Politics

Dem Chorus Tells Bill to Apologize and, Please, Shut Up

Former president's legacy within his own party is at stake after he doubled down on his refusal to tell Monica Lewinsky to her face that he's sorry

More Democrats are turning their backs on former President Bill Clinton in the era of the #MeToo movement — and with the 2018 midterm elections looming on the horizon.

A decidedly unapologetic Clinton delivered a string of disastrous interviews this week in which he insisted he doesn’t owe a personal apology to former White House intern Monica Lewinsky for engaging in an affair with her during his presidency.

But the #MeToo movement, which highlights women’s stories of abuse by powerful men in superior/subordinate relationships, has caused many Democrats to re-evaluate their support for Clinton.

“I think Bill Clinton’s useful life on the political trail for the foreseeable future is over,” Democratic political analyst and consultant Doug Schoen said Tuesday on Fox News’ “Outnumbered Overtime.” “There is a lot he can do overseas. He’s made a great contribution, but he really should apologize and get off the stage.”

Schoen, who worked for the Clinton administration, advised the former president to “stay away from the Democratic Party” and “stay away from domestic politics.”

Clinton disappointed many Democrats after he angrily confronted NBC News’ Craig Melvin during an interview that aired Monday on the “Today” show. When Melvin asked Clinton, “Do you feel like you owe [Lewinsky] an apology?” the former president defended himself and portrayed himself as a victim for engaging in the affair with his intern.

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Clinton also insisted that a personal apology was unnecessary because he already “apologized to everybody in the world.” He even claimed, “I like the #MeToo movement,” saying that “it’s way overdue,” but “it doesn’t mean I agree with everything.”

“[Clinton] had a perfect opportunity on the ‘Today’ show to say, ‘I owe her an apology, it’s long overdue, and I’m offering one now and I need to go back to her and make that clear,'” Schoen said. “I think people would have been at least somewhat sympathetic to him, rather than the outrage that he’s generated with his doubling down on a really, I think, untenable and unpalatable position.”

Even Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who aligned herself with the #MeToo movement in October 2017 when she accused a former chief of staff of former Rep. Leo Ryan’s (D-Calif.) of sexually harassing her in her 20s, said Tuesday on CNN’s “Out Front with Erin Burnett” that Clinton should have apologized personally to Lewinsky.

“I can’t speak to what went on then. But I can say that an effort could have been made, probably should have been made” to apologize, Speier said. “But [Clinton] should have respected whatever message he received from Monica Lewinsky and her family in terms of whether or not she wanted to take a call from him.”

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), a longtime key Clinton ally, told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Monday, “I wish [Clinton] had said today, that he had said many times, ‘I apologize,’ publicly apologized, felt horrible for the actions that he did and moved on.”

Noting that he is a “very close” friend of the Clintons, McAuliffe said it was a “terrible time for the country. The moral standards haven’t changed, but the standards about how we now talk about what happens in the workplace have, and that’s a good thing.”

Related: Clinton Doubles Down on No Lewinsky Apology

MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski slammed Clinton Monday, saying that he is “incapable of owning anything.”

“It has been for decades an unbelievable double standard that the Clintons have used and abused where nobody is allowed to go there on this issue, and in the age of #MeToo women are supposed to go there,” Brzezinski said. “I’ve never been more moved by an interview and I really appreciate that Craig Melvin asked those questions and brought that entire interview to a stop and stayed with it, finally, finally.”

A May CNN poll surveying 1,015 registered voters found that 80 percent of Democrats believe it is extremely or very important for the nation to address and combat sexual harassment. Because of Clinton’s troubled history with Lewinsky, along with the sexual harassment and assault allegations against him from several other women, his political future as a figurehead of the Democratic Party appears to be at stake.

The gathering storm over Clinton’s attitudes points to how differently powerful men sexually abusing women was viewed by Democrats and their media allies, as exemplified in the infamous words of then-“Time” magazine White House correspondent Nina Burleight in 1998:

“I would be happy to give [Clinton] a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.”

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage image: Bill Clinton, CC BY-SA 3.0, by Gage Skidmore; photo credit, article image: Bill Clinton, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore)

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