WSJ and WashPost's Marcus Agree: Bill Clinton's Sexual History 'Is Fair Game'

Just one week after CNN's Don Lemon shut down a guest who dared to raise the issue, there is now an agreement across the ideological spectrum that if Hillary Clinton is going to use her husband Bill as a campaign surrogate and go after her opponents' real or imagined sexism, then, as the headline at liberal Ruth Marcus's Monday evening Washington Post column says, "Bill Clinton's sordid sexual history is fair game."

Meanwhile, a Wall Street Journal editorial, while citing Marcus's column, agrees: "if Mrs. Clinton wants everyone to forget about Bill’s harassment of women, she ought to stop playing the sexism card, or drop Bill as surrogate, or both."

Marcus clearly struggles to remain intellectually honest before ultimately admitting what should be obvious (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Donald Trump ... has a point about (Hillary) Clinton playing the “woman’s card,” and about the male behavior that’s more concerning: her husband’s.

... Clinton’s attempt at outsourced outrage (over Donald Trump's "schlonged" and other comments — Ed.) has the air of a basketball player flopping on the floor for the benefit of the ref. Nothing would make the Clinton campaign happier than some good old-fashioned male chauvinist piggery directed her way — all the better to rile up female voters who seem surprisingly nonchalant about the prospect of electing the first female president.

We’ve seen this playbook before. ...

Marcus went on to recount Mrs. Clinton's history of playing the gender card during her first Senate campaign against Republican Rick Lazio in 2000, her unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2008, and currently against Bernie Sanders, when her surrogates bizarrely accused the Vermont senator of a sexist attack when he contended that "all the shouting in the world" won't solve gun violence.

Continuing with portions of Marcus's column:

Into this gender minefield lumbers Trump, characteristically unbound and deploying a weapon that none of Clinton’s Democratic opponents, past or present, has dared to mention. He played the Bill Card.

... “If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband, with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women’s card on me, she’s wrong!”

Well, Bill Clinton has a penchant for something. He had a successful presidency — with an ugly blot. “Sexism” isn’t the precise word for his predatory behavior toward women or his inexcusable relationship with a 22-year-old intern. Yet in the larger scheme of things, Bill Clinton’s conduct toward women is far worse than any of the offensive things that Trump has said.

Trump has smeared women because of their looks. Clinton has preyed on them, and in a workplace setting where he was by far the superior. That is uncomfortable for Clinton supporters but it is unavoidably true.

.... Ordinarily, I would argue that the sins of the husband should not be visited on the wife. ...

... But Hillary Clinton has made two moves that lead me, gulp, to agree with Trump on the “fair game” front. She is (smartly) using her husband as a campaign surrogate, and simultaneously (correctly) calling Trump sexist.

These moves open a dangerous door. ...

Now that it's opened, the Wall Street Journal's editorialists contend that there's no going back, because her willingness to open it previews the kind of presidential administration a Hillary Clinton victory would spawn:

... Mr. Trump is rude and crude, but in this case he is raising an issue that rightly bears on the 2016 election campaign and the prospect of a third Clinton term. Mrs. Clinton wants to use her gender both as a political sword and shield to win the White House. The purpose is to make male politicians less willing to take her on, while reinforcing her main and not-so-subtle campaign theme that it’s time to elect the first woman President.

So she and her allies will try to spin any criticism as sexist. ...

... no one in American politics better personifies a war on women than Mrs. Clinton’s husband. For readers too young to recall the 1990s, we aren’t merely referring to Trumpian gibes about female looks or “Mad Men” condescension. Mr. Clinton was a genuine sexual harasser in the classic definition of exploiting his power as a workplace superior, and the Clinton entourage worked hard to smear and discredit his many women accusers. 

Start with “bimbo eruptions,” the phrase that Mr. Clinton’s Arkansas fixer Betsey Wright used to describe the women who had affairs with Bill. Gennifer Flowers almost derailed his primary campaign in 1992, until Hillary stood by her man on CBS’s “60 Minutes” and the media portrayed Ms. Flowers as a golddigger. 

Many more would come forward, not least Paula Jones, an Arkansas state employee who testified that a state policeman working for then Governor Clinton invited her to Bill’s hotel room where he exposed himself and sexually propositioned her. Ms. Jones filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit and Mr. Clinton lied under oath, resulting in his impeachment.

... When news of that affair came to light, the Clintons also waged war on her reputation.

... when her (Mrs. Clinton's) own access to political power was at stake, she dismissed the women and defended her husband.

We rehearse all this not merely to reinforce Mr. Trump’s claims of a Clinton double standard. The point relates to the standards that would prevail in another Clinton Presidency.

If Mrs. Clinton is going to play the gender and sexism cards, she has to acknlowledge and answer for her self-evident role as her sexual predator husband's defender and enabler. A liberal columnist and a usually conservative editorial board agree. Mrs. Clinton's knee-jerk media defenders like Don Lemon have thus been ideologically surrounded by irrefutable logic. Henceforth, the pushback against any attempt by Team Clinton and her press apparatchiks to go to their worn-out playbook in smearing others should be fierce, and should cite the now-clear agreement among people across the ideological divide.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.