We are now being forced to relive the decades-old sex scandals of Bill Clinton, as Donald Trump tries desperately to shield and inoculate himself from well-earned charges of misogyny.
If we must go there, let’s go all the way. Let’s do this dirty laundry, as Kelly Rowland once crooned.
First, multiple women have accused Clinton of things ranging from sexual misconduct to rape.
But Clinton has maintained he had inappropriate sexual relationships with only Gennifer Flowers, a model and actress, and Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern.
Clinton was impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with his affair with Lewinsky.
Clinton was wrong for his affairs. But the problem was that many of the men condemning Clinton were shown to have their own infidelities.
Newt Gingrich later admitted cheating on his first wife (with whom he talked divorce terms while she was in the hospital for cancer) and on his second (which occurred while Gingrich led Clinton’s impeachment proceedings).
Into the void created by Gingrich’s departure stepped speaker-to-be Robert L. Livingston.
As The Chicago Tribune reported at the time:
“On the eve of the House debate to impeach President Clinton for lying about sex with Monica Lewinsky, House Speaker-elect Bob Livingston told his Republican colleagues Thursday night that he had strayed from his marriage and had adulterous affairs.’”
And Livingston wasn’t the only Republican moving to impeach Clinton who would be forced out of the shadows for his own sexual scandals.
Dennis Hastert, who became speaker in 1999, pleaded guilty last year to illegally structuring bank withdrawals to pay what prosecutors contend was hush money to a man Hastert had sexually abused as a child. As The Times reported in April, federal prosecutors asserted he “molested at least four boys, as young as 14, when he worked as a high school wrestling coach decades ago,” before Clinton’s impeachment hearings.
Henry Hyde, House Judiciary Committee chairman, admitted to a journalist during the proceedings that he’d had a five-year affair with a married woman decades earlier.
Dan Burton, House Government Reform and Oversight Committee chairman, was forced to admit he had a secret love child.
And, just last week, The Times reported:
“Kenneth W. Starr, the former independent counsel who delivered a report that served as the basis for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, was removed as president of Baylor University on Thursday after an investigation found the university mishandled accusations of sexual assault against football players.”
The sweep of karma and the level of hypocrisy is just staggering.
No wonder nearly two-thirds of Americans opposed Clinton’s impeachment, and he emerged from it with record-high approval ratings.
Now, Trump wants to dip into this muck again, even though he has had his own extramarital affair.
Nine days after Clinton admitted his affair with Lewinsky, Trump seemed to support him.
Last week, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen explained Trump’s defenses of Clinton during the sex scandals, saying Trump was trying to “protect a friend.” And yet, he lambasted Hillary Clinton as an “enabler” for trying to protect a husband?
It’s all distasteful, but it also doesn’t jibe. And, aside from the unshakable feeling that there is something tragically off about using a husband’s philandering against a wife, I also doubt the public will have much stomach for these stories, just as it didn’t in the 1990s.
Dirty laundry, done.