Bill Clin­ton and #Mon­i­caToo

Bubba sings a fa­mil­iar song, but all the words have con­gealed as if in bit­ter satire

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Suzanne Fields

Bill Clin­ton is back, and as Yogi Berra might say, it’s deja vu all over again. Well, not quite. Any­one who watched his NBC-TV in­ter­view with Craig Melvin saw the for­mer pres­i­dent to be the same old leop­ard with the same old spots and the same old chutz­pah, but at 71, and out of power, he’s less pro­tected by friends in the me­dia and is con­se­quently less per­sua­sive. We’re all look­ing at the Clin­ton years through a clearer lens now, and his ex­pla­na­tions for wrong­do­ing range from un­be­liev­able to of­fen­sive to the stuff of satire.

Bubba is tour­ing now to pub­li­cize a novel he “co-wrote” with best-sell­ing nov­el­ist James Patterson, ti­tled “The Pres­i­dent is Miss­ing,” and it’s his most pow­er­ful piece of fic­tion since the day he looked into the cam­eras, wagged his bony fin­ger at us and an­nounced that “I did not have sex­ual re­la­tions with that woman, Miss Lewinksy.” Like Hil­lary’s book tour, his is a search for refuge in the af­ter­glow of his once dom­i­nat­ing pub­lic life. The piti­less glare of moral fail­ure con­tin­ues to lav­ish at­ten­tion on the Clin­tons, man and wife.

In light of the #MeToo move­ment, Bubba’s af­fair with Mon­ica Lewin­sky is seen through that dif­fer­ent lens this time, and puts em­pha­sis this time where it be­longs, on his abuse of power.

“He was my boss,” Miss Lewin­sky writes poignantly in Van­ity Fair, where she thinks again about how she was the vic­tim of Pres­i­dent Clin­ton. “He was the most pow­er­ful man on the planet,” she writes. “He was 27 years my se­nior with enough life ex­pe­ri­ence to know bet­ter. He was, at the time, at the pin­na­cle of his ca­reer. I was in my first job out of col­lege.”

Against her lamen­ta­tion on look­ing back, Bill Clin­ton tries to as­sume brag­ging rights for vic­tim­hood. He paid a price, too, he says, be­cause he was $16 mil­lion in debt when he left the White House. He ne­glects to add that he would soon earn six-fig­ure pay for mak­ing a sin­gle speech. He’s prob­a­bly the rich­est for­mer pres­i­dent of all, with per­sonal worth of $80 mil­lion. But put aside for a mo­ment his glib dis­missal of the dis­par­ity in money, power, and pro­fes­sional po­ten­tial be­tween him­self and “that woman” in the lit­tle blue dress. His most per­verse de­fense was in tak­ing pride in hav­ing pro­moted a sex­ual ha­rass­ment law when he was gov­er­nor of Ar­kan­sas.

Columnist Mark Steyn says that’s some­thing like get­ting a ticket for dou­ble park­ing and telling the traf­fic cop that “It’s O.K., of­fi­cer, I pro­moted the mu­nic­i­pal park­ing-lot ex­pan­sion bill.”

Hav­ing the right at­ti­tude and the cor­rect lib­eral point of view has al­ways en­abled the Clin­tons and their Demo­cratic sup­port­ers to trump judg­ment of char­ac­ter and be­hav­ior. But now that the party’s over and they’re the limp bal­loons float­ing over the dance floor, with no longer enough he­lium to stay above the rest of us, no longer pro­tected by friends and for­mer friends, they see Demo­cratic con­gres­sional can­di­dates run­ning in red states this year rat­ing their cam­paign help as risky to toxic.

The #MeToo move­ment has shifted the equa­tion for both Clin­tons. Hil­lary could march in sol­i­dar­ity with the sis­ter­hood to protest Don­ald Trump, but Bill’s re-en­try into the pub­lic spot­light re­vives his sex scan­dals and changes things. Hil­lary’s re­ac­tion to his ac­cusers has changed, too. Her de­scrip­tion of Mon­ica as “a nar­cis­sis­tic loony tune,” and their friends de­scrib­ing his ac­cusers as “trailer park trash,” sounds very dif­fer­ent now. #MeToo changed that.

What does sur­prise is how and why Bill Clin­ton, ad­mired in Wash­ing­ton for unerring po­lit­i­cal in­stincts, agreed without fore­thought to an­swer ques­tions now about how he has con­sid­ered again his cul­pa­bil­ity and re­morse about the woman who suf­fered his abuse of power two decades ago. In­stead of mak­ing a per­sonal apology to Mon­ica, he beams with pride that he had two women chiefs of staff when he was gov­er­nor of Ar­kan­sas (one of whom de­scribed her job as “deal­ing with ‘bimbo erup­tions’”), and says he has em­ployed only fe­male lead­er­ship in his of­fices since. This turns the per­sonal into the po­lit­i­cal, and mocks both.

He says he owes Mon­ica no private apology be­cause he had apol­o­gized to ev­ery­one pub­licly. But did he have any idea what he was apol­o­giz­ing for? Camille Paglia once ob­served that both Bill Clin­ton and Bill Cosby were both emo­tion­ally in­fan­tile and fa­ther fig­ures. They abused vul­ner­a­ble women by ruth­lessly us­ing them for ser­vic­ing, of­fer­ing nei­ther any­thing in re­turn.

Now Bill Clin­ton is out sell­ing an­other Clin­ton prod­uct, stuff­ing more mil­lions in his es­tate, and Mon­ica has be­come an ad­vo­cate to pro­tect young peo­ple from bul­ly­ing. Both have learned from ex­pe­ri­ence, but what a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence.

But put aside for a mo­ment his glib dis­missal of the dis­par­ity in money, power, and pro­fes­sional po­ten­tial be­tween him­self and “that woman” in the lit­tle blue dress.

Suzanne Fields is a columnist for The Wash­ing­ton Times and is na­tion­ally syn­di­cated.

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