Paul Krugman went there in his hackish Monday New York Times column, “Predators in Arms,” arguing that Republican politicians tend to be sexual abusers. The text box: “Is there a partisan pattern here?”
Krugman apparently has never heard of Bill Clinton accuser Juanita Broaddrick, or the infamous exploits of “Chappaquiddick” Sen. Ted Kennedy, or the statutory rape conviction of Democratic Rep. Mel Reynolds, or Rep. Garry Studds, who had a sexual relationship with an underage male page. And reporter Maggie Haberman had this weird description of Juanita Broaddrick, who accuses Bill Clinton of rape: "At other times, Mr. Trump retreated to Twitter, where he retweeted posts from an account that says it belongs to a woman who had long ago accused Bill Clinton of rape.”
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about bad behavior in general, which occurs among politicians (and people) of all political leanings. Yes, Bill Clinton had affairs; but there’s a world of difference between consensual sex, however inappropriate, and abuse of power to force those less powerful to accept your urges. That’s infinitely worse -- and it happens more than we’d like to think.
Take, for example, what we now know about what was happening politically in 2006, a year that Nate Cohn, The Times’s polling expert, suggests offers some lessons for this year. As Mr. Cohn points out, as late as September of that year it looked as if Republicans might retain control of Congress despite public revulsion at the Bush administration. But then came the Foley scandal: A member of Congress, Representative Mark Foley, had been sending sexually explicit messages to pages, and his party had failed to take any action despite warnings. As Mr. Cohn points out, the scandal seems to have broken the dam, and led to a Democratic wave.
But think about how much bigger that wave might have been if voters had known what we know now: that Dennis Hastert, who had been speaker of the House since 1999, himself had a long history of molesting teenage boys.
Krugman used “all” three anecdotes of despicable behavior, stretched out over decades, to claim some grand pattern among the GOP.
Why do all these stories involve Republicans? One answer may be structural. The G.O.P. is, or was until this election, a monolithic, hierarchical institution, in which powerful men could cover up their sins much better than they could in the far looser Democratic coalition.
“All” three of them?
There is also, I’d suggest, an underlying cynicism that pervades the Republican elite. We’re talking about a party that has long exploited white backlash to mobilize working-class voters, while enacting policies that actually hurt those voters but benefit the wealthy. Anyone participating in that scam -- which is what it is -- has to have the sense that politics is a sphere in which you can get away with a lot if you have the right connections. So in a way it’s not surprising if a disproportionate number of major players feel empowered to abuse their position.
.... And his vices are, dare we say, very much in line with his party’s recent tradition.
Krugman took these three stories (involving Trump, Foley, Hastert), which together cover allegations over nearly 50 years old (then-teacher Hastert’s victimizing of students evidently began in the late 1960s) and dishonestly tried to fit them into a pattern of Republican rape culture -- while avoiding similar Democratic stories including allegations against beloved Democratic party patriarchs Clinton and Kennedy -- entirely.
In related coverage, a Monday post-debate editorial, “Mr. Trump Goes Low,” tastelessly refused to name the three victims of Bill Clinton that spoke at a press conference (Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Juanita Broaddrick). Another woman at the conference, Kathy Shelton, was raped by Thomas Alfred Taylor when she 12. Attorney Hillary Clinton represented Taylor at trial and led him to a plea bargain.
The Times wrote:
Just before the debate, desperate to shift attention from his pattern of harassment, Mr. Trump sat hunched over a blank notepad in a hotel meeting room, encouraging four women to face the cameras and tell their stories of sexual victimization. “You went through a lot,” Mr. Trump coaxed one of the women flanking him, as he bent their allegations against Bill and Hillary Clinton to serve himself. The women’s claims deserved to be investigated and aired, and they have been, repeatedly.
If the Times editorialists truly thought those charges deserved airing, then why couldn't they name the women?
Clinton favorite Maggie Haberman couldn't bear to identify assault-accuser Juanita Broaddrick in a previous story. Haberman was incredibly dismissive, not even deigning to say her name in a story posted before the surprise news conference: “At other times, Mr. Trump retreated to Twitter, where he retweeted posts from an account that says it belongs to a woman who had long ago accused Bill Clinton of rape.”