#YouToo Bill | Sarah Stook
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman…Miss. Lewinsky.”
Scandals have been inevitable in US politics since the XYZ affair under John Adams. The Lewinsky scandal in the 90s, the scandal that nearly ended the presidency of Slick Willie himself Bill Clinton, is one that has hung over the head of the 42nd President for twenty years. Every so often, the scandal blows into the news, most often during the 2016 election when Hillary Clinton went up against alleged sexual predator Donald Trump. This time, it has really shaken things up.
Doing the circuits recently promoting his book The President is Missing with popular author James Patterson, he was interviewed by American network NBC. Sitting across from the anchor, Clinton found himself in that familiar but still uncomfortable line of questioning regarding his most infamous relation. For years, he has listened to that question and we should expect that he, the master of the tongue, would have perfected his answer. Oh, how wrong we were.
Revelation One: Poor Bill *cue violin music* ‘Nobody believes that I got out of that for free. I left the White House $16million in debt.’
Revelation Two: He has never personally apologised to Lewinsky and does not believe he owes it to her.
Revelation Three: He doesn’t always agree with the MeToo movement, but broadly supports it.
Let’s back track a little. The affair between Clinton and Lewinsky was first and foremost consensual (we’ll get to the accusations later), done between two people with a lust for one another. Clinton is not exactly Chastity Clinton. Lewinsky slept with a married man with a child. Now, regular readers will know this writer’s dislike of Hillary Clinton, but she did not deserve to be humiliated like this. There were several encounters, all of which occurred in the Oval Office, the sacred office of American democracy. It was a two-way affair, simple BUT one cannot deny who is the most at fault. Yes, Monica Lewinsky had an affair with a married man- not ok, but look at it like this. She was twenty two which may be an age we except people to know better, but she was a young woman in the White House who went starry eyed for the older, charismatic president. Clinton was popular with women and the idea of the fawning intern may not have been alien to him. Many politicians will have this, especially when they’re as powerful as Clinton. He should have known better. So had she, but he really should have. Whilst Clinton having an affair out of office would be morally wrong, it would not be making his presidency questionable. He had sexual contact with a woman twenty seven years his junior, a woman who could easily be his daughter- and was only eight years older than Chelsea. That, out of the Oval Office, would not be as wrong. Lewinsky, however, was an intern and a woman who was many rungs lower on the ladder in the White House. It was inappropriate and he was taking advantage of a girl who was excited. Lewinsky fell in love with him- wrong, foolish but she was essentially naive as to what she was doing. Part of her knew it was wrong with a married man, but that other part of her loved him, the charismatic boss with the smile. Would she have done it with another President or high ranking politician? We do not know. Would Clinton have done it with another lower ranking official? Considering his sexual history, not a surprise.
Clinton nearly got impeachment but survived, left with record approval ratings and is still popular amongst many. Of course he left with debt; many Presidents did before they were given a pension. Famously, President Eisenhower said that you can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook. Yes, a $16 million debt is probably not ideal, but Clinton is far from being the poorest President and I think it’s safe to say he definitely made that money back from it, especially with his wife in the picture. Though he is still disliked by many, he is still lionised by others and is a respected political figure in a way that Nixon was not (though Watergate was arguably worse). Lewinsky, on the other hand, did not. For years, she was hounded by press and still receives a level of interest that makes normal life unsustainable. Though she did find life in the media, the attention she received made life hard and she headed to London for a few years to escape it. Only recently, Lewinsky was disinvited to an event because Bill Clinton was attending, something she lamented on Twitter- as she should, that was inappropriate. Again recently, Lewinsky announced that she had been diagnosed with PTSD following the scandal. Now, many will mock this as they will associate PTSD with veterans and more serious events, but mental illness is not a particularly nice thing and it is not something one must endure. We do not know if Clinton has ever suffered from mental health issues but assuming he has not, I think we know who has done best out of the affair.
As for Clinton privately apologising to Lewinsky, that’s relatively easy: he owes it. Again it was consensual, but it’s pretty easy to say that he knew exactly what he was doing with her. Just a quick apology for what she had to go through once the affair went public wouldn’t go amiss. It’s not like he’s apologising for the sexual affair, he’s just apologising for what occurred in the aftermath. Essentially, it was abuse of power from an older, more powerful man.
The #MeToo support, though- really?
Now, Clinton is known for his consensual affair with Lewinsky but is also known for accusations. Katherine Willey’s accusations were deemed false by a grand jury, though Willey still swears that she was groped against her will and Linda Tripp, who testified against her during the trial, later said she believed Willey was correct. That leaves two others: Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones. Broaddrick’s accusation of rape stemmed from 1978. Working as an orderly at a nursing home, Broaddrick was invited to Clinton’s hotel room after she expressed interest in campaigning for him. He then raped her. Jones’ story comes from later, in 1991. When she arrived at his hotel room, she says that he propositioned her before exposing himself to her. These charges are serious. Propositioning is not a crime, but exposure and rape are, two crimes which could land serious jail time in the strict American courts. Clinton has never been charged with these crimes and continues to strenuously deny them, whilst Broaddrick and Jones continue to stick to their stories to this day. Camp Clinton and their supporters have thrown mud at Donald Trump after the infamous tape was released, but it is definitely fair to say that they should look at themselves in the mirror as well.
Again, Bill Clinton has sailed through these accusations with the wind beneath his wings. Even after the accusations came out, he managed to secure two terms as a popular president and remains wholly liked by many Democrats- unlike his wife. For Broaddrick and Jones, their lives have not been so simple. No woman should have to go through that, especially considering there is no evidence that they have made false accusations. The worst part of it comes from so called ‘feminists’ on the left, whose adoration of Hillary and love for Bill due to his apparently women-friendly policies. In 1998, feminist heroine Gloria Steinem wrote an opinion editorial in the New York Times. This op-ed was, charitably, a lot of bull. The most damaging part occurs around halfway through with the following delightful sister supporting passage:
‘Nevertheless, the President’s approval ratings remain high. The truth is even if the allegations are true; the President is not guilty of sexual harassment. He is accused of making a gross, dumb and reckless pass at a supporter during a low point in her life. She pushed him away, she said, and it never happened again. In other words, President Clinton took ‘no’ for an answer.’
As the op-ed was written before Broaddrick’s accusation, it does not cover it and instead discusses Willey and Jones. The passage just mentioned discusses the Willey accusation, following on an explanation as to why Steinem believes that is more damaging than what Jones has said. If you believe what Willey has said, this was definitely not a dumb pass. He apparently kissed her against her will, touched her breasts and forced her to touch his genitals. That is not a silly young boy trying to hit on a girl in a bar- that is sexual harassment far from a ‘reckless pass.’ Steinem continues that it didn’t happen again, which I’m sure is totally fine for Willey if he did grope her like she said. Clinton did not apparently take no for an answer, because he didn’t even ask a question.
Is that acceptable? God no. Neither is what happened nearly twenty years later. Joy Behar is a presenter on The View, a programme akin to our Loose Women (whether it’s as awful, I don’t know). She is no stranger to controversy, such as when she said that Vice President Mike Pence is mentally ill because of his Christian views (she had to grovel for that). Two years earlier, in 2016, the issue of Bill Clinton’s accusers came up and Behar kindly called them tramps. Yes, women who had accused a man of sexual assault are apparently tramps. Now, imagine if they’d accused a Republican President of such acts- Behar would be paying their legal fees. Instead, she uses a horrible slur like that. She later apologised but let’s be realistic, she probably only apologised to keep her well paying job.
Steinem and Behar are both on the left, Steinem especially a feminist icon. They engage in victim blaming, the kind of thing we see in third world countries when women are raped because they dared leave their home. Though these women are in no way sluts, they have still been slut-shamed by Behar because of the connotation of tramps- loose in their morals, free-wheeling to put it in the politest terms. Slowly but surely, these accusations that Jones and the others have made are starting to be listened to due to the Weinstein effect. When Trump caused controversy, they ignored it. When the well known liberal Weinstein caused controversy, they thought ‘hm, maybe all Democrats aren’t sweet women lovers.’ Why has it taken the #MeToo movement to get that little bit of justice for the women?
Perhaps that’s why Clinton doesn’t agree with everything about #MeToo, because it has forced him to face the demons that others have hidden for him.
It’s not #MeToo for Clinton- it’s #YouToo.