The cynicism is breath-taking — which must mean that it is quite unconscious. That’s what the hyper-partisanship of our government-by-scandal media culture has done to its most enthusiastic participants. Just look at the column in The New York Times by Michelle Goldberg headed: “I Believe Juanita.”
In this #MeToo moment, when we’re reassessing decades of male misbehavior and turning open secrets into exposes, we should look clearly at the credible evidence that Juanita Broaddrick told the truth when she accused Clinton of raping her. But revisiting the Clinton scandals in light of today’s politics is complicated as well as painful. Democrats are guilty of apologizing for Clinton when they shouldn’t have. At the same time, looking back at the smear campaign against the Clintons shows we can’t treat the feminist injunction to “believe women” as absolute. Writing at Crooked.com, Brian Beutler warns that in future elections, right-wing propaganda will exploit the progressive commitment to always taking sexual abuse charges seriously. It’s easy to imagine an outlet like Breitbart leveraging the “believe women” rallying cry to force mainstream media coverage of dubious accusations.
They are “dubious,” that is, because they are made against people whom those on their side find it politically imperative to protect, as they no longer do the Clintons. The insouciance with which, like Mr Beutler, Ms Goldberg simply assumes that accusations of sexual harassment, assault or other misbehavior are to be judged according to their political usefulness or otherwise is so shameless that she can hardly be aware of her own bad faith, presumably because she shares it with so many others on the left.
In another column, this one on the allegations against Senator Al Franken by Leeann Tweeden, she frankly considers the pros and cons of the senator’s prospective resignation by noting that she is free to do so at least partly because “a Democratic governor would appoint his successor.” I guess the optimistic reading of this kind of thing is that she doesn’t feel she has to pretend to be motivated solely by an outraged sense of decency since everyone now assumes that the media will promote and pursue scandal or soft-pedal it for their own political purposes — as, of course, politicians do too.
For example, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:
“Yes, I think that is the appropriate response,” Ms. Gillibrand, New York Democrat, told The New York Times when asked if Mr. Clinton should’ve stepped down after his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, then in her early 20s, was revealed. Ms. Gillibrand did tell the newspaper that she believed circumstances are different today, however, and what is now deemed a “fireable offense” was more tolerated in the 1990s. “Things have changed today, and I think under those circumstances there should be a very different reaction,” Ms. Gillibrand told The New York Times. “And I think in light of this conversation, we should have a very different conversation about President Trump, and a very different conversation about allegations against him.”
The Clintons, of course, could point out, with “former Clinton adviser” Philippe Reines, the obvious hypocrisy of “accepting donations and endorsements from both Hillary Clinton and her husband for several years,” when they could be helpful to her, and only now that they can be of no further usefulness, turning on them with belated condemnations. But the rest of us are likely to read comments like hers and Ms Goldberg’s as Byron York does in a Tweet
Think what Gillibrand, many in lefty press are saying is: It would be easier for us to attack our enemies today if we didn’t have a history of scorched-earth defense of sexual misconduct in the 1990s. Therefore, we now think Bill Clinton should have resigned.