Dems to the Big Dog: Play dead

Go figure that more than a quarter-century of lechery — and worse — would finally make Democrats nervous. Ever since the #MeToo phenomenon exploded last fall (after almost a decade), the same Democrats who rushed to declare their support had to start answering questions about their tight relationships with known abusers, such as Harvey Weinstein and his deep pockets for the party. Now, Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere reports, they want all of those alleged perpetrators to keep their distance, including their former Perpetrator In Chief:

Democrats are looking to embrace the #MeToo moment and rally women to push back on President Donald Trump in the midterms—and they don’t want Bill Clinton anywhere near it.

In a year when the party is deploying all their other big guns and trying to appeal to precisely the kind of voters Clinton has consistently won over, an array of Democrats told POLITICO they’re keeping him on the bench. They don’t want to be seen anywhere near a man with a history of harassment allegations, as guilty as their party loyalty to him makes them feel about it. …

Privately, many Democratic politicians and strategists are harsher and firmer: Don’t come to their states, and don’t say anything about their campaigns. They are still worried about saying it out loud, but they don’t want him now, or maybe ever. They know Republicans would react by calling them — with good reason — hypocrites.

And in this political environment, Clinton campaigning anywhere would amount to him campaigning everywhere, forcing Democrats around the country to answer what they think of colleagues appearing with him, and whether they would do so themselves.

Just ask Kirsten Gillibrand about the problem. The senator from New York tried to make herself one of the political leaders of the movement, apparently hoping to increase her capital for a presidential run. She took the lead on forcing Al Franken out of the Senate without an opportunity to defend himself in an Ethics Committee investigation. When it came time to explain why she embraced Bill Clinton, a man whom two women have accused of rape and others of groping and sexual harassment, on the 2016 campaign trail, Gillibrand couldn’t get a coherent thought out of her mouth … three months after first having this hypocrisy raised:

I’d bet this clip from two weeks ago is what’s driving Democrats to tell Bill to stay home. It’s a question that is unanswerable. Women have accused Clinton of sexual assault, including Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey, for decades. Paula Jones took him to court over allegations of gross harassment; the blue dress forced Clinton to admit he’d lied about Monica Lewinsky and had been using his office for sexual predation. If the rallying cry is “believe the women,” then Democrats have no answer for their quarter-century of hypocrisy on this point. If they want to use that standard, then Bill has to go — and go completely.

Dovere provides another data point for Gillibrand’s faceplant being the catalyst, although the article never mentions it. Until just recently, Bill was adding dates to the calendar for personal appearances in House races:

All this reluctance about him would be a surprise to Clinton himself, who, according to a person familiar with his plans, has already received a number of preliminary requests from campaigns for advice and events. He’s had a few conversations with candidates, but hasn’t initiated the calls, the person said.

That may wind up hurting Democrats more than they realize. Clinton won’t help them with the #MeToo crowd, but he can help Democrats connect better with voters outside their urban-coastal enclaves. That’s where they really need help. Unfortunately, as they tell Dovere, campaigning anywhere does amount to campaigning everywhere in the modern media environment.

But if that’s the case, why are Democrats asking Hillary Clinton to campaign in the midterms? Not only does she bear culpability for attacking women who credibly accused Bill of sexual harassment and worse, she’s also covered it up on her own campaigns. Even just practically speaking, by the campaigning-anywhere-is-campaigning-everywhere standard, her re-emergence even in select districts in which she did well will be used by Republicans to highlight the Democrats’ lack of connection to voters — and their #MeToo hypocrisy.

Democrats should tell both Clintons to stay home. Permanently.