#MeToo? Star guest at last night's Andrew Cuomo birthday party fundraiser was ... Bill Clinton

Here’s where I remind you that the junior senator from New York said recently that in hindsight Clinton should have resigned over his treatment of Monica Lewinsky. Granted, she was grossly opportunistic and hypocritical in taking that position, but doing so did have the useful effect of nudging Democrats towards viewing Bill as a malefactor amid the #MeToo awakening. And malefactors, you would think, wouldn’t be welcome at formal Democratic functions.

Nah, I’m just kidding. Ted Kennedy spoke at Democratic conventions for decades after Chappaquiddick. He won 12 primaries against an incumbent president in 1980, for fark’s sake! Voters on both sides don’t much care about sexual misconduct by their political all-stars. Penance is made through policy victories.

But they pretend to care, sometimes more and sometimes less, and right now happens to be an instant when Democrats are really pretending to care. They finally dislodged John Conyers from the House after a thousand years of service and followed up by shoving Al Franken towards the door. At this moment of high wokeness about sexual abuse, they’re keeping their distance even from men accused of comparatively minor misconduct, as Franken was.

With one shining exception.


If you’re desperate to let Cuomo and the Democrats wriggle off the hook for booking the Clenis at Cuomo’s birthday shindig, you might note that he agreed to appear many weeks ago. It was announced in late October, creating a dilemma for Dems as public outrage generated by the media’s coverage of sexual misconduct spiraled. The only thing more awkward than having Bill Clinton speak at the fundraiser, as he was scheduled to do, would have been to not have him speak by disinviting him. Political media would have gone berserk. Were Democrats formally excommunicating Bill? Does this mean the party, or at least Andrew Cuomo, now believes Juanita Broaddrick? What else will Bill not be allowed to attend due to his transgressions? All the party wanted to do here was shake loose some coin from well-heeled donors by giving them an opportunity to hear Clinton speak. They concluded they’d suffer less embarrassment from sticking with that plan than by suddenly canceling him.

But if that’s your excuse for shrugging at Bill’s cameo last night, I have two questions. One: Does this mean he won’t be invited to future Democratic functions? The #MeToo moment is in full flower now, with growing attention even on the left to Clinton’s misdeeds. It’s one thing to keep an appointment that was scheduled before, but what’s the explanation for booking him going forward? Two: The Weinstein expose in the NYT that ignited all of the #MeToo coverage appeared in early October. Several weeks of revelations about him and other men followed. Only at the end of the month was Clinton’s participation in last night’s Cuomo fundraiser announced. If heightened awareness of predatory bosses is now the verrrrrrry belated justification for making Bill a party pariah, well, that awareness had already been somewhat heightened by the time Cuomo lined him up for last night’s event. In which case, why’d he line him up?

If Democrats don’t make Clinton scarce, they’re going to run into more and more apologias for Trump of the sort Ron Johnson engaged in this morning on CNN. Frankly, they’re going to run into those apologias anyway, but it’ll be harder for the GOP to get political traction with them if Bill has been quasi-exiled. Meanwhile, I can’t help but wonder how tremendously awkward it would be right now if Hillary had eked out a victory last fall and America went on to experience the #MeToo moment anyway, with First Gentleman Bill Clinton in a media spotlight every day. Righties like to say that there would have been no #MeToo coverage if Hillary had won precisely because it would have caused problems for her and Bill. Eh, I don’t know. The Weinstein revelations had been percolating for years; I give the Times and Ronan Farrow more credit than to believe they would have flushed so much evidence of horrific abuse just to do Hillary a favor. It may be that fewer other men would have been implicated in that alternate reality than have been implicated in ours over the last few months, but maybe Weinstein, the famous liberal, alone would been enough to get people looking at Bill again.

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