The feminist who used sexism to defend Bill Clinton

By the time Clinton became president, Wright was too burned out – and her scorched earth tactics had burned too many women — to serve in the White House. When the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, Wright wrote in the Arkansas Times: “It hurts. I’m so angry. I cry. I wonder why, why, why? It’s sad, infuriating, tragic, puzzling…. if Bill Clinton were in my reach I would be mightily tempted to bash him on his head and kick him in the shins.” Clearly, Clinton, like many other politicians, was a serial seducer, craving the adulation of women and crowds. Just as clearly, the Clintons had obsessive enemies, who treated false steps as premeditated felonies. And, confusingly, many of these enemies were pro-life opponents of the pro-choice Clinton, leading many feminists to excuse Clinton’s infidelities to protect cherished policies.

The ironies abound. Betsey Wright the feminist boosting a sexist slander. Hillary Clinton, the betrayed wife, not just standing by her man but trashing his accusers – no matter how true their story. Wright’s odd contribution to history, then, is sharpening the Clinton conundrum: how can a couple so committed to doing good behave so badly so often? Wright’s tale highlights the moral blind spot of the Clintons and their enablers. Their idealism, their liberalism, their faith in the good they hope to do, makes them excuse all kinds of lapses, from libeling innocent women to following their own rules regarding emails and government secrecy. The Clintons are not criminals; but they can be self-righteous slobs, imperious, indulgent, and inconsistent – and often bailed out by loyalists like Betsey Wright.