For almost twenty years, Juanita Broaddrick has told a consistent story in public about her allegation that Bill Clinton raped her 38 years ago. Unlike other accusers, Broaddrick has not used her claims to gain financially; in fact, she had mostly disappeared for several years into a quiet retirement. When Hillary Clinton declared that women who claimed they’d been raped had “a right to be believed,” however, she went back to making her case public.
BuzzFeed’s Katie J.M. Baker offers a remarkable, balanced, and intriguing profile of the 73-year-old retiree who has been a reluctant warrior for a cause Hillary has tried to claim for her own:
Looking back, it seems that O.J. Simpson got away with not just murder, but also domestic violence. The sexual harassment allegations Anita Hill made about Judge Clarence Thomas would likely derail a Supreme Court nomination today — and the accuser wouldn’t be brushed aside as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.” In the ’90s, the media called Monica Lewinsky a “tramp”; now, she’s a celebrated anti-bullying spokeswoman. Bill Cosby is no longer “America’s Dad” but a “probable sexual predator.”
Juanita Broaddrick seems primed for the same modern reassessment. But the political implications of her claims are too disastrous for liberal politicians and pundits — the people who typically support self-declared rape survivors — to rally around her, especially this close to election day. That means only Clinton-hating conservatives are visibly incensed by her claims, and the more that they amplify Broaddrick’s story, the more skeptical progressives become.
That skepticism is remarkable, especially because progressives demand to have rape allegations treated as de facto convictions. That has been the premise behind the Obama administration’s changes to Title IX enforcement on campuses, which has eroded due process and pressured schools into putting the burden of proof on the accused in kangaroo-court settings. The slogan “the right to be believed” has been one of the rallying cries behind this perversion of due process, and Hillary’s adoption of it was no accident.
As Baker notes, when Broaddrick re-emerged after that declaration, Hillary clumsily tried to square the circle. “Well, I would say that everybody should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence,” Clinton replied, but that leaves the question open: Did she “believe” Broaddrick? No “evidence” has emerged to discredit Broaddrick’s allegation, no matter what Andrea Mitchell says. Broaddrick told others about the attack contemporaneously, and has stuck to her public story after getting forced to tell it during the Paula Jones lawsuit, as Baker notes.
And now, Hillary’s declaration about believing all allegations has disappeared down the memory hole, Baker discovers through Reddit:
A redditor also pointed out that Hillary Clinton’s campaign website appeared to have made some edits to its “campus sexual assault” page. Last winter, website archives show, a September 14, 2015, quote from Hillary ran across the top:
“I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault: Don’t let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed, and we’re with you.”
In February, shortly after Broaddrick’s viral tweet made headlines, the line “you have the right to be believed” was cut from the text. A video of the full remarks, that line included, is currently on the page. The Clinton campaign declined to comment on the change.
Broaddrick has already had an impact on the race. Baker notes that she’s a gift to Donald Trump, who has actually aired the allegation on national television back in January. One has to wonder whether Team Trump will return to this topic and exactly how they will manage it with a deft enough touch to make it stick.
Baker’s right about the shift in culture since the last time the Clintons had to defend Bill’s behavior with women. A “nuts and sluts” attack would backfire horribly, especially in regard to Broaddrick, who has comported herself with considerable grace over the last several decades, especially in these circumstances. She could do real damage, if the media plays by the progressive rules it has been championing ever since Bill left office. So far, though, they seem more interested in the same memory-hole treatment that Hillary employs.