Don't Believe Them, They Really Don't Think Bill Clinton Should Have Resigned

DonkeyHotey via Flickr Creative Commons image 24317917355_e3e0a585ab_h

If you take the media seriously, then you’d conclude that one good thing that has happened from the Roy Moore fiasco has been that Democrats have finally discovered that powerful men taking advantage of young women (or in the case of George Takei and Kevin Spacey, young men) is not acceptable behavior. Personally, I find this charming. If you were alive during the 1992 election you heard, day in and day out, that one had to separate a politician’s private morality from their public acts. when Lynn Martin announced at the 1992 GOP convention that, “You can’t be one kind of man and another kind of President,” (this, by the way, was aimed as much at Bill Clinton’s physical cowardice in fleeing the US for the UK during the draft as it was at his well established reputation, pre-Lewinsky, as sexual predator) she was ridiculed.

This is how it started:

Keep in mind, that this includes actual substantiated, at least by the Roy Moore standard of substantiation, allegations of forcible rape–‘You better put some ice on that’. And just last year this was the way ABC News reported it:

https://twitter.com/HashtagGriswold/status/930836531127963650

Now we’ve reached peak-Pat-on-the-Back (many conservatives achieved this level late last week, so the progressives are a little slow to the party)

The New York Times’s Michelle Goldberg chimed in with “I Believe Juanita.”

Of the Clinton accusers, the one who haunts me is Broaddrick. The story she tells about Clinton recalls those we’ve heard about Weinstein. She claimed they had plans to meet in a hotel coffee shop, but at the last minute he asked to come up to her hotel room instead, where he raped her. Five witnesses said she confided in them about the assault right after it happened. It’s true that she denied the rape in an affidavit to Paula Jones’s lawyers, before changing her story when talking to federal investigators. But her explanation, that she didn’t want to go public but couldn’t lie to the F.B.I., makes sense. Put simply, I believe her.

This is the kicker:

And now they’re being trotted out again. It’s fair to conclude that because of Broaddrick’s allegations, Bill Clinton no longer has a place in decent society. But we should remember that it’s not simply partisan tribalism that led liberals to doubt her. Discerning what might be true in a blizzard of lies isn’t easy, and the people who spread those lies don’t get to claim the moral high ground. We should err on the side of believing women, but sometimes, that belief will be used against us.

Another entry is Bill Clinton: A Reckoning. Daniel Payne writing in The Federalist notes:

“A great example of this evasive genre can be found at The Atlantic, where Caitlin Flanagan has written an article titled, simply, “Bill Clinton: A Reckoning.” The article itself is actually not a reckoning of Bill Clinton or even an overture toward a reckoning.

“Indeed, Flanagan only comes to the sexual assault allegations leveled at Clinton only about two-thirds of the way through, after bringing up Clarence Thomas’s alleged sexual harassment of Anita Hill. She places most of the blame for Clinton on “machine feminism” rather than Democratic opportunism, then lamely asserts Democrats need to “come to terms” with how they “abandoned some of [their] central principles” in their unthinking defense of Clinton.”

And we reached the depths of stupid today when Vox.com, the intellectual journal for the unintelligent, proclaims Bill Clinton should have resigned. The article is by Matt Yglesias (this is a nice stab at a compendium of his wit and wisdom). Not all that long ago, Yglesias had this to say about the same issue:

https://twitter.com/SonnyBunch/status/930810078969593858

Perhaps alone on the left in honesty is Brian Beutler: BREITBART’S COMING EXPLOITATION OF THE BELIEVE WOMEN MOVEMENT.

Breitbart is notorious for amplifying hyperbolic and fabricated stories meant to undermine Democrats, pluralism, the entire liberal project, but they tend to specialize in fostering conspiratorial paranoia and racial panic (think Benghazi, and Shirley Sherrod). Their situational obsession with sexual misconduct isn’t typically built on fabrication, but deployed in the midst of real scandals to portray liberals as hypocrites and to damage Democrats (think Anthony Weiner, and Weinstein) or to portray minorities and immigrants as degenerates.

There is more than a kernel of truth at the bottom of the idea that Bill Clinton was a sexual deviant, or that he deserved more social and legal censure than he endured, but it is also farcical to imagine that Bannon and Breitbart were first and foremost interested in seeking justice. They ran factually questionable counter-ops in bad faith, to neutralize Trump’s liability, suggesting Hillary Clinton was, through her loyalty to Bill, similarly tainted. The psychological sabotage at the debate was an ancillary benefit. Now, Bannon has dispatched two minions to Alabama, to better smear Moore’s accusers. In Bannon’s world, conservatives in good standing are incapable of degeneracy, but white liberals and people of color are defined by it.

By extension, if future allegations appear in the right-wing agitprop press, they will be tainted by their unreliable narrators. The question of whether or not Breitbart or Sean Hannity actually had the goods on anyone would become subsumed into factional fighting and epistemological crises. The believe-women effort would be undermined, potentially twice over. First, because many people will understandably distrust allegations of misconduct if they’re ginned up by the bottom-feeders of Breitbart. Second, because if the accusations unravel, the believe-women movement will have sustained a terrible blow by failing on its own terms. (If you think Breitbart would be above framing a debunked sex abuse scandal they themselves fabricated as a reprising of the UVA or Duke lacrosse controversies, you are blissfully unacquainted Breitbart.)

The broader media, by contrast, would be as fixated upon the factual question as on the superficial similarity between knee-jerk conservative defenses of Roy Moore and liberal misapprehensions about the trustworthiness of right wing propaganda. Both sides aren’t the same, but the false parallel will be too delicious for many journalists to ignore.

Shorter: only allegations brought forth for the most noble of reasons–like clicks for the Washington Post–should be believed. He even appears to dismiss Andrew Breitbart’s exposure (hahaha) of Anthony Weiner as illegitimate.

Don’t believe this moralize claptrap for a second. The sole purpose of this newfound belief in the dignity of women is due to the fact that Roy Moore may lose a Senate seat. The moment a Democrat politician comes under scrutiny we’ll be back to Gloria Steinem defense of Bill Clinton on the allegations by Kathleen Wiley:

“Even if the allegations are true, the President is not guilty of sexual harassment. He is accused of having made a gross, dumb, and reckless pass at a supporter during a low point in her life. She pushed him away, she said, and it never happened again. In other words, President Clinton took ‘no’ for an answer.”

(This is a standard, by the way, that would completely exonerate Roy Moore.)

And Jim Carville will again be proclaiming, “Drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.”