Democrats have rallied behind Hillary Clinton and that’s meant some serious mental acrobatics. Among them: Donald Trump joking about sexual assault in 2005 is heinous, but Bill Clinton’s alleged rape of Juanita Broaddrick is old news; Trump playing footsie with Vladimir Putin means he’ll sell out our country, but the Clinton Foundation’s entanglement with all manner of tyrants is copacetic; Trump is a heartless real-estate magnate who’s ripped off his customers, but the Clintonian pay-for-play plutocracy deserves another eight years.
So Clintonian wrongdoing gets excused once again. The case has been made repeatedly—including by me—that Republicans who vote for Trump are selling their souls in order to obtain political power. This is said far less often about Democrats and Hillary, but maybe it should be. Let’s turn to an artifact from the immediate post-Clinton era, a column by New York Times writer Bob Herbert, published in February 2001, shortly after the Clintons pardoned international fugitive Marc Rich and plundered the White House on their way out. Herbert, a staunch liberal Democrat, writes:
Mr. Clinton always had an easy, breezy relationship with wrongdoing. But the Democratic Party overlooked the ethical red flags and made a pact with Mr. Clinton that was the equivalent of a pact with the devil. And he delivered. With Mr. Clinton at the controls, the party won the White House twice. But in the process it lost its bearings and maybe even its soul.
Now, with the stench of yet another scandal polluting the political atmosphere, some of Mr. Clinton’s closest associates and supporters are acknowledging what his enemies have argued for years — the man is so thoroughly corrupt it’s frightening.
Remember, this is coming from a man of the left. And Herbert isn’t limiting his criticism to just Bill:
You can’t lead a nation if you are ashamed of the leadership of your party. The Clintons are a terminally unethical and vulgar couple, and they’ve betrayed everyone who has ever believed in them.
As neither Clinton has the grace to retire from the scene, the Democrats have no choice but to turn their backs on them. It won’t be easy, but the Democrats need to try. If they succeed they’ll deserve the compliment Bill Clinton offered Gennifer Flowers after she lied under oath: ”Good for you.”
Today, 15 long years after Herbert wrote those words, and thanks solely to the ineptitude of the GOP, the Clintons have almost finagled their way back to the White House. So join hands and take the plunge, Democrats. It may yet again be realized, four years from now or even eight, that what you’ve lost with Hillary is far greater than what you’ve gained.