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Sept 11

Bill Clinton, Jack Rabbit

(Irreverent Opinion)

Nothing sickens me more than the specter of famous-name feminists jumping to the defense of President Clinton whenever a new story emerges about his sexual habits. I voted for the lyin', cheatin, cutie pie twice, in line with the "lesser evil" theory of electoral politics, and I'm not sorry I did, but you won't catch me apologizing for him in public. On the other hand, I haven't been screaming for his resignation, either. Let's face it: the amiable rake with the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am compulsions has shadow-boxed feminists into a corner. It's time for my sisters who sold their souls to the Democratic Party to fall on their swords and admit they've been mightily bamboozled, rather than pooh-pooh each fresh accusation.

The cost of defending our prez has become entirely too high. It's turned into a repudiation of everything we've said for years about rape and sexual harassment. It's placed us in the disgusting, anti-feminist position of blaming the victim. It's ceded the moral high ground to cynical right-wingers who gleefully employ our rhetoric for their own nefarious ends. And it's prevented us from reminding the public that the charismatic liar with the crooked finger and lopsided grin has failed us on the important issues over and over.

Let's get real. So what if he had a long, secret affair with Gennifer Flowers? What's evil is that he lied about it to save his political skin. So what if he let California bunny Monica Lewinsky snap her thongs and go down on him in the Oval Office? Not for a minute did I consider this tawdry, catch-as-catch-can diddling a case of sexual harassment, but I was flabbergasted that he tried to get away with another Big Lie. I am one of the few feminists I know who believed Paula Jones from the git-go. I believed Kathleen Willey and I believe Juanita Brodderick. Each of these women strikes me as a credible witness. Taken as a whole, we see a jack rabbit who grabs any nearby woman for a moment of relaxation.

I do see fine distinctions between the Jones, Willey, and Brodderick stories. I've always suspected that he got his signals crossed with Jones; the scenario that makes the most sense is that he stupidly mistook her for a professional prostitute. And evidently he mistook the distraught Willey for a willing and eager Monica type. But Brodderick's story cannot be explained away. Yet you should hear some of my feminist sisters saying lame things like "She shouldn't have let him into her hotel room."

She shouldn't have? Well, in retrospect I guess she shouldn't have, but remember, the venue was his suggestion. Brodderick thought the meeting was arranged to discuss nursing home regulations. Men take meetings in their hotel rooms all the time. Why should Brodderick have suspected that the earnest young pol was going to jump her the minute the door was closed? Okay, we have to concede that women still can't claim the privileges that men take for granted, like take a meeting in a hotel room without worrying whether it looks like an open invitation to rape or seduction, but feminists should not be blaming Brodderick for Bill Clinton's egregious misreading of her intentions. Rapists always say, "Gee, I thought that's what she wanted."

It's endlessly fascinating to speculate about the Clintons' loveless, sexless marriage, and to ponder the terms of the unholy bargain that brought them to the top of the heap, but the real mystery is how the charmer managed to convince vast numbers of people he's the living embodiment of all the serious concerns articulated by women and blacks without doing damn much of anything at all. So he plays golf with Vernon Jordan and chose Betty Currie as his personal secretary-- we're supposed to consider this a sign of progress? In truth, he blithely used these loyal intimates to carry out his procurements, and then, when things started to blow, he used them again in a pathetic attempt to cover his tracks.

Yes, Clinton has appointed more women to big jobs than any other president in history and that's nothing to snivel at, but rather than view a handful of high-profile women as some sort of blessed gift from on high, I see the appointments as one small result of thirty years of feminist agitation. Yes, he's held the line on abortion, but any Democratic president would have done the same thing. Now let's look at a few examples of how Clinton let us down so swiftly we could only gasp: signing the oppressive welfare bill, dropping Lani Guinier like a hot potato, firing the remarkable Jocelyn Elders for daring to mention masturbation (how's that for hypocrisy?), endorsing the Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy for the military, letting Janet Reno get away with the inferno at Waco, vetoing the needle-exchange legislation, ordering air strikes on two small, troubled countries to show he's the Free World's great macho leader.

On balance, his record is atrocious.

March 1999