Once More Into the Clinton Circle of Hell

The allegations and the actual incidents of sexual assault, rape, child molestation, and harassment that are swirling around men in politics and entertainment are so enraging that I just wanna resign from my sex and start another one called, "Not Them." But, of course, a bunch of abusive motherfuckers would join us and pretend that it's not them when, really, and, c'mon, it's them. And, of course, it's forcing us to look around and think about which scuzzy sons of bitches have gotten away with it. That has led some on the left to go to the place that the right never left: the Clinton Circle of Hell, where no story ever dies, where any assertion about Bill and Hillary Clinton lives on eternally and is pushed to the surface again and again to torment those of us damned to live through this piggish age.

The Weinstein and Cosby and Spacey and Moore and all the other other cases of sexual abuse have led some liberals to ask why we're not having a new reckoning with the fact that President Bill Clinton was accused of many similar acts. The one that comes up most often now is undoubtedly the most horrific: Juanita Broaddrick's claim that, while he was running for governor in Arkansas in 1978, Clinton met her in a hotel room on the pretext of a campaign discussion and raped her. Several notable progressive writers and pundits, in the last few days, have said that Democrats need to come to terms with the idea that what Broaddrick and other women said would be taken as true today.

They wonder if Democrats don't owe it to themselves to be honest about this seemingly jarring hypocrisy (although Democrats have had no problem expelling and turning against liberals recently), even going back to call out Democrats for their response in the 1990s. In the Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan brings up Gloria Steinem's 1998 New York Times editorial defending Clinton and excoriating the women, declaring it "shameful." Of course, Flanagan doesn't mention the 1999 Times editorial calling on Clinton to publicly answer for Broaddrick's allegations.

I could be dismissive here and just say, "Fer fuck's sake, read the fucking Starr Report. Read the books from the time. Most of the women were demonstrably lying and even Broaddrick had multiple reasons to lie and the FBI said there wasn't anything there and Broaddrick herself swore under oath that it didn't happen. We did this already. We don't need to fucking do this again." But that's not fair because maybe some people do need to do this again or they're doing it for the first time, so let's take that seriously.

You wanna know why Broaddrick and the other allegations didn't lead to the collapse of the Clinton presidency and the whipping of the man into the hinterlands? Because Republicans had been fucking pricks about Clinton from the moment he became the Democratic nominee and by the time we got to Broaddrick, everyone was fucking sick of Republicans screaming about scandals and having hearings and appointing special prosecutors whenever one Clinton or the other farted longer than they liked. The motherfuckers cried, "Wolf!" constantly. And there was never a fuckin' wolf anywhere.

See, nothing happens in a vacuum. Lemme give you a quick jaunt through a couple of decades here. In the 1980s, Republicans still hadn't really gotten over Watergate (or the Vietnam War), but they thought that St. Ronnie Reagan was bringing them back to respectability, or at least a plausible bunch of lies and myths they could pretend was respectability. Then those fuckin' Democrats had to get their panties in a wad because Reagan had broken the law in order to get funding to the Contras in Nicaragua...

Let me pause here to say that I'm not gonna explain every damn thing. Fuckin' Google that shit. Anyways...

That just fucked up the Republicans' world because, c'mon, we can't have one fuckin' GOP president without a scandal? And then George Bush, Sr. gets in after St. Ronnie, and then he has a scandal of his own involving the bank that Contra drug money was laundered through and was protected because the Bush family was involved with the bank (BCCI scandal, kids). Holy fuckballs, and then Bush goes and loses to this hippie hick, Slick Willie, and the Republicans were gonna make that motherfucker suffer.

So, to get revenge on Democrats for fucking up their nice post-Nixon presidencies (and for forcing Clarence Thomas to face Anita Hill), from Day One, Republicans were on the hunt for anything to take those young asshole Clintons down. Thus we got the investigation of Hillary Clinton's law firm records, travel office firings, and a shitty land deal that became the Whitewater "scandal," which was only a "scandal" because it was that investigation that finally found something that Republicans could use against Clinton, lying under oath about getting oral from an intern in the Oval Office.

But that doesn't even get into the women that had been paraded before the public by a growing right-wing media wanting to tear down Clinton. Before the Broaddrick story really surfaced in 1999, we had already been through Gennifer Flowers talking about her affair with Clinton, which led to the Clintons going on television for an excruciating interview about Bill's infidelity. We'd been through Paula Jones accusing Clinton of showing her his dick, a story that fell apart when no one backed up Jones. The brand-new Fox "news" started in 1996 and was ready to push any story about Bill Clinton and sex. Then we got to Monica Lewinsky and the beginnings of the impeachment saga, as well as Kathleen Willey, who was also discredited when other women said under oath that she had had a consensual relationship with Clinton.

Then we finally got the Broaddrick story. But by that time, we'd heard women who were obviously lying but given huge roles by the media. We'd had reports about affairs and congressional investigations and Kenneth Starr and more sex and penis references than anyone wanted to deal with. It's not that no one believed Broaddrick. It's that Republicans were so driven to destroy Bill Clinton that we had every reason not to believe Broaddrick. So we didn't really even get to whether or not it was true (although, again, the Starr Report did deal with it).

So don't get so fuckin' smug about Gloria Steinem or Hillary Clinton. We were all living on a new 24-hour news cycle that was one sex scandal after another. Republicans were punishing the nation for electing Clinton, who, it should be noted, did much good and much bad as president, but one thing all of us should wonder is if he would have gotten Osama bin Laden if the GOP hadn't clogged the works with their pornographic interest in Clinton's cigar sodomy. (Seriously, Google all this stuff if you think I'm lying.)

What do we do now about Broaddrick and Clinton? Personally, I believe we dealt with it, and I'm someone who thought back in the day that Clinton should have resigned when the DNA test came back from the dress semen and that he should have let Al Gore be president.

I do think that Bill Clinton is tarred by all the allegations, from the most outrageous to the most tragic, true or not, and he was impeached. Yes, he gets to live the life of a wealthy man, but his legacy has an asterisk, and a good percentage of the country vilifies him and Hillary.

And we will never, ever leave this Circle of Hell because we will never, ever agree whether or not it's deserved.