Bill Clinton should be thankful his tomcat heyday occurred a quarter-century ago. He should stay blissfully quiet about all that now, or, if necessary, say nothing beyond words of abject contrition.
His political brilliance always was but an element of his being, far from his complete self. He could connect with people uncommonly and split the hairs of issues with deftness and command as no one else. But he also could explode in destructive anger and lame defensiveness when criticized. And that's what happened the other day.
The worst thing I can say about him is that Donald Trump reminds me of him.
You have big undisciplined baby boom caricatures whose presidential job outcomes--as yet in Trump's case--far exceed their personal character credentials.
You have two sexually misbehaving, female-disrespecting men who escaped consequence because politicians are guarded by their rationalizing bases and held to a lower standard in America.
Loitering in the public arena to tout a book, Clinton got asked on NBC--predictably, appropriately--about his rumored and known sexual behavior in the '90s in the context of the current me-too environment.
A person of full political brilliance would have known such a line of questioning was coming and to say only that of course he ought to apologize to Monica Lewinsky--that he could say only that he had behaved shamefully and was sorrier than he could say and had endeavored since to be better.
He needn't say, I guess, the full truth that he should have resigned for disgracing himself and the White House--that engaging in sexual relations in the office with a near-child and officially lying about it would have gotten any private-sector executive fired and certainly should have inflicted that result on the supposed leader of the free world.
Today women accusers are believed automatically, as, even then, I believed his.
I never had any serious doubt that he asked the State Police security aide to send Paula Corbin to his hotel suite and that he then made the move he assumed the state employee had invited, first by smiling at him and then by doing as the policeman said when the policeman said her governor wished to see her.
I never had any serious doubt that Kathleen Willey went into the Oval Office to say she needed a better job and more money and found herself backed against an anteroom wall by a president with an over-heating radiator.
I am forever conflicted by Juanita Broaddrick's allegation of lip-biting rape in the '70s in a Camelot Hotel room. But I'm not conflicted about this part: She would be believed if making the charge now, and a powerful man so accused while facing already multiple public allegations of predatory sexual behavior ... well, these days they call him Harvey, and they arrested him the other day.
Clinton's ultimate defense on NBC was that his matter had been fully litigated, and two-thirds of the American people supported him through the impeachment affair.
That's not litigation. It's politicization. It's a party-line vote in the U.S. Senate. It's an opinion poll based on resentment of the methods of Ken Starr and the Republicans and hypocritical liberal premise that Clinton could be excused personally because his policies were correct.
To the extent Clinton's behavior was litigated, he lost his Arkansas law license and paid fines for lying in sworn testimony. He is the first and only president to be officially reproved in such a way.
So, in that context, Clinton might have avoided going on live news-talk television altogether; but, if insistent on being there to tout a book, have chosen simply, when pointedly asked, to say "Yes, I cannot apologize to her enough, and I am forever sorry and ashamed."
To say, essentially: I said publicly once that I was sorry and I don't know how many times I'm supposed to say it, and I would remind you that my polls were good through all that and people are just trying to lump me with Trump and it's not fair and it's not right and I'm just trying to live a good life ... that's just not the way to go when you had your way with an intern and people these days are getting fired and disgraced and even handcuffed for behaving not dissimilarly.
He should come to his Clinton Center apartment and read. Or he might head to Texas and see if his pal George W. can teach him how to paint.
Either way, he needs a low profile and to count his lucky stars.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at email@example.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.
Editorial on 06/07/2018
Print Headline: One lucky dog