I wonder how long the liberal second look at Bill Clinton’s behavior will last. Is it a permanent part of his legacy now, even on the left, or is it something that Democrats will sweep back under the rug after he eventually passes away, to preserve the usefulness of his legacy in future political battles?
Whatever the answer, his twilight years will be much, much more awkward than he expected they’d be 13 months ago.
Via YouGov and HuffPost, a bitterly divided America has at last reached consensus on one thing. The question: Do you find credible the sexual harassment/assault allegations against…
Those numbers mirror a change in the Democratic zeitgeist that’s playing out to queasy effect on the op-ed pages and on social media. Here’s a fun exchange between Juanita Broaddrick and “comedian” Chelsea Handler:
Imagine being molested by an older man. Then that man denies ever doing it and then goes on and gets elected to United States senate. What kind of message does that send to young girls everywhere? And men to all the men who abuse women?
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) November 12, 2017
Yeah, @chelseahandler I can imagine. I was raped by the Arkansas AG who then becomes Governor & President and NBC held my interview explaining the rape until after his impeachment hearing. But I'm sure you don't want to go there. https://t.co/s9W8NZsaZ3
— Juanita Broaddrick (@atensnut) November 13, 2017
I’m sorry I’m just seeing this, @atensnut. You are right and I apologize to you for not knowing your story. Democrats along with Republicans and the rest of the worlds’s political parties all need to do better and respect the firsthand accounts of victims. I believe you. https://t.co/VDIFmCvg7g
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) November 16, 2017
Broaddrick’s never going to get justice in court but there’s hopefully some emotional satisfaction for her in seeing the worm turn against Bill at long last among the people who elected him, even if the reason for it is political expedience. Back to the poll, though. What about Republican views of the allegations against Trump? If Hillary voters are experiencing a Weinstein-fueled awakening about the credibility of the accusations against Clinton, are Trump voters experiencing a similar awakening about the credibility of Trump’s accusers?
Again, expedience is the key. Clinton can be safely sacrificed by Democrats to advance the good cause of deterring other sexual malefactors and the political cause of defeating Roy Moore and, eventually, Trump. They no longer have any use for Clinton politically whereas the GOP’s political fortunes depend upon Trump’s accusers not being believed. A fun fact from HuffPost: A Fox News poll taken in 1999 found that 79 percent of Democrats thought Broaddrick’s accusations weren’t worth investigating because the alleged incident happened 20 years before. That “incident” involved rape, according Broaddrick. Yet nearly four in five Dems were willing to shrug it off as old news.
This result is harder to explain away, though:
Despite all the reporting over the last month about women coming forward after keeping quiet for years out of fear (Harvey Weinstein alone has more than 100 accusers), 58 percent of Trump voters believe that false allegations of sexual harassment happen as often or *more* often as actual unpunished or unreported harassment does. Er, what? The United States Congress has apparently paid out $15 million to settle sexual harassment suits among its own members and staff over the last decade or so. Many other women on Capitol Hill who have been harassed are whispering to reporters about it but are unwilling to go on the record for fear of repercussions. Within our own government, in other words, it’s a cinch that there are more unpunished incidents of harassment than there are false allegations. Lord only knows what the ratio is like across American society writ large.
Exit question: Is it time?