Bill Downplays Franken Harassment Days After Claiming Lewinsky Doesn't Deserve An Apology


I’m not entirely sure what William Jefferson Clinton was thinking, if anything, when he embarked on a book tour with James Patterson, with whom he’s “co-written” a thriller called “The President is Missing.”

Clinton apparently hasn’t noticed that the Monica Lewinsky scandal — and his other alleged sexual misdeeds — have arisen again in the post-Harvey Weinstein era, and this time even some Democrats aren’t reflexively rushing to his side.

First there was his interview with Craig Melvin of “Today,” in which Melvin discovered the minatory side that arises whenever you ask Clinton a question which is based on the bedrock assumption that he’s in any way responsible for his own actions. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well.) Clinton claimed he didn’t owe Lewinsky an apology for dragging her through the mud by not acknowledging an affair until he was forced to, saying he’d made public apologies and that was enough. He also seemed to get seriously peeved Melvin was going to ask these things at all.

The former president tried to redeem himself when, in an appearance in the safe environs of Stephen Colbert’s show, a well-rehearsed Clinton insisted he was “mad at me” over the interview, although he didn’t go far enough as to take responsibility for it.

“But the important thing is, that was a very painful thing that happened 20 years ago, and I apologized to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family, and to the American people,” Clinton said. A very painful thing that happened, not a very painful thing that he did. Nice.

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At this point he considered it advisable to continue the book tour, apparently convinced — like Clark Griswold at the wheel of an ever-deteriorating wood-paneled station wagon — that the worst was indeed behind him and that this whole thing was going to hold together until he reached Wally World safely, along with Patterson and whatever remains of his legacy.

Then came the unfortunate decision to speak to PBS’ Judy Woodruff. Say what you will about Woodruff — and there’s plenty to be said, what with the fact that state-funded journalism tends to lilt to the left to the fact that her interview with Clinton doesn’t exactly seem to have been tough enough — but she is from a generation of journalists that, while they might have been flagrantly for the left, still believed that you actually had to ask questions with some substance.

There weren’t a lot of the, “So, President Trump: worst president ever or worstest president ever?” queries to be found here. Instead, Woodruff did something journalists of and from the left have avoided so far.

She asked about Al Franken.

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“I assume that you think that what happened with you was more serious than what happened with senator — former senator — Al Franken,” Woodruff said. “He was driven from office, from the U.S. Senate. So norms have changed. Do you think that’s a good thing?”

One look at the two gentlemen (well, two men, at the very least) as she drops that bit is priceless. Patterson looks like someone who’s yet again realizing, with no insignificant amount of agita, just how poor of a life decision he’s made by embarking on this collaboration and the subsequent tour.

Clinton, on the other hand, looks absolutely floored that someone deigned to ask him this question again. And yet, as you can almost see him slide into pugnaciousness, he must have realized what happened when he did that with Melvin. And Melvin wasn’t of the distaff gender. Just think how this will look on the morning shows if he pulls the same stunt with someone who doesn’t have a Y chromosome.

“I think it’s a good thing that we should all have higher standards,” a tentative Clinton began. “I think the norms have really changed in terms of, what you can do to somebody against their will, how much you can crowd their space, make them miserable at work. You don’t have to physically assault somebody to make them, you know, uncomfortable at work or at home or … just walking around. That, I think, is good.”

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It’s good to see that Bill Clinton understands sexual harassment and abuse on the same level as a third-grader’s report on democracy. Things inexplicably managed to get worse from there.

“I think that — I will be honest — the Franken case, for me, was a difficult case, a hard case. There may be things I don’t know. But I — maybe I’m just an old-fashioned person, but it seemed to me that there were 29 women on ‘Saturday Night Live’ that put out a statement for him, and that the first and most fantastic story was called, I believe, into question.”

The “first and most fantastic story” in the Franken matter, in case you’ve forgotten, is the one that had a photograph to back it up. This is pure Richard Pryor: Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes? And nothing on the numerous other women who accused Franken of misconduct.

But, oh, that old-fashioned Bill Clinton. He thinks that once you get 29 women from “SNL” to vouchsafe for your character, or at least that you didn’t sexually humiliate them, you’re innocent, right? I mean, that’s how it was done in the old days.

There’s hardly a word that rings true in that part of the response, or that Clinton should even have the right to say — up to and including “I will be honest,” four words that never bode particularly well when they’re used as a prefix for anything.

It’s ironic that Franken — a leering weasel, yet not to the extent that Clinton was — had the good sense to resign his office and sorta-kinda-not really take responsibility for what he had done. Clinton, nearly 20 years after impeachment, hasn’t apologized to Lewinsky for trying to save himself by portraying her as a star-struck bimbo and fabulist.

And he won’t even broach the subjects of Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick or Kathleen Willey.

When he’s willing to do all of that, Clinton can hypocritically defend Franken and field softball questions from the likes of Colbert all he wants. After all, we expect nothing less from the former president at this point.

Until then, this is yet more proof of exactly who Bill Clinton is: a serial cad and probably worse, a man who’s hidden behind his liberal bona fides for decades and raised his hackles whenever the Democrat card doesn’t get him out of trouble. He may say he’s “mad at me,” but that’s nothing on the vexation all the women left in his satyrical wake have experienced.


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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture