The scumbaggery and moral relativism that were the hallmarks of the Bill Clinton White House have not mellowed with age.
In fact, they seem to have intensified as Clinton’s shameless defense of his inexcusable lechery has once again come to light.
In the age of #MeToo, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and TV stalwart Bill Cosby have faced or are facing criminal charges for their sexual misdeeds, proven in Cosby’s case and still alleged in the case of Weinstein. And there is a long and growing list of people facing similar allegations that they abused their power by victimizing their underlings.
The movement even claimed one U.S. senator’s career. Democrat Al Franken stepped down after multiple women claimed he made inappropriate advances toward them.
And on and on. We don’t have much problem believing many of these allegations. We know, either firsthand or from those close to us, that those in power frequently use it to their advantage. The victim, of course, is left to fear retribution is he or she is to report the incident or try to bring the abuser to justice.
Clinton’s tale of reprehensible behavior with a White House intern – and his subsequent lies under oath about the same – was a reminder decades ago about the ability of powerful men to get away with just about anything.
Since that time, we might have expected Clinton’s self-awareness to take hold and insist that he take responsibility for his infamous shortcomings.
But no. We now know that nothing in the way of atonement is imminent.
“I have never talked to her,” Clinton recently told NBC News’ Craig Melvin when asked if he had ever apologized to former intern Monica Lewinsky. “But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.”
Clinton seemed surprised and even self-righteously indignant that he was asked to explain his own sordid behavior against the backdrop of more recent scandals.
Clinton’s actions with Lewinsky weren’t exactly outliers. He for years had been plagued by accusations from various women of sexual harassment.
And for years, his defenders on the left looked the other way, ignoring his reprehensible actions and the list of his alleged victims, and urged the voting public to do the same.
After his televised interview, though, some of those people might at long last have seen the light. Even those who call themselves Democrats can be scumbags, it turns out. That must have been quite the revelation for people whose identities are so bound up in partisan politics.
His denial and his continued inability to see that he did something wrong are marvels to behold. It seems incomprehensible to anyone with a conscience, but he still sees himself as the victim in this tale of abuse and deception.
Clinton used the interview to play the whataboutism card. This little bit of intellectual dishonesty is used to justify actions by comparing them to someone else’s actions. In Clinton’s case, it meant asking, “What about Trump?” Clinton said the media have failed to sensationalize the allegations of sexual impropriety that have marked the current president’s time in the spotlight.
That may well be. We will know when we look back on it from a historical perspective.
For now, though, it is enough to know that what Clinton did was wrong. There isn’t really any way to see it differently. And everyone seems to recognize that except Clinton himself.
Is it any surprise that America’s voters – or the Electoral College anyway – collectively recoiled from the thought of him once again living in the White House?
Editorial Page Editor Michael Gorman can be reached at 448-7612 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.