“If you wanted to write the worst answer he could give,” Jake Tapper told Seth Meyer, Bill Clinton still couldn’t have done worse on a question about Monica Lewinsky and #MeToo. The CNN host pronounced himself “stunned” by Clinton’s backfire, but perhaps it might be all too explicable:
“Stunned,” Tapper said. “I’ve been amazed at how poorly he’s handled these questions. I mean, a lot of them you could have anticipated. The world has changed in just the last year.”
Tapper then told Meyers that he would have thought that Clinton would have prepared answers for the questions he’s been asked.
“Boy, some of the answers have been just — you couldn’t — if you wanted to write the worst answer he could give – it is almost as if… That one he did today about whether or not you can grope people,” Tapper said.
Clinton’s answer was bad, certainly, but was it really all that surprising? Perhaps when considering Bill Clinton’s usually adept political skills on topics apart from himself personally, the former president’s fumbling on a question about Monica Lewinsky would be surprising. But when it comes to personal criticism, Bill Clinton has almost always reacted badly. Remember the finger-wagging denial and Hillary Clinton’s “vast right-wing conspiracy” explanation of the Lewinsky scandal at the time?
Tapper’s right to marvel at Clinton’s lack of preparation for this line of questioning, but that’s also pretty understandable, too. The subject barely came up in the 2016 cycle when the Clintons were flat-out politicking, considered to be “old news.” Donald Trump raised the topic more than once, which might have had media outlets shy off from pursuing the issue.
With #MeToo such a hot topic, though, it seemed natural for reporters to ask Clinton about his prior acts, but it only came up the one time on a big book tour for a best-selling first novel. Clinton likely never expected it to come up at all, and the fact that it only came up the one time speaks volumes about why Clinton assumed that he’d skate by yet again. Don’t forget that it took a town-hall questioner and not a reporter to challenge Hillary’s “believe the women” rhetoric by demanding to know whether she believed her husband’s accusers … in the middle of a presidential campaign. Small wonder he prepared for softballs on his book tour, “changed world” or not.
There’s nothing particularly stunning about the Clintons reverting to form. It’s just stunning that the media forced Bill to do it. Other than the “stunning” part, though, Tapper’s spot-on about Clinton’s self-destruction.