Bill Clinton: Norms have changed about ‘what you can do to somebody against their will’

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I’ve always been a Bill Clinton fan, honestly, but his promotional tour is a mess and I want him to just be quiet. Clinton is currently doing promo for the fiction book he co-authored with James Patterson, The President Is Missing. Every interview starts out with Patterson and Clinton sitting together, being interviewed together, then Clinton gets some mild-to-tough question about the Me Too movement or Monica Lewinsky or sexual harassment, and sh-t just goes off the rails. And Patterson is left sitting there, mildly horror-struck at the turn of events.

This happened again when Patterson and Clinton were being interviewed by Judy Woodruff on PBS. Woodruff asked a somewhat mild question about Al Franken, who resigned from his Senate seat last December after multiple women came forward and accused him of harassment and groping. This is what happened:

Drawing comparisons between the president’s sexual-harassment scandals and Al Franken’s, reporter Judy Woodruff said, “He was driven from office, from the U.S. Senate. So, norms have changed. Do you think that’s a good thing?” Clinton replied: “Well, in general, I think it’s a good thing, yes. I think it’s a good thing that we should all have higher standards. I think the norms have really changed in terms of, what you can do to somebody against their will, how much you can crowd their space, make them miserable at work…You don’t have to physically assault somebody to make them, you know, uncomfortable at work or at home or in their other — just walking around. That, I think, is good.”

He went on to clarify, however, that he had mixed feelings about Franken’s case, calling it “a difficult case, a hard case.” He said: “There may be things I don’t know. But I — maybe I’m just an old-fashioned person, but it seemed to me that there were 29 women on Saturday Night Live that put out a statement for him, and that the first and most fantastic story was called, I believe, into question.”

Clinton added that while it’s “too late” to get into it now, he believes it is “a grievous thing to take away from the people a decision they have made, especially when there is an election coming up again.”

[From The Cut]

I actually know what he’s *trying* to say with the “what you can do to somebody against their will” comment, although he said it in a terrible way. He’s trying to say that we, as a society, have established better norms about what constitutes sexual harassment and inappropriate workplace behavior. But he’s making it sound like it used to be totally fine to do ANYTHING to someone against their will. Good God.

As for what he says about Al Franken… I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers there. I was suspicious of the first woman’s story too, but as other women came out and told their stories of his inappropriate behavior towards them, I did begin to believe that Franken has some issues. That being said, just because Al Franken didn’t harass or assault one group of women, doesn’t mean he’s in the clear. What this reminds me of is that Bill Clinton is just… stuck in the ‘90s. He’s not listening to the conversations we’re having now.

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54 Responses to “Bill Clinton: Norms have changed about ‘what you can do to somebody against their will’”

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  1. Melania says:

    I’m sorry to say this but enough with Bill Clinton.Lately he doesn’t say a right thing

    • NameChange says:

      No, he isn’t. Ugh, Bill, norms haven’t changed. You couldn’t then and can’t now coerce or assault someone. end of. How is that hard to understand?

      • Sherry says:

        This is what angers me about men (and in some ways women) of a certain age trying to say “That’s just the way things were back then.” Like women at any point in history enjoyed being sexually harassed. No one ever wanted to go to work and have sexual comments made to them. No one was ever happy to have their butt smacked. No one wanted to be put in a compromising position by their boss or co-worker.

        It was NEVER okay.

      • Muffy says:

        That’s the thing—you totally could do those things, and nothing would happen.

        Did women enjoy it? Of course not. But there were no consequences for the men.

      • j says:

        He’s triggered by the questions and fumbles them because he can’t not think about Lewinski. It’s sad to have confirmation that he hasn’t done the work after all this time. He still hasn’t reckoned with the fact that he was a predator and not just an innocent byproduct of “the times” or “changing norms” (aka the 90’s). It wasn’t ok then and it’s not ok now.

  2. Lila says:

    As Bill Clinton gets older and the years pass it appears that Bill is losing his filter and what he really thinks is coming out of his mouth. He refuses to take responsibility for what happened with Monica Lewinsky.

    • Miss Melissa says:

      He always refused. Hard to reconcile liking Bill Clinton with the enormous white male privilege he abused, but he did and there it is.

      Not my husband, not my problem, not a standard that will be tolerated anymore.

      • Anika says:

        Miss Melissa: Agreed. For someone who–correctly–is so appalled at the privilege of rich white men–especially those known for repeatedly sexually harassing women and constantly getting away with it, like Bill Clinton–it’s shocking and incongruous that you can actually call yourself “a fan of Bill Clinton.” He is a perennial, serial cheater with a history of chauvinistic sexual mistreatment and compulsive predation of women (Paula Jones, while he was governor, ring a bell?) and nothing in his slick self extrapolation for his actions has changed. (Nor have, I believe, his actions themselves.) To me, there’s something utterly confounding and contradictory about calling oneself a feminist AND a “fan” of this man.

  3. Wren says:

    What boggles my mind is why he doesn’t have prepared answers to these types of questions. Isn’t public speaking, like, his thing? Why is he so awkward and halting and coming off like he’s disappointed that one can no longer grope female underlings with impunity? None of these questions are coming out of left field, he should be expecting them. I don’t actually expect his real attitude to change, but this bumbling and rambling approach to questions he knew were coming is just bizarre.

    • Mina says:

      He doesn’t have his wife’s talent to give the answer people want to hear. I think he really believed he was giving the right answer, because he’s never understood what the problem is.

    • Mina says:

      He doesn’t have his wife’s talent to give the answer people want to hear. I think he really believed he was giving the right answer, because he’s never understood what the problem is.

  4. Wendy says:

    Nope. Nothing has changed. Creepy, predatory, harassing behavior has always made people uncomfortable. What is changing are the responses to those behaviors. Those on the receiving end are starting to be heard and believed and the perpetrators are sometimes being called out.

    • Ally says:

      I actually think that’s what he is trying to say? Badly… As in, the standards of what is acceptable in the workplace have changed, and people are (or should be) reprimanded accordingly for things that would have been dismissed 10 years ago.
      However, I think he should just stop talking about any of this. He seems tired, annoyed and out of touch, and makes things worse every time he tries to address these issues.

      • Wendy says:

        I think he was trying to say what you just said. That workplace norms have changed. Workplace “acceptable behavior” has not changed. I’ve been in the workforce for several decades and the expected behavior has not changed. It has always been wrong to harass, touch, and be creepy to your coworkers.

    • thaisajs says:

      Exactly. Bill Clinton needs to go home and think about his life choices.

  5. Mina says:

    I get what he was trying to say too… but actions speak louder than words, and Bill has never treated women right, norms in place or not.

  6. censored says:

    The Clintons need to go away (both of them ) .They have done their time good and bad but as long they remain in the public eye they are seen as the defacto face of the Democratic party and at this time that is doing more bad than good

  7. NoShame says:

    Seriously, saying I’m sorry would have been so much easier and more respectable. Instead, he has all those other words…UGH, just STOP TALKING.

  8. Tw says:

    Al Franken is like leave me outta this. He’s trying to lay low. You are not helping, Bubba.

  9. Jane says:

    Oh Bill, Bill, Bill. When are you ever going to learn? Oh right. That will never happen.

  10. Aang says:

    Both Clintons do more harm than good at this point. Bill deserves his reputation. Hillary is the victim of misogyny that’s why the right hates her. But she is also a neoliberal of the worst sort. Paternalistic, in bed with big wall street/ big business, hawkish, the way she pandered to the law and order people on sentencing reform was awful and racist. That’s why many progressives don’t rush to love her. It would be better for the Democrats if they went away and quit giving Limbaugh and company conspiracy taking points.

    • Betsy says:



    • Bluthfan says:

      Exactly. Even after all this time, HIllary is still unpopular. She and Bill are just a drag on Dems. We need to move forward and can’t with those anchors hanging around. At least W had the common sense to stay away from public events when he was toxic.

      • Betsy says:

        No, he hasn’t stayed away from anywhere and he was all over everywhere with his painting.

  11. Hollygo says:

    I know he’s getting older and doesn’t likely want more PR refresher courses but wtf? What is his team doing?

    • Taxi says:

      Bill has always believed in his own entitlements. He has also had known consensual affairs.

  12. Jenny says:

    Oh yes, I feel so sorry for all the good ole’ boys who can’t rape and pillage without consequence they way they used to…

  13. Betsy says:

    Yeah, no. I sincerely believe that Al Franken was rat**cked. That picture was a joke, one that Tweeden was allegedly awake and pretending to be asleep for. I don’t say that as a joke. I say that as someone who sees who she associates with.

    I’m Minnesotan. We got our elected rep taken from us without an investigation and President Assaulter is still there. It’s horsepuckey.

    • Bluthfan says:

      There were 6 other women who came forward after that and said something. Two of them lifelong MN Dems. As a Minnesotan, I couldn’t be more thrilled that we got rid of the pervert representing us. We deserve better.

    • tw says:

      I have a close friend who recounts being pinned against a wall by Al in a bar. This was 20 years ago. I loved him, read his books, thought he was great at his job, but he is guilty.

    • bma says:

      He resigned. He wasn’t “taken” from you. He made the choice to resign because he knew his behavior could not be defended. It wasn’t one woman who accused him, it was multiple. His actions led to you losing your congressman, not anyone elses.

  14. Va Va Kaboom says:

    Can someone remind me why Bill Clinton, a man who’s been accused of sexual harassment and assault by multiple women, hasn’t been “canceled” yet? Have people decided they don’t believe Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Wiley, and Paula Jones?

  15. Red Snapper says:

    BTW Glenn Greenwald thinks the ‘Russia thing’ is a hoax and a witch hunt. Please don’t retweet him, he’s awful.

    • gate666 says:

      even noam chomsky doesnt believe in russian you also think he is an aweful person?

  16. Who ARE These People? says:

    If only Hillary had left him. She’d be president today. She seems to love him, and it’s easy to see the attraction, but man – Bill has always needed a minder. Running the country would have been a piece of cake after marriage to him.

    • Bluthfan says:

      Nah, after all this time Bill is still more liked and a better politician than Hillary. She needed him to get as far as she did.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        She only needed him because women weren’t accepted on the national stage. Because of the groundbreaking career she has had, and her mentorship of countless women in politics and government, we now have women taken more seriously for their presidential potential.

        She also was a popular-time Senator from New York and, by many measures, won the 2016 election by virtue of a large vote margin – despite Russian tampering, the hatred of women, the hatred of all things Clinton, and vote suppression, gerrymandering, and the siphoning off votes by 3rd-party candidates.

        He didn’t run her campaign; she did.

    • Mina says:

      You really think that? I think if Hillary had any credit at all with many Democrats is because she stayed married to Bill. He was the popular one, she was never liked much when she was FLOTUS and the fact that she couldn’t beat Donald Effing Trump in key states shows she’s still not liked.

  17. Chaine says:

    Yuck. If you didn’t tell me it was Bill Clinton, and just put those Al Franken quotes out there, I would have said it was Trump talking about Roy Moore.

  18. megan says:

    Blech. He just doesn’t get it. Remember the “bimbo eruption” phrase that came out of his campaign? He needs to go home and be quiet.

  19. Christina says:

    A friend and of mine is a probabtion officer in the south. He knows a lot of police officers who were officers in Arkansas at the time BC was governor. I am a democrat and was a Clinton supporter, and I voted for Hillary. During the 2016 election, my friiend was very anti-Clinton. His reason is that a bunch of his police officer friends in Arkansas told him that the Clintons used the police force to tarnish women Bill was having affairs with to shut them down. My friend isn’t a nut or I wouldn’t be posting this.

    He knew how to run the White House because of his male and white privilege. He could negotiate with folks who know the “man” code: discredit the women, no one will believe them anyway. He hasn’t changed how he feels. Of course “intimidation” was a fair tactic in his worldview, so he makes it sound like it’s going out of fashion instead of a dangerous violation of a person’s humanity. Sigh…

  20. Addison says:

    No. No. No. The norms were always the same. Simply when they were ignored most people kept their mouths shut. Now people are saying NO MORE. We will not keep our mouth shut.

  21. ASHBY says:

    Oh, goodness.

    I see that Bill Clinton still doesn’t get it, hasn’t learned a thing.

    White male with all the advantages in the world, but anything seems to be okay as long as he is a democrat, just like Matt Damon.

    It’s disgusting, but that Dump Truck Trump is trillion times worse, so what can one do at this point?

    It’s really surprising to me that Clinton is so unprepared for the “MeToo” questions.

    Does he live under a rock, does he not remember his Slick Willy past at all?

    We need to get rid of these old Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schummer, if we hope to win elections in the future.

    • Miss Melissa says:

      I think that is an excellent point. He has to know that in this climate, if he is going out there to promote anything, he will be questioned on his past and called to answer for it.

      Maybe he should live under a rock.

  22. Anastasia says:

    Nope, I’m not going to stretch to say “I mean, I know what he sort of means.”

    No. It was NEVER ok. I’m so done with him.

  23. Ally says:

    Apparently, in the book, President Super Bubba is (spoiler alert) betrayed by a woman staffer who’s mad that there haven’t yet been any woman presidents.

    So the villain is Hillary?

    Also, weird plot point for the finally slightly more enlightened-about-gender moment.

  24. Deeanna says:

    “His people” need to yank him from this book tour. Use an ill health excuse if needed, but get him away from questioning interviewers.

  25. Jayne Birkinb says:

    TW has it exactly right. If they had formally separated after a term in the Senate, we would have all understood. Bill’s wgo and need to have a massive foundation made him chase money from despots, corporate raiders and child molestors.

    That and his history of harassing unwilling women eviscerated Hillary’s moral high ground for the Trump debates,which killed her chances in the swing states.

    F*** you Bill, and the private plane you rode in on. Just STFU already.