The photo op happened in 2014, when Bush was 90 and already frail enough to require a wheelchair.
By “sexual assault,” I assume she means he pinched her butt. That would qualify as harassment coming from a superior at work, and unwanted sexual contact is unwanted sexual contact. He owes her an apology at least, if it’s true. But “sexual assault” is a strong term to use when the news is filled with stories of Harvey Weinstein raping people and Bill O’Reilly paying out $32 million settlements and James Toback dry-humping any female within arm’s reach. There’s a good argument not to call what Bush supposedly did by any other name: The further you get from the gravity of the term “sexual assault,” the more you signal that butt-pinching is acceptable behavior. But tell someone you’re a victim of “sexual assault” and the image they’re most likely to conjure up is something like hulking sleazebag Harvey Weinstein hovering over a woman in a hotel room, not an old buzzard on a Rascal showing how the boys paid a woman a “compliment” back in his day. Lumping what Bush is accused of in with Weinstein et al, where there’s an element of physical or professional menace, seems more likely to dilute the power of the term “sexual assault” than to build it up.
I know, I finish last in the Woke Olympics today. Oh well.
[W]hen I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo,” [actress Heather] Lind, 34, wrote.
“He didn’t shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again. Barbara rolled her eyes as if to say ‘not again.’ His security guard told me I shouldn’t have stood next to him for the photo.”…
“We were instructed to call him Mr. President. It seems to me a President’s power is in his or her capacity to enact positive change, actually help people, and serve as a symbol of our democracy. He relinquished that power when he used it against me and, judging from the comments of those around him, countless other women before me,” Lind wrote.
Bush’s spokesman replied: “President Bush would never — under any circumstance — intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind.” One other commonality between Weinstein, O’Reilly, and Toback is multiple accusers, but in Lind’s case so far it’s just her — for now. Maybe more women will have stories of Poppy Bush playing grab-ass? Worth noting, though: What set Lind off about Bush was seeing photos of Barack Obama greeting him warmly at last week’s hurricane relief concert. Pictured in the same photo was … Bill Clinton. Was she bothered seeing the rest of the ex-presidents palling around with him too or is she in the liberal school of not believing any of Clinton’s many accusers? If Juanita Broaddrick’s sexual assault claim can be disbelieved, I’m not sure what compels belief in Lind’s. And if Broaddrick’s claim can be believed, we should object to the warm greetings for Bill too, right?
Exit question via WaPo: Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy says he won’t rule out rehiring O’Reilly because, after all, “the bottom line is the recent accuser fully retracted all of her allegations.” Uh, where’d he get that idea? Ruddy can hire whoever he wants, but if you take nothing else away from this O’Reilly fiasco, at least understand that Lis Wiehl did *not* retract any allegations. That’s arguably the most amazing detail in the entire episode. Even with $32 million on the table, O’Reilly couldn’t squeeze an affidavit out of her that said plainly that he never committed misconduct. She’s a lawyer and she’s not going to say something in an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that she believes to be untrue. The fact that the affidavit had nothing in it that clearly exculpates O’Reilly is basically smoking-gun proof that she thinks she’d be perjuring herself by denying that what happened between them really happened.
Update: Bush’s account of the “sexual assault”: