What Bill Clinton was really thinking

That part of the interview obscured another part that was just as important. We can now see the Clinton of the 1990s as a man far ahead of his times. Whose side are you on—mine or the people who want to destroy me—was the question that Clinton asked to successful effect in 1998. And it is the same question Donald Trump has made the basis of his presidency 20 years later.

That year of scandal was not about rule of law, Clinton argued in 1998, and it was not even about sex. It was about the battle for power. He thought then and still thinks now that Democrats lose by too often acting as if the political-media-scandal complex is on the level when Republicans prove every day that it is not. How else to explain a party that piously said the Constitution gave them no choice but to pursue Clinton’s moral failings over sex and lies but are tolerant and even celebratory about Trump’s failings over sex and lies and tax returns and Russia and cabinet scandals and on and on?

Progressives insist that an ex-president on their team find exactly the right words to express remorse and respect. Conservatives cheer when a president for their side starts his mornings free-associating on Twitter to express self-aggrandizement and contempt. This contrast, one feels sure, was what drove Clinton’s anger on the Today show.