Book tours can be brutal.
It took 20 years for Bill Clinton to be properly publicly shamed for the ugly bargain at the heart of the Clinton operation.
As a politician, the former president was gifted. James Carville liked to say: “People are confused. They don’t know which one they like more, the peace or the prosperity.”
Even Barack Obama, another talented pol, was forced to turn to his former nemesis to help sell his agenda for his second term, christening Bill the “Secretary of Explaining Stuff.” And if Hillary had listened to Bill’s urgent warnings about addressing the alienation of white men in flyover country in 2016, she’d be president.
Bill Clinton was so popular that, during his cascading scandals with women, some political analysts on the left suggested that Americans should look at a commander in chief in terms of private character and public character, disregarding personal peccadilloes and giving weight only to policy decisions.
But with the Clintons, the public and private were always intertwined in an inextricable and unappetizing way.
The desire among his supporters for a liberal agenda was held hostage to Bill Clinton’s libertine appetites. Let Bill be regressive and transgressive with women he was attracted to, and he would be progressive for all women.
You want enlightened policies for women and a record number of women in exalted posts? Then you must endure — and cover up for — “Saturday Night Bill,” as the dark side of the president was dubbed.
His wife and other prominent feminists backed Bill back then, and he and Hillary always had henchmen who were willing to smear Bill’s girlfriends and victims as trailer trash, cash-for-trash, nutty and slutty. (Think of how the Clinton war room would have Giuliani-ed a Stormy Daniels in those days.)
So it came as a surprise to him when he had no more skirts to hide behind when Craig Melvin asked on the “Today” show whether his actions in the ’90s would fly in the #MeToo era. Bill went to his usual go-to: his excellent record on appointing women. But that Faustian deal of doing good for all women while being bad with a few was no longer on the table.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Maureen Dowd