Liddick: Slick Willie wades into the Me Too moment (column)
June 11, 2018
Is the long national nightmare at an end? Is it possible that the Clintons are finally over?
The initial phase of Bill Clinton's new book tour suggests the answer might be yes. In a "Today" show interview with Craig Melvin, the former chief executive appeared flummoxed by a predictable question about his sexual harassment of then-intern Monica Lewinski, referencing the ongoing "Me Too" movement. Eventually he found his feet and reverted to type. He tried to brazen it out, saying that even if it were today he would have done nothing different, because nowadays "people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts." As though his history, his ongoing peccadilloes and his leavings on a blue dress were imagined.
It had worked many times before; he was Bill Clinton, one side of the power couple To Whom Every Deference Is Owed. In the past such a display would have resulted in forelock tugging from the press. But this time, the interviewer was having none of it. Mr. Melvin asked Clinton if he had apologized to Ms. Lewinski. The resulting word cloud was classic Clintonese, mixing evasion with increasing dudgeon at being thus questioned by a mere plebe. "I did say, publicly, on more than one occasion, that I was sorry … The apology was public," the former president fumed. "I apologized to everyone in the world."
That didn't work, either; the interviewer followed up by asking if Clinton thought Monica Lewinski deserved a personal apology, to which he petulantly answered "no."
It was the sort of treatment rarely experienced by a Clinton, and it showed. By the end, he was testy and finger-wavy, which was not a good look for him; it reminded people of past incidents and untruths. But he seemed unable to control himself; the cool, smooth, self-possessed prevaricating rake that many had grudgingly admired was gone, replaced by a querulous old man with cornered-animal eyes. And then things went sideways.
The following day, Bubba was invited onto Stephen Colbert's show for a do-over. It wasn't better. The president continued with evasions and returned to the well-worn Clinton tactic of self-pity. He spoke of being "broke" when he left the White House, said that he was "mad at himself," and that "it was a very painful thing that happened 20 years ago … (I've) had to live with the consequences every day since." It was vintage Clinton: when attacked, pick up a pitchfork and join the mob. Maybe no one will notice that you were the original target. Above all, play the victim and pour the bathos on thick.
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The Clinton version of Hell followed that one. The Washington Post offered a public dissection of Bill's remarks on the "Today" show, giving the man three Pinocchios. Why there weren't 15, who knows — perhaps for old times' sake? Nor was that the end of it: questions and negative commentary from former Clinton stalwarts among the national media continued.
The other half of the Clinton machine has also been damaged, perhaps irreparably. Not only has the Missus gone about doing a good live-tableau version of Edvard Munch's "The Scream," she's made it a talkie. And in doing so, she's reminded us all of the greatest of the Clintons' talents: blaming others for their mistakes. Her 2016 loss was due not to missteps on her part, but to the racism and misogyny of the great mass of American voters, who were "irredeemably" stupid and vicious; it stemmed especially from the craven behavior of American women, who meekly did the bidding of their domineering husbands rather than thinking for themselves on election day. No wonder the Democratic party just wants them both to go away.
Doubtless one of the unspoken fears among progressives is that the Clintons' continuing trip down memory lane will finally result in a supermajority of Americans simply getting fed up with them — and with anyone associated with them, meaning most of the Democrat establishment. They must also be concerned that eventually one or two enquiring minds in the media will go beyond Clinton's connivances against Bernie Sanders to explore her corruptions of the organs of government themselves; corruptions impossible without active participation at the highest levels. This would lead directly to Questions Which Must Be Prevented At All Costs.
So the Clintons, who for decades controlled the Democratic party with an iron fist, are headed for the dustbin of history. The first cuts have already happened. More will follow in a slow but inexorable process, until the two are gone, one way or another.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily.