In an NBC “Today” interview this week, former President Bill Clinton had his arrogant and misogynistic behavior on full display when asked about the Monica Lewinsky scandal during his presidency. He demonstrated that nothing has changed since he left office.
Two decades later, we’re living in the era of #MeToo, and the man we almost sent back to the Oval Office – this time as a presidential spouse – thinks it’s about #HimToo.
In his interview with Craig Melvin, Clinton said: "Nobody believes that I got out of that for free. I left the White House $16 million in debt.” #victimhood
Cue the violin.
Monica Lewinsky was a 24-year-old intern. Old enough to know better than to get involved in an obviously wrong relationship with the president of the United States, absolutely.
However, there is no comparison. Clinton was 51-year-old, a married man and a father of a young daughter, and he was the president. The burden of keeping it zipped fell on him.
If you’re tempted to feel bad about his $16 million debt – don’t. Clinton is in no danger of turning to a food bank or winding up in a homeless shelter for lack of funds.
Since leaving office in 2001, Bill and Hillary Clinton have managed to pull in more than $240 million. So $16 million in legal bills did not throw the Clintons into poverty.
If anyone didn’t get out of the scandalous relationship between the president and the White House intern without paying a price it was Monica Lewinsky. The shame and embarrassment of her bad choices have been life-altering and have followed her to this day.
Lewinsky has struggled to find work, even after earning a master’s degree, and at one point she even moved out of the country to gain some degree of anonymity. One organization even told her it would need a letter of indemnification from the Clintons before it could hire her.
During his NBC interview, President Clinton said he apologized to everybody and it was public, but when he was asked pointedly if he felt he owed a personal apology to Lewinsky he said, “No, I do not.”
Clinton attempted a mea culpa Monday night, likely to beat back the bad press he received from the NBC interview and put the focus on his new book that he’s promoting. However, he didn’t help his cause and just managed to come out sounding defensive again.
The Clintons are famous for placing blame anywhere but where it belongs – on themselves. While he admitted to getting “hot under the collar” during his NBC interview, Bill Clinton said it was because of the way the questions were asked. So now it’s NBC’s fault, apparently.
The former president went on to say: “The suggestion was that I never apologized for what caused all the trouble for me 20 years ago.” Did you catch that clever wording? “For what caused all the trouble for me.”
What caused all the trouble? It was you, Bill. Just look in the mirror and you’ll find the person responsible. You are what “caused all the trouble” for you.
More than 18 months after Donald Trump defeated her in the presidential election, Hillary Clinton still won’t admit she’s the reason she lost in 2016. Two decades later, Bill still won’t admit he is what has “caused all the trouble” for him.
He took another crack at a mea culpa Tuesday night when he went on the “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert on CBS. Clinton admitted the NBC interview wasn’t his “finest hour,” when Colbert pressed him about being perceived as “tone deaf.”
Colbert said: "Examples of men who were not held accountable for their behavior, especially men in power with younger women or people who worked for them, is worthy of being readjudicated or adjudicated for the first time, no matter how long ago it happened.”
Clinton said: “People need to know I apologized. I meant it then. I mean it now. ... And I still support Me Too. And I think we all need to keep trying to be doing better. And I would never dispute that.”
Then came the qualifier. The former president said it was very painful and he had to "live with the consequences every day since.”
Again, go talk to Monica about consequences. Just last month Town & Country magazine disinvited her to the magazine’s Philanthropy Summit after Bill Clinton decided to attend. Bill Clinton has 240 million reasons not to worry about consequences.
In the era of #MeToo, even some Democrats have distanced themselves from President Clinton on the campaign trail, including Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who was elected last year. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., also came out and said Clinton should have resigned from the presidency following the Lewinsky affair.
Bill Clinton reportedly is trying to rehab his image, with some in the media attempting to revive his old nickname, the “comeback kid.” As a likely part of his new image makeover, the Kennedys invited him to speak at the 50th anniversary commemoration of Robert F. Kennedy’s death at Arlington National Cemetery.
This attempt to raise the former president’s profile is not sitting well with women from his past who have accused him of sexual misconduct and feel he’s getting a pass.
Juanita Broaddrick, who has famously leveled accusations of rape at Clinton said: “I would like to know why? Why can you elevate Bill Clinton again to this level when he has done so many atrocious acts? …What on Earth could be the answer? Other than they believe Bill Clinton and they do not believe all the victims.”
Leslie Millwee, who accused Clinton of assault while she was an Arkansas TV reporter said: “People still laud him. When is that going to change? When is this man going to be held accountable for his behavior over the years?”
Broaddrick also took to Twitter to express her outrage at NBC and Craig Melvin for not bringing up her rape allegation against Clinton in the interview, tweeting: “This is so disgusting. Is there ANY reporter willing to ask Bill Clinton about RAPING me?”
It’s been 20 years since the Monica Lewinsky scandal shocked our nation and we found ourselves in the middle of ridiculous debates over the definition of the word “is,” while we famously saw Bill Clinton’s finger wagging at us on TV, saying he’s going back to doing the business of the American people.
What worked in the 90s to defend such behavior isn’t going to work in the age of #MeToo. You can’t play defense. You can’t dodge and distract. Excuses are exhausted, overused and thoroughly refuted.
In the age of #MeToo, your only recourse is to own it. Women are speaking out, and men are being held accountable. If Bill Clinton wants to fully rehab his image he needs to stop defending the indefensible and start admitting that he was part of the problem.
#YouToo Bill – you’re part of the problem, you’re not the victim.