Sunday, November 19, 2017


There are no Clintons holding public office now, and it's unlikely there will be any in the future unless Chelsea or one of her kids decides to run. So there's not much going on in America that Maureen Dowd can blame on Bill or Hillary. In desperation, she declares that while predatory behavior directed against women is a big news story right now, it wouldn't have been if Hillary had been elected president. Therefore, we can blame Hillary and Bill counterfactually for the continued suppression of this story that didn't actually happen.

Dowd writes:
Would the war against preying on women be blazing so fiercely had Hillary Clinton been elected?

When I interviewed women in Hollywood about the ugly Harvey Weinstein revelations in The Times and The New Yorker, they told me that feelings of frustration and disgust at having an accused predator in the White House instead of the first woman president had helped give the story velocity.
Dowd is saying that Donald Trump's election gave impetus to the Weinstein story (though we don't know whether the anonymous women she quotes know anything about the victims who spoke out or their motives). But in effect, Dowd frames this in her lead sentence as "Fortunately, Hillary lost." Dowd never misses an opportunity to say that the Clintons are bad for America.

And if you think I'm hairsplitting, note that Dowd goes on to write this:
It is also interesting to speculate: If Hillary were in the Oval, would some women have failed to summon the courage to tell their Weinstein horror stories because the producer was also a power behind the Clinton throne? As Janice Min, the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, told me, when Barack Obama stepped off a stage and into Weinstein’s arms for a big hug after giving a $400,000 speech as an ex-president in the spring, it sent a signal that the ogre was in a protected magic circle.
Dowd contradicts herself in two sentences. She says that Obama's embrace of Weinstein earlier this year demonstrated that Weinstein is "in a protected magic circle" -- and yet victims went public against Weinstein this year, so the message sent by that embrace wasn't heeded. Yes, Obama was no longer president, and neither was Hillary Clinton. But the entertainment industry is centered in the Democratic states of California and New York. The reporters who brought Weinstein down wrote for New York publications. The stories ran anyway. So why should we believe that fear of Democratic power brokers would have silenced the women who spoke out, or the journalists who wrote about them?

Dowd writes:
And, finally, would Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and other liberals still be saying in the past few days that Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency over his own sexual misdeeds if he now occupied the first lady’s quarters and reigned over a potent Clinton political machine?
After suggesting that the reckoning wouldn't have happened if the election had gone a different way, Dowd shifts gears and imagines that we would have had a big wave of harassment and assault stories even with Hillary in the White House. That's certainly what I believe. After Bill Cosby's many rapes were brought to light, and after the press revisited the story of Woody Allen's alleged sexual assault on a child, journalists were going to pursue Weinstein, regardless of how the election turned out.

I'll give Dowd this much: I agree that Democrats would be reluctant to attack Bill Clinton for this if he were the First Gentleman. But Republicans wouldn't.

Hillary Clinton would have taken office under siege. Congressional investigations aimed at the discovery of high crimes and misdemeanors would already be under way. Then this would have been thrown into the mix. For openers, there'd be demands to take away Bill's offices in the White House and to withhold funds for any of his official activities. There'd be new congressional hearings and investigations. Decades-old sexual assault allegations would probably supersede Benghazi and Uranium One as priority issues in the halls of Congress and on Fox News. I voted for Hillary, but I'm glad we're not relitigating all this under those circumstances.

In any case, I don't believe Hillary's election would have prevented the discussion of powerful men's sex crimes. I don't believe the Clintons wield that kind of power. But I'm not Maureen Dowd.

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