Maraniss: GOP Always ‘Overplay Their Hand,’ Aftermath of Bill Affairs ‘Served to Hillary’s Benefit’

One of the more shameless defenders of the Clinton and Obama families in author David Maraniss appeared on MSNBC late Wednesday night with The 11th Hour host Brian Williams to lament that he’s “suffering a bit from PTSD” from Donald Trump bringing up Bill Clinton’s sexual escapades but not worried because their opponents always “overplay their hand” against “Bill Clinton's defense attorney” Hillary Clinton.

Mirroring their out-of-control segment attacking Clinton critics during the Republican National Convention (RNC), Maraniss began by telling Williams that earlier in the day, “I had to turn the TV off” because “I was suffering a bit from PTSD from the late 1990s” but seemed comforted because “the Clintons benefit from the fact that whatever their flaws are, their opponent's flaws seem to be greater and become so obsessed with getting the Clintons that they overplay their hand.” 

Williams then lobbed this pathetic softball about “[h]ow much of this did Ken Starr exhaust” in terms of Clinton’s alleged misdeeds and minus the fact that Starr’s entire investigation was not to find out what Clinton’s sex life was like but to determine whether or not he had lied in a court of law.

Maraniss responded promptly with more of the same lunacy, ruling that if Ken “Javert” Starr couldn’t sink the Clintons over their sexual behavior then “nobody’s going to do it now”:

Ken Starr was the Javert going after Bill Clinton. What he found in terms of Clinton’s sexual life was consensual sex with one woman who was young and was disgusting on Clinton's part but it was consensual and she was of age. He had Juanita Broaddrick. He had Paula Jones. He used those as devices but he didn’t get anything on that and if Ken Starr didn’t do it, nobody’s going to do it now.

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As if this spin wasn’t already shameless, Maraniss used his next set of comments to spin Hillary’s role in husband Bill’s scandals as his “defense attorney” because “[t]hey came up together” having “this symbiotic political relationship and so when he was vulnerable, she would come to his defense.”

He continued this clear double standard by ruling that such criticism “backfires” because “many women might understand why a wife might” defend their husbands when caught and/or accused of engaging in extramarital affairs.

“[S]o every time there's been an attack on Bill's personal activities, it is served to Hillary's benefit, and so there — I don't think this can work but it's just like their last gasp,” he added.

Looking ahead to if Clinton wins the election, Maraniss complained that she might not be able to accomplish as president due to those Republicans: 

[T]here's going to be the hostility towards the Clintons there and it’s going to be very difficult for her to get things done in that first term. I think that one of the paradox with her is she is very good at working with people and when she was in the Senate, the Republican senators respected her. So, I think for all of the baggage around the Clintons, that there's a chance that she could sort of not reinvent herself but exert a certain part of herself that has sort of been hidden for a long time. 

The relevant portion of the transcript from MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams on October 12 can be found below.

MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams
October 12, 2016
11:48 p.m. Eastern

BRIAN WILLIAMS: There are 26 days left in this campaign and the evidence is mounting. These final days could end up being the nastiest in modern American political history. We can probably just declare that so. On Sunday before the debate in St. Louis we saw Donald Trump hold a press conference with women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct and today we got this report I alluded earlier in the broadcast, came from Bloomberg Businessweek: “On Tuesday, Bannon [CEO of the Trump campaign] a laid out the campaign's argument. “She's led a program of victim intimidation,” Bannon told Trump staffers, according to two advisors were present. “This has nothing to do with consensual sexual affairs and infidelities. This is Bill. We're going to turn him into Bill Cosby. He’s a violent sexual predator who physically abuses women who he assaults. And she takes the lead on the intimidation of the victims.” We're happy to say joining us tonight in the studio, David Maraniss, associate editor at The Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize winner who has authored two books on the Clintons. The Clinton Enigma and First in his Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton. His book, Once in a Great City, a terrific accounting of the city of Detroit is out now in paperback. Welcome to you. 

DAVID MARANISS: Thank you, Brian. 

WILLIAMS: You and I go back to the Clinton first term and when people say those things, when people talk about the Clinton women, this is a very, very broad question, how do you react? Asked and answered, already litigated or your right to ask those questions, make those charges?

MARANISS: I have to say first of all, that at one point tonight watching TV, I had to turn the TV off. I was suffering a bit from PTSD from the late 1990s. 

WILLIAMS: I understand.

MARANISS: I think that the Clintons benefit from the fact that whatever their flaws are, their opponent's flaws seem to be greater and become so obsessed with getting the Clintons that they overplay their hand and that’s playing out right now on this almost surreal, Felliniesque, hyper-unreality show where the Republican candidate is surrounded only by this small group of people who have been out to get the Clintons for 20 years. 

WILLIAMS: How much of this did Ken Starr exhaust? 

MARANISS: Well, that's another interesting aspect to this. Ken Starr was the Javert going after Bill Clinton. What he found in terms of Clinton’s sexual life was consensual sex with one woman who was young and was disgusting on Clinton's part but it was consensual and she was of age. He had Juanita Broaddrick. He had Paula Jones. He used those as devices but he didn’t get anything on that and if Ken Starr didn’t do it, nobody’s going to do it now. 

WILLIAMS: I could not get through an interview with A.J. Delgado, the woman the Trump campaign was putting out tonight without Clinton mentions on her part. It's going to get worse if we believe Mr. Bannon and more specifically, they're going to go after this Hillary Clinton kind of persecution, prosecution of the women. Can you speak on that broadly from your recollection and your reporting? 

MARANISS: Well, I can speak on it in two levels. One is that yes, Hillary Clinton was always Bill Clinton's defense attorney. They came up together. They rose together. They had this symbiotic political relationship and so when he was vulnerable, she would come to his defense. Now, in terms of their marriage, I think that this backfires when they attack Hillary for what Bill did. Even if she was defending him, many women might understand why a wife might do that and so every time there's been an attack on Bill's personal activities, it is served to Hillary's benefit, and so there — I don't think this can work but it's just like their last gasp. 

WILLIAMS: Let's talk about the negativity in the air, I mentioned earlier. David Gergen's theory that the country is just somewhat if not somewhat, a lot depressed. 

MARANISS: I agree completely with that. I was thinking today about the word disruption. You know, that’s sort of the cliche of the last few years. You talk about business disruption and economic disruption and it can be good or bad people say. Well, I think this country is completely disrupted politically right now and so there's a segment that supports Donald Trump that wakes up angry every day and thinking that the world is falling apart because he’s — they're not being listened to and then there's a broader majority of people who just seem to be anxious, this disruptive anxiety of constant barrage of unpredictability from one candidate.

WILLIAMS: The other term people are awfully fond of right now is unpack. Everyone’s unpacking everything all day. You’re — you’re a historian whether you want to or not.

MARANISS: Maybe we should all start packing. 

WILLIAMS: Well, you're a historian — the same as in Mr. McCullough, Mr. Beschloss, Ms. Goodwin, so unpack for me how this ever gets better? 

MARANISS:  I'm not sure it will right away. I — David Brooks had an interesting column yesterday or today — but he said felt that trump might just walk away and you know in one sense, America is a land that immediately forgets losers, you know, whether it's Kerry or Gore or Romney, they're sort of forgotten the next day. Will that happen if — Gore — I mean, if Trump loses who spends his whole life sort of living by the pathology of win at all costs, I don't know and I think that if Mrs. Clinton wins and becomes president — Madame Clinton there's going to be the hostility towards the Clintons there and it’s going to be very difficult for her to get things done in that first term. I think that one of the paradox with her is she is very good at working with people and when she was in the Senate, the Republican senators respected her. So, I think for all of the baggage around the Clintons, that there's a chance that she could sort of not reinvent herself but exert a certain part of herself that has sort of been hidden for a long time. 

WILLIAMS: What a great pleasure to have you. Thank you very much. 

MARANISS: Thank you, Brian.

WILLIAMS: David Maraniss, the author and historian as we've established tonight.

Tell the Truth 2016 NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Political Groups Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats MSNBC The 11th Hour with Brian Williams Video Government & Press Ken Starr Brian Williams David Maraniss Hillary Clinton Bill Clinton Monica Lewinsky Juanita Broaddrick Paula Jones
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