Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Back To The Nineties: Monica Lewinsky vs. Hillary Clinton

The Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton scandal is back in the news, my sweetings.  It happened almost two decades ago, and usually old scandals don't get a chance to become the Topic Of The Day that many years after the events, especially as Bill Clinton is not running for anything anymore.  Granted, the archives of Diane Blair, a friend of Hillary Clinton, who died in 2000 have become publicly available only since 2010 and the Free Beacon, a conservative news website, has published their findings from those archives.  

But the findings aren't that interesting.

So what's going on here?  Why is Rand Paul (a conservative-cum-libertarian with presidential ambitions) bringing this up again?  Let me just remind you of the facts here:  Bill Clinton isn't running for anything, the scandal is fairly old and the Republican politicians have their own share of various sex scandals.

Michael Tomasky has one answer:  Rand Paul tries to better his reputation among the fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party.  No, he's not just "anything-goes-if-you-are-the-king-of-the-jungle" libertarian; he is also opposed to marital infidelity and wants to stop the persecution of Christians.  At the same time, Paul can press that old Hatred Of The Clintons button which many conservatives still have installed.

If these moves are successful, his standing among the possible Republican presidential candidates will improve.

But from a wider angle all this looks nonsensical.  Take Ann Coulter's comments on that, for instance (should anybody still care about what she says):

The right-wing radio host said that Bill Clinton's actions reflect poorly not only on his wife, but also on liberals in general.
"I think it's more than limited to just undermining Hillary," she told CNN's Piers Morgan. "It's undermining this entire idea of the Republican War on Women."

Hmm.  How do Bill Clinton's actions reflect poorly on his wife?  It wasn't Hillary Clinton who pursued other men (as far as we know) or who got blow jobs in the Oval Office, right?

And the idea that today's liberals can be stained by a sex scandal from the 1990s is just weird.  It's like saying that the David Vitter sex scandal reflects poorly on people whose political values agree with those Coulter has, and that's a more recent scandal.  Or like saying that any actual sex scandals in this long list (some may be just unfounded rumors) could be used to pin collective guilt on all who have ever voted for a Republican.

Given all that, it's very hard to see how what Bill Clinton did in the 1990s could undermine the entire idea of the Republican War on Women.

Well, it's impossible that this would be the case.  In the theoretical worst case scenario the Democrats, as a party,  are as bad about sexual infidelity and about sexual harassment and so on, but at least they are not trying to strip women from all reproductive choice, they are not fighting tooth-and-nail against any attempt to make sure that women are not facing labor market discrimination, and while only 8.2% of the Republicans in the US Congress are women, 29% of the Democrats in the US Congress are women.

And then there are those Republican politicians who blurt out stuff about how one cannot get pregnant from rape and other similarly informative snippets.