Commentary: Silencing Bill and Hillary Clinton
During testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 14, 2017, Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions could not disclose whether he was recused from an investigation involving Hillary Clinton.
With Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein’s downfall and the rise of the #MeToo movement, the silencing of the Clintons is now underway. That doesn’t mean they will quit making noise — and of course, wherever there is a room full of vapid, hypocritical and cliché Hollywood know-nothings, aging feminists and assorted Clinton alumni, the Clintons will always get some applause — but the audience that respects them and welcomes their participation is marginal at best. Among many in the media and in the broader American political audience, the Clintons are finished. I never thought they would be seen as mostly radioactive by the Democratic Party, but here we are. Democrats in 2018 and 2020 will have to determine how to manage the “Clinton problem” rather than try to dispense Clinton magic and goodwill.
As if the current news of harassment in the workplace wasn’t enough to remind everyone of Hillary Clinton’s past as an enabler of a serial abuser, it was perhaps the coup de grace when the story broke that in 2008, she shielded one of her campaign advisers from accusations of sexual harassment and proceeded to ship the female accuser off to a new job. The abuser stayed in her orbit, went on to abuse again and was finally fired when she couldn’t protect him. This is just too much for today’s Democratic Party. For all of Clinton’s talk about female empowerment, she actively chose to protect predators and to quiet victims. And now, there is no place she can go where she isn’t a vivid illustration of what is no longer acceptable. She is from a different era and has too much baggage for the new Democratic bandwagon.
Making matters worse for the Clinton clan, Bill Clinton embodies what is considered poisonous by today’s standards and what would never again be accepted by Democrats. If he did today what he did in the ’90s, he could never have stayed in office and would have been lucky to avoid a perp walk. So, it was a little sad, but fitting, when a video ricocheted around Twitter of Clinton cheerfully engaging a supporter from the backseat of his Secret Service SUV only to move on when the supporter asked, “How’s Monica?” You can watch it here. Clinton was all thumbs up until the memory of his predatorial past was again brought to the forefront. It is unfair for Monica Lewinsky, but the point is that Clinton’s presence is a constant reminder of what is unacceptable and what cannot be tolerated. His legacy is being refreshed with today’s standards. It is unlikely he will live long enough to rehab his image and build a respected spot in American politics.
For all that Bill and Hillary Clinton have done to disenfranchise themselves from the mainstream Democratic psyche, perhaps the person who will suffer most is Chelsea Clinton. I don’t believe a child should be held responsible for the sins of her parents, but she has done little to distance herself from her parents’ ambitions. Despite wielding significant influence online with 2.15 million followers on Twitter, she has entirely refrained from participating in the #MeToo movement. In fact, she’s never even used the “MeToo” hashtag. Given her parents’ track-record of sexual harassment and coverups, she just can’t go there. She is prohibited from speaking on one of the Democratic Party’s biggest issues. Fair or not, her parents’ behavior has sidelined her and her ability to carry on the Clinton legacy.
The silencing of the Clintons is well underway.
Ed Rogers is a a political consultant and a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and several national campaigns.