by Ben Cohen
As hard as it might be to swallow for the left, it is now the time to disavow Bill Clinton and exorcise him from public life. After the wave of naming and shaming high profile celebrities and politicians for their grotesque behavior towards women, there can be no sacred cows. Bill Clinton must go the same way as all the other sexual predators have — down, and quickly.
I began to suspect Clinton may be guilty of rape and sexual assault after Donald Trump brought three accusers to a press conference before one of his debates with Hillary Clinton last year. While I thought the publicity stunt was appallingly crude and inappropriate given Hillary Clinton had not committed any crime against anyone, it did prompt me to look into the allegations against him. And to my horror, the stories seemed entirely credible, particularly that of Juanita Broaddrick who claims she was raped by Clinton in 1978, when he was Arkansas’ attorney general. Broaddrick has never sought to make money from her accusations, voted for Obama in 2008, and has generally shunned media attention (unlike some of Clinton’s other accusers, who also deserve to be believed but have murkier histories and at least on the face of it, less credibility). Her story is unnerving and those who refuse to listen to or believe her should be ashamed.
Having covered US politics for many years, I have learned to assume that most of the accusations hurled at the Clintons are baseless. They have been the victims of relentless Republican smear campaigns that have almost always turned out to be politically motivated and based on little more than conspiracy filled lies. There are so many ridiculous theories about the Clintons swirling around Republican circles that it is rarely worth investigating any of them. But Broaddrick — and others like Paula Jones who accused Clinton of sexual harassment, and Kathleen Willey who claims Clinton groped her without her consent — deserve to be believed. While I do have a degree of doubt about Jones and Wiley, I have a hard time doubting Broaddrick’s account of what happened to her. This passage from Buzzfeed’s story about Clinton and Broaddrick’s encounter in 1978 is particularly disturbing:
Clinton told Broaddrick to call his office if she was ever in nearby Little Rock. A few weeks later, she did just that while attending a nursing seminar there. They arranged to meet one morning in the coffee shop in the hotel where the seminar was held. At the last second, Clinton called up to Broaddrick’s room and asked if they could meet there instead, since there were reporters in the lobby below. She said yes. Minutes after entering her room, he tried to kiss her, she says, biting her upper lip, hard.
Shocked, Broaddrick says, she resisted Clinton, even telling him she was not only married, but having an affair with another man (who would later become her second husband). He ignored her, she says, and pushed her on the bed and raped her. Afterward, she says, he put his sunglasses on and told her to get some ice for her swollen lips before leaving the room.
“There was no remorse,” Broaddrick told me. “He acted like it was an everyday occurrence. He was not the least bit apologetic. It was just unreal.” She rushed to the door and locked it, she says, afraid that someone would come back in to kill her.
Two of Broaddrick’s friends who had also attended the nursing conference found Broaddrick in tears, her lips swollen and blue. She told them what had happened but made them swear not to tell anyone else. She was scared of retaliation, didn’t think anyone would believe her, and blamed herself for allowing Clinton to come up to her room.
“I had never known anybody that had been raped,” she told me. “I could not imagine anybody that could get in that situation and not get out of it.”
Soon after, Broaddrick says, she ran into Hillary Clinton at a political rally Broaddrick had promised friends she would attend. Hillary shook her hand and thanked her for everything she had done for Bill. To Broaddrick, the gesture felt like a threat to stay silent. As attorney general and later governor, Bill Clinton was “the main person that regulated my business and my income,” Broaddrick said. “After she said what she did to me, I just thought, I will keep quiet.”
If true — and I believe it is — Bill Clinton is a rapist who should be in jail for his crime rather than enjoying his privileged post presidential life.
I understand this is enormously difficult for liberals to hear given Clinton is a widely respected figure in the Democratic party. His name carries significant weight and he has been a central figure in the battle against Republican extremism. Clinton beat the GOP at its own game in the 1990’s, owning economic issues and building broad support in the South. He won two elections against Republican candidates and has done much good outside of office with his charitable work. But this does not protect him from his past crimes, and the left must come to terms with the fact that he is no more innocent of crimes against women than Donald Trump is.
While liberals must condemn Bill Clinton, this does not mean Hillary Clinton should be held accountable for the crimes of her husband. Republicans and Donald Trump have repeatedly attempted to conflate Hillary with her husband, always referring to ‘the Clintons’ during the 2016 campaign rather than Hillary herself. This repellent combination of misogyny and guilt by association worked well for the GOP paving the way for Trump’s shocking win in the general election. While Broaddrick claims Hillary Clinton ‘threatened’ her to remain silence about the rape, the details are not convincing and are so open to interpretation that it is impossible to make any judgment. Broaddrick told the Drudge Report in an interview in 1999 that:
“She [Clinton] came directly to me as soon as she hit the door … She caught me and took my hand and said: ‘I am so happy to meet you. I want you to know that we appreciate everything you do for Bill.’”
Based on this evidence there is no reason to assume that a) Clinton was aware that her husband had raped Broaddrick (and of course this would hardly be the story Bill would tell her) or b) she was actually threatening her.
This leaves Hillary Clinton completely in the clear, and no rational argument can be made to hold her accountable for any of her husband’s behavior, just as we can’t hold Melania Trump accountable for Donald Trump’s behavior, or Huma Abedin for Anthony Weiner’s etc, etc.
We will never truly know whether Bill Clinton is guilty of the crimes he had been accused of, but he is not exempt from the same judgment the public has subjected Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey to. Society is finally acknowledging the notion that women (and men) who claim to have been sexually assaulted should be believed. As long as the left refuses to hold Bill Clinton to account for his behavior towards women, Republicans will always have an answer to criticisms leveled against Trump. While Bill Clinton may be irrelevant politically, he is still an important public figure and liberals must own this.
“No liberal defended Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey, who might be going to jail,” said Bill Maher on his show recently. “Anthony Weiner is in jail. Louis C.K., we hear this week, did horrific things. Compare that to Trump and Roy Moore. We arrest our alleged rapists—they elect them. I mean, there’s a pig in the White House.”
This is broadly true, but with Bill Clinton still on the loose, he damages the left’s credibility when it comes to defending women and he must be thrown on the same trash heap as all the other despicable pigs he chose to behave like.
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