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.”
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.
Bill Clinton strongly suggests Al Franken was treated unjustly – says some other awkward and weird things about "what you can do to someone against their will" – concludes: "maybe I'm just an old-fashioned person" pic.twitter.com/QMlrYfO5sz
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 11, 2018
Photos courtesy of Getty.