Stephen Colbert to Bill Clinton: You want a do-over on that trainwreck NBC interview on Monica Lewinsky?

The money line here from the Clenis, describing the Lewinsky saga 20 years ago: “That was very painful for me.” He got elected president by feeling everyone else’s pain. Now he’s feeling his own.

Normally an acidic satirist, Colbert is scrupulously polite here, even agreeing with Clinton co-author/sycophant James Patterson on what a wonderful person Bill is, his treatment of women notwithstanding. That’s the way of the world with America’s late-night heroes: Ivanka Trump’s a “feckless c*nt” while Clinton, one of the most notorious #MeToo malefactors in modern American history, receives the warmest of welcomes because his politics are Correct. But watch and you’ll see that Colbert deserves a little credit, first politely challenging Clinton’s suggestion that this is all in the past and then uncorking this, which made me simultaneously smile and cringe at its bluntness: “You seemed offended to be asked about this thing [in the NBC interview] when, in all due respect sir, your behavior was the most famous example of a powerful man sexually misbehaving in the workplace of my lifetime.” As a matter of basic human nature, it’s hard to sit across from someone whom you respect for other reasons and remind them, with the whole world watching, that they’re one of the most infamous workplace harassers you’ve ever encountered.

Don’t give him too much credit, though. Colbert’s a progressive heartthrob who would have heard grumbling from his own fans if he’d let Clinton slide on #MeToo questions. Party affiliation buys you only so much grace on that, as Harvey Weinstein has discovered. He *had* to press him, whether he wanted to or not. And importantly, Colbert was willing to be only so confrontational in the name of wokeness: The words “Juanita Broaddrick” aren’t uttered here despite the fact that what happened to her is a far more egregious example of sexual misconduct than what Lewinsky suffered.

Broaddrick presents a special problem for Clinton’s celebrity admirers. If you take the position that she’s telling the truth, how can you socialize with him? With Monica you can tell yourself that, after all, everything was consensual even if the power gap between the president of the United States and an intern makes “consent” a more complicated subject than it usually is in affairs. With Broaddrick the claim is rape. If you believe her, Clinton should be shunned by polite society, full stop. If you don’t believe her, you’re pitting yourself against a self-professed rape victim, knowing that women have traditionally had a hard time getting people to believe them when they claim sexual assault — especially when their assailant is a powerful man. The only thing to do for a Democrat in good standing like Colbert is to ignore the topic. If Broaddrick doesn’t exist, you don’t need to resolve this dilemma.

The interview’s embedded below. Your exit quotation: