I apologize that I’m vague on the details of the story I’m about to share, but there are real people who might be embarrassed if I were to name names.
The year was 1999. I was looking for a job, and I found myself in Washington, DC talking to a former high-level Clinton administration staffer, one you would likely recognize if I were to tell you his name. He referred to his former boss, casually, as “that crazy rapist over on Pennsylvania Avenue.” This was not long after Juanita Broderick had made a credible charge that Bill Clinton, then Attorney General of Arkansas, had forced himself on her and then told her to that she’d “better put some ice on that” when he saw her lip was bleeding. This staffer made it very clear that he believed the charge, and he was glad to be out of the Clinton administration, because “you never knew what was going to come out next.” Yet, to date, he has never publicly said a word against his former boss, even though he believes he is guilty of rape. Rape!
Perspective is necessary here.
In Bill Clinton, you have a man who committed an act of sexual violence against another woman and went on to be President of the United States. This same man also had an affair in the Oval Office with a woman barely old enough to avoid charges of statutory rape. Clinton then lied about the same affair under oath, and, today, is lionized as one of the great heroes of the Democratic Party, largely because he refused to take responsibility for his behavior. Again, this is a man who groped a distraught supporter when she came into his office on the day her husband killed himself. Clinton propositioned her, grabbed her in a big bear hug and placed her hand on his erect penis.
The intelligentsia told those of us who thought this pattern of behavior reflected poorly on a president that we were prudes, fetishists, unsophisticated rubes. Feminist Gloria Steinem wrote a column saying Clinton was well within his rights to grope Kathleen Willey, because when she said no, he didn’t rape her, although she avoided mentioning that he didn’t pay the same courtesy to Juanita Broderick. But we were all encouraged to move on, nothing to see here. (MoveOn.Org got its name from this auspiciously tawdry era.)
Yet less than a decade earlier, when Clarence Thomas was accused of saying crude things about pubic hairs on soda pop cans, we were told that he was woefully unfit for high office. Scads of women ran for Congress the following year to protest the confirmation of this foul predator to the Supreme Court. That led to the Year of the Woman and the election that first inflicted Barbara Boxer and dumbest-woman-alive Patty Murray on an unwitting nation. (Patty Murray, you’ll recall, is the woman who praised Osama bin Laden for all the day care centers he built, presumably for the burqa’d gal on the go. Seriously.)
Seven years later, these same woman who built their political fortunes on furor over unsubstantiated charges of crude remarks by a potential Supreme Court justice thought that far more credible charges of rape against a sitting president, along with proven demonstrations of sexually predatory behavior coupled with perjury, were really no big deal, and the country should move on.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
I’ve made it clear on this blog that I don’t much like Herman Cain. I think his tax plan is asinine, and I think he lacks the intellectual preparation and firepower to serve as the nation’s chief executive. I would like nothing more than to see his campaign go down in flames, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand idly by and watch him get excoriated by the same elitists who told me not that long ago that only puritans care about sexual predators in the White House.
As of this writing, we still don’t know what it is Cain is accused of having done. We have plenty of reports that he ought to be handling the accusation better, but even there, I have no idea what that means. He claims nothing happened. What else is he supposed to do? And if he’s lying, so what? Doesn’t everyone lie about sex? Wasn’t that the primary intellectual takeaway of the Clinton years? MoveOn.org, why shouldn’t we move on from this one?
It’s not just Clinton, of course. Which GOP Senator could have drunkenly driven a girl off a bridge and left her to drown and still retained his Senate seat and gotten the kind of hagiographic eulogy Ted Kennedy got? If the National Enquirer had reported that Mitt Romney had fathered a love child on the campaign trail, would the Washington Post have issued memos insisting there be no discussion of Romney’s circumstances, as they did with John Edwards? What does it say about us that partisanship plays any part at all in how we address sexual scandal?
I’m not surprised people are rallying around Cain. Crap on a stick, I’m rallying around Cain, and I can’t stand the guy. What the media is missing is that this outpouring of solidarity with Cain has very little to do with Cain as a candidate or a human being. It’s revulsion at a double standard so obvious that maybe even Patty Murray should be able to notice. (Which, of course, she won’t, because she has to pick up her grandkids over at Taliban Toddlers before 5:00.)