We’re talking these days about sexual predation, abuse, assault, harassment. Men do behave badly at times. A number of men in powerful positions have been accused of that bad behavior.
I feel the need to set the record straight on one powerful man who once was in the news because of his misdeeds.
Republicans keep harping on former President Bill Clinton’s misbehavior while he was in the White House. They use that historical context to “defend” the actions of one currently prominent GOP politician, U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, who’s been accused of sexual abuse involving underage girls.
These Republicans, some of whom are friends of mine — and even a family member — wonder why President Clinton got a pass when he was messing around with Monica Lewinsky, a young White House intern in the late 1990s.
I must remind them: President Clinton got impeached. The House of Representatives — led by its GOP majority — impeached the president because he lied under oath to a federal grand jury that was snooping around, looking for something to stick to the president. The special counsel, Kenneth Starr, uncovered the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship, summoned the president to testify to the grand jury, asked him whether he had an sexual relationship with Lewinsky.
Clinton said “no.” That was untrue. Thus, the House had its grounds for impeachment: perjury. The president was humiliated. His wife became, shall we say, quite angry with him.
Did the president get off scot-free? Hardly. He paid a huge political price in the moment.
The U.S. Senate put him on trial. Senators acquitted him. Thus, the president was allowed to serve out the remainder of his second term in office.
Yes, there were other allegations. Clinton did settle with one of the accusers. He was stripped of his law license in Arkansas.
There’s no doubt that the former president has reclaimed his political standing. Time does have a way of putting some matters into different contexts.
However, the notion that Bill Clinton did not pay a price for his misbehavior is a canard those who still despise him are using to divert attention from the issue of the moment, which involves the conduct of the current crop of high-powered men.