I think about it, even fake groping (because it's funny(!)WTF) is so far out of line, that resignation is justified."

Wat?
posted by el io at 11:22 AM on November 16 [1 favorite]


What I'm saying is that fake groping is bad. It's not as bad as real groping. Looking at the photo, it really looks to me like the photo is staged to make it look like Franken is groping without actually doing so. Like the photos people pose for holding the Leaning Tower of Pisa in their hand. But pretending to grope someone because they think it's funny (and this is certainly something teenagers of my generation did) is really not funny. And now that we have a self-acclaimed groper in the White House, it's even MORE not funny. I think Franken should resign.
posted by rikschell at 11:32 AM on November 16


What I'm saying is that fake groping is bad. It's not as bad as real groping.

that's like saying someone can only be halfway pregnant.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:33 AM on November 16




that's like saying someone can only be halfway pregnant.

Is it? idk, I'd much rather my breasts be not-touched than touched.
posted by lalex at 12:38 PM on November 16 [3 favorites]


One is sexual harassment. One is sexual assault. Both are a degrading objectification.
posted by zarq at 1:29 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]


idk, I'd much rather my breasts be not-touched than touched.

Well, I'd rather that joking about "ooh, I'm touching EC's breasts while she's asleep!" was considered to be terrible rather than funny.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:17 PM on November 16 [3 favorites]


No one in the party "drummed him out." Spitzer resigned because he had paid $80,000+ while he was Attorney General and Governor to have sex with prostitutes across state lines. He violated federal law -- the Patriot and Bank Secrecy Acts. The latter was enacted to prevent money laundering. He framed it as a "personal failing," but the fact remains that he broke two federal laws. He later ran for NYC Comptroller as a Democrat in 2013.


Yeah, he was just forced to resign, that's all. As far as money laundering charges go, I consider that complete bullshit. It was only illegal because he was paying the money for prostitution, since that is a crime. So yes, drummed out (of office, the party, whatever) over a consensual affair.

Money laundering is what prosecutors charge when they "know" a person is guilty of something serious but can't prove it. As a product of the drug war, it's just yet another way for them to abuse their power. I wouldn't be surprised if Spitzer himself did it. Still doesn't make it right.
posted by wierdo at 3:06 PM on November 16


Well, I'd rather that joking about "ooh, I'm touching EC's breasts while she's asleep!" was considered to be terrible rather than funny.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:17 PM on November 16 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


It's right up there with a dick being drawn on your face while you're sleeping. Funny only to the most juvenile minds and humiliating to the victim.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:10 PM on November 16


I'm trying to reconcile my feelings about Clinton with my current feelings about Franken. I was wholly in favor of Clinton staying in office. I am not in favor of Franken staying in the Senate. I guess it's fatigue with seeing so many people I look up to turning out to have retrograde attitudes about women. Fuck 'em all.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:13 PM on November 16


Comedians are almost universally juvenile, especially in their native habitat. Doesn't make it any less gross, but it isn't like it was intended for public consumption, just the performers on the tour?

The reason the kiss rehearsal bugs me so much is that it was as clearly out of bounds 10 or 20 or even 30 years ago as it is today. The latter, less so. I can't begin to count the number of similar Polaroids I've seen of drunk people of every gender doing similar stupid shit. Once upon a time it seemed to be accepted. That's almost certainly an illusion, but it was the thinking of the time, IIRC. Even MeFi was still a boyzone in 2006.
posted by wierdo at 3:19 PM on November 16


Literally last year Metafilter had folks calling Juanita Broaddrick's story a "conspiracy theory" and "Alex Jones level storytelling" and a whole lot of other dismissiveness about the allegations against Bill Clinton from various women. Still a boyzone in many ways.
posted by lalex at 3:30 PM on November 16


We also had plenty of people talking about how skeevy Bill Clinton was and wishing that he wasn't so prominent at the Democratic National Convention.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:42 PM on November 16


Broaddrick either wasn't raped or she lied under oath. If she lied under oath, then it becomes impossible for me to trust any version of her story, so *what* parts she may have lied about under oath and whether another version is the real story or more lies becomes impossible for me to tell. So yes, I don't believe Juanita Broaddrick, and at this point I'm kind of annoyed that apparently it's become a shibboleth that I can't use my rationality to analyze someone's story.
posted by tavella at 4:02 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]


Most Hillary Clinton Voters Think The Allegations Against Bill Clinton Are Credible, a poll looking at people's belief in various sexual impropriety allegations vs. how they voted in 2016.

I hate how this is so politicized. Women's safety and dignity is too important to be tied to party affiliation.
posted by Nelson at 4:05 PM on November 16


Broaddrick has said that she signed the sworn statement because she wanted the whole thing to be over with and didn't want to relive one of the most horrific events of her life. I find that believable, relatable actually, and her account credible. And of course there are other women who have accused Clinton of assaulting them.
posted by lalex at 4:20 PM on November 16 [7 favorites]


The Broaddrick case was investigated at exhaustive length by Ken Starr, who was driven to nail Clinton and had unlimited resources. He pursued the Lewinsky thing, for example, even though Lewinsky didn't want any prosecution pursued.

If he had thought there was anything solid in the case, he definitely would have thrown it at Clinton. The fact that he didn't is IMHO the best reason to be skeptical about the case.
posted by msalt at 4:49 PM on November 16 [1 favorite]


Starr found the evidence to be inconclusive, as is so often the case in sexual assault and rape cases where the only two witnesses are the people who were there. From what little I know about the case, I would agree that it's not enough for a conviction in a court of law.

But I find her account credible, and it fits in with what I view as a pattern of allegations of assault and evidence of abuse of power.
posted by lalex at 5:00 PM on November 16 [3 favorites]


Goddamn it, Al! Why’d you do that!?

I have had three thoughts running through my head all day about this:

1. You were married for over 30 years at this point. Don’t you have any respect for your wife?
2. The woman was only a few years older than your daughter. Doesn’t that skeeze you out?
3. What would Paul Wellstone think of you right now?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:23 PM on November 16 [1 favorite]


Look, Clinton apologists, the GOP was on a witch hunt for six years. That’s a given. The Clintons had to put up with some Grade A bullshit. None of that is an excuse for getting a blowjob from an intern in the goddamned Oval Office. That isn’t a private affair between consenting adults — its an abuse of power by the President of the United States of America. Full stop. Nothing to debate.

He should have had the decency to resign. Failing that, the GOP should have had the competence to recognize that “high crimes and misdemeanors” doesn’t mean an actual crime under the law but just an abuse of Office.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:34 PM on November 16


Oh hi, I'm a feminist who doesn't think Bill Clinton is a rapist.

Here's why:
Three women, Willey, Broaddrick, and Jones, accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct.
All three have recanted or changed their stories at least once.
Broaddrick and Willey testified, under oath, that Clinton never made unwanted advances.
In a 1999 interview, Broaddrick was asked, "did Bill Clinton or anyone near him ever threaten you, try to intimidate you, do anything to keep you silent?" She answered "no."
Witnesses, including Jones' own sister and BIL and six close friends of Willey's, stated that Willey and Jones had described their encounters with Clinton as consensual.
Jones was exposed as a liar for saying Clinton's penis had a deformity.
Willey lied under oath repeatedly to Ken Starr's investigators.
All three of them allowed themselves to be used as partisan political props for our current pussy-grabber in chief at the second presidential debate last year.

What kind of solidarity do I owe these women, who supported a man who bragged about assaulting women against a woman whose husband allegedly assaulted them personally? Zero.

So yeah, I'm not ready to throw Hillary's hubs under the bus or out of the party for these accusations. I do believe women, and I believe that everyone should. I just don't believe these three. False accusations of rape are rare, but phony accusations against the Clintons are thick on the ground and have been for some 25 years now.

And since we're talking Clintons, I'd like to point out that the accusations that she enabled him, or that she attacked his accusers, is completely false. According to her longtime best friend and confidant Diane Blair, Hillary said, in a private telephone conversation, that Monica was a "narcissistic loony toon." We only know about it because Blair died in 2000 and her husband gave her papers to the U of A, where they were made public in 2010. There is no record of Hillary publicly saying anything derogatory about any of Bill's accusers, and I'll give her a pass on confiding in her best friend about Monica. I don't think any woman is required to speak kindly about the woman her husband had an affair with.
posted by caryatid at 6:42 PM on November 16 [8 favorites]


That isn’t a private affair between consenting adults — its an abuse of power by the President of the United States of America. Full stop. Nothing to debate.

Monica Lewinsky doesn't talk about it that way. Full stop. Nothing to debate.
posted by Nelson at 6:47 PM on November 16 [4 favorites]


Monica Lewinsky doesn't talk about it that way. Full stop. Nothing to debate.

Who said anything about Bill Clinton raping Monica Lewinsky? Your response is a straw man.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:11 PM on November 16


From the article you referenced:

“Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position, (Emphasis added by me.)

Their actions were consensual and not criminal. But his were most definitely an abuse of his position as president.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:17 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]


But his were most definitely an abuse of his position as president.

And let's not pretend Clinton and his aides didn't have a hand in making her the scapegoat.
posted by lalex at 7:24 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]


Neither Clinton nor his aides dragged her into the relationship or the ensuing investigation. Bill should have been smart enough to see how likely that outcome was, though, so it isn't as if he doesn't rate any blame at all.

As described, it's simply not an impeachment level offense. It certainly did impact public perception of him in a negative way. Enough to flip an election? Who knows, but I doubt he'd have run again even if he could have.
posted by wierdo at 7:39 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]


Hell if I know what to believe.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:30 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]


The Broaddrick case was investigated at exhaustive length by Ken Starr, who was driven to nail Clinton and had unlimited resources.

My understanding is that the statue of limitations had expired. So Ken focused his prosecutorial energies on potential crimes that he was still able to prosecute. Even if it had not expired, rape is difficult enough to prosecute when there is physical evidence.

Personally, I agree that the Lewinsky relationship should not have risen to an impeachable offense. But perhaps it should have risen to a level where the entire party said 'to hell with that guy', and made him persona non grata.

It's possible that given the legal impossibilities of prosecuting the Broaddrick case, that too shouldn't have been impeachable offense (I am not a lawyer, that's really a legal question). I do think it would be reasonable that Bill Clinton shouldn't get service from a goddamned McDonalds employee, let alone speak at the local library Harry Potter Club, let alone have his exalted party position he retains to this day.

"He's innocent until proven guilty in a court of law," should keep a person out of jail, but it sure as hell shouldn't prevent a public shunning.
posted by el io at 11:59 PM on November 16


Clinton wasn't targeted for impeachment by Starr for anything he did in the Lewinsky case except lying about it during the investigation (because there was nothing illegal about his sexual behavior) -- so statute of limitations is not an issue. If the Broaddrick allegations were solid, then Starr could have pursued Clinton for lying about that case too, in his denials.

None of that is an excuse for getting a blowjob from an intern in the goddamned Oval Office. That isn’t a private affair between consenting adults

Lewinsky was not an intern at the time of the affair, she was a former intern (as was Bill Clilnton). And she was indeed a consenting adult, 22 years old, who had told a friend before she even left for Washington that she was "going to get my presidential kneepads."

It's also true that he was her boss of bosses and should not have had an affair with her, and that their age difference added a second, gross power dynamic that reinforces the fact that he is a sleazeball. Life can be complicated sometimes.
posted by msalt at 1:05 AM on November 17 [2 favorites]


It is completely ridiculous that ostensibly liberal supporters of feminism can read Katie Baker's Buzzfeed article about Juanita Broaddrick and still be using "but she recanted under oath!" as an argument against the credibility of her accusation. She makes it perfectly clear why she recanted. Paula Jones' lawyers deposed her after sending private investigators to her door who recorded her without her knowledge. She wanted to remain out of the spotlight so lied under oath. When Ken Starr put her before a grand jury, she got scared and told the truth, even as she kept trying to remain anonymous. There is nothing about this that should sound remotely unfamiliar or unbelievable to anyone who professes to pay attention to women's stories about sexual assault and harassment.
posted by mediareport at 6:13 AM on November 17 [8 favorites]


The relevant section:

Despite Broaddrick’s attempts to keep her story within her small circle of friends, word traveled through Arkansas' small-world political circles. State Republicans who opposed Clinton tried to convince Broaddrick to go public. Lawyers for Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee who sued Clinton for sexual harassment, sent private investigators to Broaddrick’s door in 1997.

“It's just that was a long time ago and I don't want to relive it," she told them, according to a public transcript (they recorded her without her knowledge). "You can't get to him, and I'm not going to ruin my good name to do it.”

When Jones’ lawyers subpoenaed her, Broaddrick signed an affidavit denying that Clinton had ever raped her. It was her decision to do so. “I did not want to get involved, and I signed it hoping to stay out of it,” she told me. The next year, Clinton was on trial for impeachment for allegedly obstructing justice during the Jones case. Federal prosecutor Ken Starr’s investigation team reached out to Broaddrick to ask whether Clinton had forced her to file a false affidavit. Broaddrick was afraid of lying to a federal grand jury, she says. After Starr gave her immunity from prosecution for perjury, she decided it was time to tell the full truth.

Broaddrick still desperately wanted to stay anonymous, but Jones’ lawyers used her name in a 1998 court filing. As Clinton’s impeachment trial loomed closer, reporters started staking out her house and tabloids printed vicious rumors about her family. Broaddrick agreed to sit down for a television interview with NBC News' Lisa Myers on Dateline. She also hoped to help impeach Clinton.

But the meticulously fact-checked Dateline report didn’t run until two weeks after the impeachment trial, in which Clinton was acquitted. Starr found Broaddrick’s rape claims inconclusive — the statute of limitations on them had passed decades before — and didn’t include them in the report, although he allowed Republicans to hear them.

NBC has said the 35 days it took to vet the segment were standard. Myers, who said she had never fought so hard to get something on the air, explained the delay to Broaddrick this way: “The good news is you’re credible. The bad news is you’re very credible."

posted by mediareport at 6:20 AM on November 17


I said it at the time and I'll say it now: if it's dangerous and stupid and criminally selfish to get head while driving a car, it's dangerous and stupid and criminally selfish to get head while driving the ship of state. I hated that fucker the day I heard he gutted welfare; the thing where he's on the phone with some senator talking about corn futures or whatever the hell it was and performing a sex act at the same time did not raise him in my regard. Fuck you, Bill. You are not my goddamn president. And then he lied his face off and ruined Lewinsky's life*.

*Up to now! She should totally run for office on a "consensual sex will not be a third rail life wrecker; sexual assault and harassment and other bullying will" platform.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:00 AM on November 17 [3 favorites]


Here's a view from the center-right (Josh Barro). I don't agree with all of it, but I do think it's time to reckon with the damage Clinton's behavior has caused: The Clintons held the Democratic Party hostage for 2 decades — and the sudden revisionism is inconveniently late.
posted by lalex at 8:31 AM on November 17 [2 favorites]


This is how I viewed Clinton's sex crimes at the time. I'm not saying it is correct.
If you look at Roger Stone's book on the Clintons, he claims they committed a fair number of murders (e.g., Vince Foster). I believe the numbers were 84 possible and 38 with good evidence, although I may be confusing that number with the murders he claims the Bushes committed. It is junk conspiracy theory in place of journalism.
These women came out at a time when it sounded like another Whitewater scandal (which was essentially a nothingburger). Some of them were clearly manipulated such as Paula Jones and I didn't find the stories credible, not because I dismiss women claiming sexual offenses, but in the sense that I dismiss those pressing Vince Foster-type stories. The one at the forefront was Monica Lewinsky whose story was so exaggerated (they used the age when she started her internship in place of the age when she started her affair and ignore the fact that she was no longer an intern at the time she started her affair) that I dismissed the Lewinsky affair as a family matter.
So, twenty years later do I want to dredge through the stories to find the truth? I would like to, but in terms of things that compete for my time, this isn't high priority. I don't believe those that package the stories. I waste too much time with Uranium One, Vince Foster, Whitewater, so many phony scandals and things that just don't matter anymore.
This is too much 2016 Republican campaign, sins of the husband stuff. It is exhausting and trotted out as an excuse for Trump and Moore.
P.S. -- Hillary would have made a great president.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:14 AM on November 17 [2 favorites]


And she was indeed a consenting adult, 22 years old, who had told a friend before she even left for Washington that she was "going to get my presidential kneepads."

No she didn't.
Halper, online editor of the right-leaning Weekly Standard, exclusively provided portions of his “Monica Files” to The Daily Beast, and also shared his revealing interview with Andy Bleiler, Lewinsky’s high school drama teacher who was later exposed in the midst of the scandal—by Clinton operatives, Halper contends—as having engaged in an ill-fated extramarital affair with his former student.

It was allegedly Bleiler and his wronged wife who were the source of the infamous quote attributed to Monica in every media outlet on the planet: “I’m going to the White House to get my presidential kneepads.” Apparently the quote—portraying Monica as a delusional sexual predator who preyed on married men—was completely made up, Bleiler suggested to Halper.

The “presidential kneepads” phrase was first uttered on the Today show by a mysterious attorney named Terry Giles, who showed up unbidden on Bleiler’s doorstep in Portland, Oregon, offered to speak to the media on behalf of the teacher and his then-wife, and never asked for payment. “I don’t even know where that term came from,” Bleiler told Halper in their previously unpublished interview. “I don’t know how it got where it got. That was not me.”

posted by zarq at 9:20 AM on November 17 [9 favorites]


by the way, this, from Phillippe Reines, is outrageous:
Ken Starr spent $70 million on a consensual blowjob. Senate voted to keep POTUS WJC. But not enough for you @SenGillibrand? Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons’ endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite.

Interesting strategy for 2020 primaries. Best of luck.
and only contributes to my feeling that it is time for an awful lot of Clinton folks to step out of view. (WTF the Clintons' seat? Sorry, but that seat belongs to me and my fellow New Yorkers.)
posted by lalex at 9:59 AM on November 17 [5 favorites]


(A seat which, as Barro points out in the piece I linked above, would have almost certainly gone to Congresswoman Nita Lowey.)
posted by lalex at 10:32 AM on November 17


All these commentators, and a few more, seem to recollect a moment when Clinton blithely escaped accountability for awful sex offenses because the feckless liberals let him skip. But that isn’t how I remember the record of the Clinton years, because that is precisely the opposite of what happened.

Unlike Weinstein, Moore, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, or any of the dozens of powerful men whose misdeeds have provoked a wave of justified fury, for years Clinton endured a long, painful, and very costly series of official investigations of his alleged sexual misdeeds. Various accounts of his private behavior, whether invented or truthful, filled thousands of hours of national airtime, millions of inches of newsprint, and dozens of books (including The Hunting of the President by Gene Lyons and me, published in 2000).

Unlike the Fox News criminals and many other creeps who quietly reached settlements that kept the most lurid details of their behavior under court seal, Clinton’s alleged acts were litigated publicly all the way to the Supreme Court — with attendant coverage that included, among other embarrassments, a debate about the appearance of his penis.

And most important, unlike any of those now in the dock, Clinton underwent a $70-million investigation by a zealous federal inquisitor who had all the powers of the Justice Department, a team of relentless and experienced prosecutors, and the forensic services of the FBI, which he employed in a wide-ranging sex probe that went back decades. That special prosecutor’s name was Kenneth W. Starr. He would be dismayed to learn that his dogged efforts to destroy Clinton have so soon been forgotten.

While Clinton certainly prevaricated about Lewinsky, partly in order to avoid telling his wife, his affair was not exactly a predatory attack on an unwilling victim, despite the glaring difference in their age and station. Indeed, she forthrightly portrayed herself as the aggressor and continued to pursue him long after she was transferred from the White House to a job in the Pentagon.


...

Yet those who still feel an urge to flog Clinton, for whatever motive, should pursue that stern impulse with all the seriousness it deserves. A just reckoning requires grappling with all the evidence – the depositions, the testimony, the recordings, the exhibits, the affidavits, the books, and even the journalism, dreadful as much of it was. This case isn’t a current legal proceeding. It’s history—and the facts, not fitting an easy storyline or moral fable, are available to those willing to deal with them.

Having been there and done that, I can assure the would-be judges that this is no small project. What they’ve written and said so far indicates a need to stop posturing and start reading.

posted by caryatid at 12:31 PM on November 17 [3 favorites]


Has anyone forgotten the Starr probe? I was alive for that (albeit a teenager), defended Clinton's behavior, and to my great shame I bought into all of the spin about how these "trashy" women craved money, attention, and power. Now I'm coming to grips with my own reaction and the damage he did to the party, and I think a lot of other people are too.

Indeed, she forthrightly portrayed herself as the aggressor and continued to pursue him long after she was transferred from the White House to a job in the Pentagon.

This grosses me out. When I was a teenager and defending this behavior as "consensual", I had no context for the power imbalance involved in a relationship between a 22-year-old woman and a 49-year-old man - a man who happened to be the most powerful person in the world, and who was widely considered to be the most charismatic politician of his generation.

Is it possible for Monica to truly be an aggressor in this situation? I just don't know, and I don't really care. It's Bill's behavior I'm considering here.
posted by lalex at 1:00 PM on November 17 [4 favorites]


Only Monica gets to decide that. If she continues to claim, as she always has, that she was the aggressor, I believe her.
posted by caryatid at 4:50 PM on November 17 [4 favorites]


Just curious -- why not one breath of outrage about George H.W. Bush and the 7 allegations of forcible, non-consensual abuse by him? Why are Clinton and Al Franken the only poltiicians people are focusing on?

I'm very concerned that this is all sending a clear message to perpetrators -- never take responsibility for any of your actions. Sarah Huckabee Sanders openly defended Trump today by saying "He hasn't admitted anything and Franken has."

When admitted, less serious offenses hurt you more than straight out denial of sexual assaults (Trump, Bush, Schwarznegger, Moore), you're training politicians how to handle these cases, and the lessons aren't good.
posted by msalt at 5:29 PM on November 17 [3 favorites]


When admitted, less serious offenses hurt you more than straight out denial of sexual assaults

Has Clinton admitted to sexual assault?

Anyway I think the GHWB thing is outrageous! But certainly it has way less relevance to my life as a liberal and a Democrat than Franken or Bill Clinton. Having said that, if you post a thread about GHWB I promise I will leave a comment expressing my disgust and outrage.
posted by lalex at 5:58 PM on November 17 [2 favorites]


Just curious -- why not one breath of outrage about George H.W. Bush and the 7 allegations of forcible, non-consensual abuse by him?

Because he's 93 and feeble. Really, I think that's it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:18 PM on November 17


Because he's 93 and feeble. Really, I think that's it.

Yep, that's basically it. His defenders think that old age is a license to grope women with impunity.
posted by caryatid at 9:47 PM on November 17 [3 favorites]


Alternately, he is suffering age related dementia. Which would be awful but not willfully awful
posted by Nelson at 10:22 PM on November 17




His defenders think that old age is a license to grope women with impunity.

"When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple." - women's version
"When I am an old man, I will grope with impunity and get away with it because I'm old." - men's version.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:21 AM on November 18 [1 favorite]


"When I am an old man, I will grope with impunity and get away with it because I'm old." - men's version.

My impression is that he's always been like this, which I did not know! A close friend happened to have dinner with someone who was the GOP head in her state (a state important to the Bushes) when the first allegation came out, and he said something to the effect of: "is this the product of age-related dementia, etc.?" and she was like NOPE he is HANDSY MCHANDSERSON and always has been.
posted by lalex at 6:33 AM on November 18 [2 favorites]


There is a book I have (and recommend) called The
Woman at the Washington Zoo
, a collection of articles and essays by the late Marjorie Williams, writer for the Washington Post and Vanity Fair. There is a profile (originally in VF) of Barbara Bush, and it mentions in passing that her husband George Sr. was "a biiiiiiiiig flirt." Williams wrote her profile in 1992, very soon after the Anita Hill hearings and when the idea of sexual harassment was still "one of those humorless feminist things." Looking back, I assume "biiiiiiig flirt" was code for "handsy as hell."
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:53 AM on November 18 [2 favorites]




Alternately, he is suffering age related dementia. Which would be awful but not willfully awful

First on CNN: New George H.W. Bush accuser says he groped her during 1992 re-election campaign
Another allegation took place in 2003.

OK, NOW what's the excuse? (And ditto Arnold Schwarznegger, who promised that the multiple sexual abuse allegations against him would be investigated after he was elected, and then just blew them all off.)
posted by msalt at 12:20 PM on November 18 [3 favorites]


IT IS VERY BAD AND THERE IS NO EXCUSE
posted by lalex at 12:50 PM on November 18


I don't think GHWB is getting a (relative) pass because people think what he did was fine. I think it's because, by comparison with Weinstein, Louis C.K., Spacey, Moore, Cosby, et al., he's less dangerous. Physically weaker, less political influence, unusually old, etc. The others are more capable of causing harm, so it makes sense to pay more attention to them.

This is obviously not the same thing as saying that it's okay for him to grope now, or that it was okay for him to do so earlier. It's not even saying that he's stopped assaulting women: for all I know he might still be. Just that, rightly or wrongly, he's perceived as less threatening, and is consequently less interesting right now. If there were reports from women saying he groped them last September, we'd be talking about him a lot more (though half of that would be people ironically/seriously admiring him for still being a predatory asshole at his advanced age so it would just make everything worse).
posted by Spathe Cadet at 3:26 PM on November 18


. . . and now I see that the most recent accusation was 2016, so there goes the last sentence, at least, if not the whole hypothesis.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 3:30 PM on November 18 [1 favorite]


I think it's because, by comparison with Weinstein, Louis C.K., Spacey, Moore, Cosby, et al., he's less dangerous. Physically weaker, less political influence, unusually old, etc.

This. I'm frankly pretty annoyed by the prodding here. Like many women, this unrelenting barrage of news about sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape are personally painful to read about and process. I'm tired.

Obviously groping people is bad, full stop. But I have limited energy, I must prioritize, and I don't think I need an excuse to spend less time thinking or caring about GHWB than those people who actually have influence over my political party or national policy.
posted by lalex at 3:38 PM on November 18 [1 favorite]


Since I'm the one who suggested dementia as an excuse for GHWB, I'd like to say I only proposed that when the only accusations I knew of were recent events from him being 90+ and visibly suffering age-related decline. The accusations from 2003 and 1992 that have come to light eliminate that explanation for his behavior. I have no interest in making excuses for him.
posted by Nelson at 4:18 PM on November 18 [2 favorites]


don't think GHWB is getting a (relative) pass because people think what he did was fine. I think it's because, by comparison with Weinstein, Louis C.K., Spacey, Moore, Cosby, et al., he's less dangerous. Physically weaker, less political influence, unusually old, etc. The others are more capable of causing harm, so it makes sense to pay more attention to them.

He was the President of the United States. Or are we seriously suggesting that he suddenly started doing this in 1992?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:45 PM on November 18 [1 favorite]


why not one breath of outrage about George H.W. Bush and the 7 allegations of forcible, non-consensual abuse by him?

I don't know who you're following on social media but I saw plenty of condemnation of GHWB and also of the bullshit excuses people tried to make for his behavior. Maybe widen your lens before claiming there hasn't been "one breath of outrage".
posted by Lexica at 7:37 PM on November 18 [4 favorites]


I was referring to this very discussion, not to social media, when I asked that question.
posted by msalt at 12:23 PM on November 19


This discussion was about Bill Clinton until you tried to make it about Bush, so it's unsurprising that people were expressing opinions about Bill Clinton and not Bush. Would you like to just post a list of people recently accused of sexual harassment/assault? That way we can all express suitable outrage and then continue the conversation about Clinton.

I don't know who you're following on social media but I saw plenty of condemnation of GHWB and also of the bullshit excuses people tried to make for his behavior.

This has also been my experience.
posted by lalex at 12:59 PM on November 19 [3 favorites]


I've linked to the GHWB allegations several times in both the main political threads and the Roy Moore thread, and people have discussed the links. I got these both from mainstream news sources and mentions on social media, so count me in as another commentor who's not sure where you're getting "not one breath of outrage" either.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:02 PM on November 19 [3 favorites]


[A few comments removed. msalt, you brought in the other stuff in a pretty poor way initially; "why isn't everybody talking about thing x that I want to talk about" is basically never a good tack to take in an ongoing discussion since it functions as a challenge/rebuke. Just talk about something if you think its worth talking about, don't pick a fight with other people about the fact that they're having a conversation about other things.]
posted by cortex at 2:33 PM on November 19 [2 favorites]


Lewinsky's position is an interestingly nuanced one, and I'd just like to thank people here in the thread for pointing me to it, because (like so many people), I'd never really heard her side of how things went down. The more I've thought about it, the more I think it's unfortunate how the whole saga was and remains a "sex scandal". It wasn't, and shouldn't have been, about the sex qua sex.

From Lewinsky's statements, the sexual relationship was consensual. She was young, and so I think it's totally fair to find that skeevy on Bill's side, but she was old enough to consent and I don't think we want to diminish her agency there. Whether or not there was implicit coercion via a power imbalance is impossible to say from this great of a remove, but it doesn't seem to have been an issue to her, and I think she should be given the benefit of the doubt. (In the same way that if she said there was coercion, we should probably give that a lot of weight.)

But where she feels she got taken advantage of -- and this is where we should give her narrative weight -- was in the aftermath/coverup. In order to protect The Boss, as happens all too often in scenarios like this, she got thrown under the bus. And in doing so the whole affair becomes retroactively skeevy even if it wasn't to begin with. (Like, it's one thing to have a consensual sexual relationship between two adults, but then if it becomes public and one of those people uses their position to undermine the other so they can deny it... I don't know if that's legally some form of sexual harassment, but it's definitely beyond the pale.) And it's where it goes from two people having a consensual-if-extramarital fling into an outright abuse of power, which is a legitimate reason to question the judgement of someone whose entire job is the responsible exercise of power.

I think this is important because there's an important line to be drawn between pillorying politicians, or other people in leadership or powerful positions, for abusing power for their own advantage, whether sexual or otherwise, and enforcing Puritanical sexual moral-legalism in the public sphere. I don't think we really want the latter. (I mean, some people do, but they're generally pretty awful people.) But not wanting to play Bowdler with the personal lives of others shouldn't mean we can't judge someone for displaying hideously poor leadership just because sex (however consensual) is involved. There's a fine line there, to be sure, but it's not that hard to navigate.

Disclaimer: None of this has any bearing on the prior incidents involving BC which reportedly may have been absolutely nonconsenusal, though, and I'm in no way meaning this as a defense of Bill Clinton as a person. The open question with him is whether he's treating-another-human-being-like-sexual-kleenex level skeevy, or full bore likely-to-have-committed-sexual-assault skeevy. But I think there's still value in considering the situations independently for the lessons they might have.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:52 PM on November 19 [8 favorites]


In case anyone hasn't read Monica Lewinsky's own take on the whole scandal, she published it (along with a series of other articles) in Vanity Fair magazine.
posted by msalt at 1:18 AM on November 20


But I find her account credible, and it fits in with what I view as a pattern of allegations of assault and evidence of abuse of power.

I hate to well, actually, but unless I'm mistaken, it's actually the inverse of typical predatory patterns. Who knows what may have happened before 1978, but I was under the impression most start small before graduating to forcible rape and not the other way around.
posted by wierdo at 11:18 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]


I was under the impression most start small before graduating to forcible rape and not the other way around

I guess the dynamics could be different if the perpetrator is becoming more powerful and famous and thus facing higher stakes for being caught?
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:10 PM on November 20


The idea that Bill Clinton has not faced a reckoning for his actions is bizarre. He was, you know, impeached for sexual misbehavior. Few people in history have had their sex lives investigated more thoroughly (maybe the Marquis de Sade?). Don't forget that Republicans actually fired the first special prosecutor investigating Clinton (Robert Fiske, Jr.) because he wasn't partisan enough, and replaced him with Ken Starr, who published a 450-page report on his investigation.

I'm all for a full Truth and Reconciliation Commission -- let's look at all of the alleged perpetrators in both parties. Maybe let's start with those still in office, including Clarence Thomas -- who has new allegations against him as of October -- and Donald Trump.

If we want to look at "elder statemen" of both parties such as Clinton, great, but George H.W. Bush (who continues to assault women) should definitely be included, as should Arnold Schwarzenegger, Newt Gingrich and Armstrong Williams (Ben Carson's right hand man), all of whom are frequently quoted in news stories and have completely evaded any investigation for their perpetrations.
posted by msalt at 2:45 PM on November 20 [2 favorites]


If we want to look at "elder statemen" of both parties such as Clinton, great, but George H.W. Bush (who continues to assault women) should definitely be included, as should Arnold Schwarzenegger, Newt Gingrich and Armstrong Williams (Ben Carson's right hand man), all of whom are frequently quoted in news stories and have completely evaded any investigation for their perpetrations.

There's a strange sort of language of bargaining throughout this thread, and not just in this comment. A sort of 'we'll believe your accusers, if you believe ours!' insistence that I find really discomforting. It reads as if women were bargaining chips rather than individuals who deserve to have their cases heard because it's right, and not as part of some great bargain that forgets about them as people once again.

Bill Clinton's accusers deserve to be heard because being heard should not depend on whether you can pass some arbitrary approval bar for politics, morality, looks, or anything else. Nor should it depend on whether someone else is listening to them.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:13 PM on November 20 [6 favorites]


The idea that Bill Clinton has not faced a reckoning for his actions is bizarre. He was, you know, impeached for sexual misbehavior.

Yeah, for his behavior with Monica Lewinsky. There are other accusations that are far more serious and I find them credible.

Anyway, my own interest in this isn't really "what penalty should Bill Clinton suffer" but more "should Clinton supporters and the Democratic Party reckon with why we supported him?" which is something that confused younger feminists who have no memory of that time. I mean, the man was active on the campaign and fundraising trail for our presidential candidate literally last year.
posted by lalex at 3:41 PM on November 20 [2 favorites]


To add to my comment above, Bill Clinton doesn't have to go live in a hole, but at the very least hopefully we won't get more occasions like this one in 2012: like this one in 2012
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:56 PM on November 20 [2 favorites]


If we want to look at "elder statemen" of both parties such as Clinton, great, but George H.W. Bush (who continues to assault women) should definitely be included, as should Arnold Schwarzenegger, Newt Gingrich and Armstrong Williams (Ben Carson's right hand man), all of whom are frequently quoted in news stories and have completely evaded any investigation for their perpetrations.

As I've said before, people are welcome to discuss and criticize a variety of offenders, but not if it's done in a quid pro quo "we're not going to talk about this harasser unless we also talk about that one!" which is bullshit.
posted by Lexica at 4:16 PM on November 20 [4 favorites]


lalex, Ken Starr investigated all of the sexual misconduct allegations, not just Lewinsky's. We all have a right to our own opinions (and I think we're in fairly close agreement in the sense most of us think it's time for Bill to move on from party politics and hopefully keep out of the news), but not our own facts.
posted by wierdo at 6:25 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]


A sort of 'we'll believe your accusers, if you believe ours!' insistence that I find really discomforting.

The stance that is strange to me is the consistent desire to isolate Bill Clinton and focus on his offenses, but not those of his contemporaries. Clinton is basically the only male sexual harasser who ever has been investigated (Anita Hill's allegations were partially pursued as part of confirmation, but none of Clarence Thomases other accusers, old or new.)

Why is it discomforting to say "Sure, let's investigate all of these accusations"? Isn't that the obvious right thing to do?
posted by msalt at 6:33 PM on November 20


lalex, Ken Starr investigated all of the sexual misconduct allegations, not just Lewinsky's.

I'm aware he investigated the allegations, but I was responding to a comment saying that Bill Clinton faced a reckoning for the actions being discussed here by being impeached.

My impression is that the impeachment trial was only related to perjury and obstruction of justice charges connected to his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, so in that sense he has not faced an impeachment "reckoning" related to the allegations of sexual assault. If I'm wrong about the impeachment trial I apologize and I'm happy to be corrected.
posted by lalex at 6:36 PM on November 20


I agree! Sure, let's investigate these allegations. Can you get off this now?
posted by lalex at 6:37 PM on November 20


[msalt, everyone who's engaged with this agrees that the other people should be held accountable too. You need to stop bringing this up.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:42 PM on November 20


I should also say that I understand where people who don't want to give ground on the issue are coming from. They see the Starr report and his investigation as clearing Bill of any impropriety. I'm naturally inclined to be sympathetic to that view, having first met the man when I was 9 years old during one of his gubernatorial reelection campaigns.

His natural charisma in person may be a large part of why there's such a divide on the issue. Like many of the most gifted politicians, it's hard not to like him when you meet him.

I try to recognize that I have a hard time evaluating this particular thing, what with having known, met, worked for, or otherwise have some indirect relationship with some of the people who were part of the Clintons' circle back home. (I never heard anything anyone would find interesting aside from otherwise public information; I met them after all this stuff had come and gone) When people you respect hold other people in esteem, it can cloud ones judgement, after all. Being social animals, our respect for others tends to be transitive.
posted by wierdo at 6:49 PM on November 20


lalex, it depends how you define "reckoning." Ken Starr (and a highly partisan Republican caucus in the House) investigated all of the allegations AFAIK and pursued them as fiercely as possible. The charges issued were about perjury because they couldn't document or support any stronger charges fully enough even for a party line vote in the House. That includes the Broaddrick and Willey allegations.

That's based on mid-1990s law, of course. I suspect (and hope) that Clinton's affair with Lewinsky would violate current law on sexual harassment.
posted by msalt at 6:51 PM on November 20


His natural charisma in person may be a large part of why there's such a divide on the issue.

oh man, a family friend went to one of the more intimate Clinton fundraisers maybe...last year? and said to take whatever you've heard about his charisma and multiply that by about a thousand to understand the in-person effect.

I do (did? I don't know) like him and I think that's why this topic is difficult but useful to talk about.
posted by lalex at 6:54 PM on November 20


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