Bill Clinton and Jones/Willey/Broaddrick, revisited

Back during the 1990s, Richard Mellon Scaife’s hirelings dug up all the dirt they could find on Bill Clinton, and threw it at him in the hopes that some of it would stick. At the end of the 1990s, that was pretty much where we left things, with respect to the assorted accusations of Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Juanita Broaddrick.

But in the past few weeks, I’ve encountered numerous Doper comments to the effect that Bill Clinton almost surely committed sexual assault or sexual harassment.

However, when making these claims, nobody’s linked to any definitive revisiting of the evidence against Clinton.

So, when and how did we get from ‘lots of smoke but probably no fire’ ca. 1999, to ‘yep, there almost surely was fire’ ca. 2017?

I’m certainly open to the notion that Bill Clinton committed sexual harassment or sexual assault, but just saying he did without any supporting evidence doesn’t cut the mustard, certainly not here of all places.

So, those of you making these claims, this is your thread. Make your case, please.


For God’s sake, why???

The only reason it’s coming up again is to distract us from the current ones.
And there are people foolish enough to fall for that. Even here on the SDMB.

Seems to me that all you can say is that by today’s standards, Clinton could not have been elected, but by the standards of 1992, he could. Beyond that… I don’t know. I’m sure it is an enjoyable topic, for the kinds of people who enjoy discussing this sort of thing.

The Lewinski affair (sounds like the title of an old “Man From Uncle” episode) though totally consensual was sufficiently inappropriate to give allegations traction. And, lo and behold, here come the allegations. Why, when Clinton was on the ropes after the Flowers exposure, didn’t Broderick and Jones come forth?

Jones came forward BEFORE the Lewisky matter.

I don’t think it’s as simple as that. Republicans always enjoy “giving it” to the Clintons and liberals; that is part of the reason it’s coming up again. However, there is also something of a civil war within the Democratic Party. One wing of the Democratic Party is still associated with the Clinton’s. Any further downfall of the Clinton’s results in a weakening of that wing. That’s mostly why these allegations are re-emerging. I don’t think it coincidence that it’s Hillary’s role in Bill’s “sex scandals” that are being highlighted.

Jones told some pretty obvious lies (like the shape and uhh… texture of Clinton’s penis).
Willey: Was more straightforwardly a claim of a grope. However, in her case even her own claim makes it unclear whether it was intentional or accidental. Plus more importantly, her husband committed suicide literally the same day, so she probably had more pressing issues on her mind which could well affect hger recollection.
Broadrrick: She perjured herself, presenting an affidavit, to the effect that it never happend and then recanted.

The claims made by the women could absolutley be true. However, they were investigated with a fine tooth comb by people not well disposed to Bill Clinton and who came to the conclusion that there was no case to answer. These are not like Trump or Weinstein allegations.

And of course even if all the actual sexual encounters turn out to have been consensual, Bill was still a serial adulterer which is pretty scummy in itself, although not remotely on the same scale as harassment or assault.

I recall saying at the time that I hoped Hillary was kicking him repeatedly in the crotch for his infidelity but that I was yet to be convinced that it was non-consensual, and I remain of that opinion.

I was a teenager at the time of the Lewinski scandal and not a particularly political one, so my knowledge of those goings-on isn’t particularly strong. But surely a salient difference between now and the mid/late nineties is that – now – there is a greater push to take women’s claims of harassment and assault at face value. I suspect that in a case similar to Broaddrick’s in which she initially claimed that Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein hadn’t assaulted her, but later recanted, doubting her story would be at least more controversial.

To my mind, there is so much extra context bundled up with the Bill Clinton harassment/assault saga that objectivity is probably difficult for people on both sides of the aisle. But I’m at least somewhat more inclined than I would have been a few years ago to take seriously the claims against Clinton. Why should I disbelieve Juanita Broaddrick but not the women who have come out against Roy Moore or Al Franken?

Because Broaddrick was willing to state under oath that Clinton hadn’t assaulted her, but later - not under oath - recanted. It muddies the waters considerably.

I can understand why she might lie about him assaulting her. I can understand why she might lie about him not assaulting her. But I think there’s sufficient reason not to accept either story without serious question. And if you believe that Clinton did assault her, you’re also accepting that she’s a perjurer.

I’ve always found thecase made by Christopher Hitchens against the Clintons to be very compelling:

That sounds to me like some grade-A conspiracy theory stuff, even if it had come from someone more trustworthy than Hitchens.

Not quite at the level of all that bullshit about how the Clintons had a bunch of people killed back in Arkansas, but getting in the ballpark.

If those women came out today against Bill Clinton with those exact same accusations, no more, no less, would we be as eager to dismiss their allegations?

What is your definition of “dismiss”, or, for that matter, “allegation”? Not many people ever said none of that happened, and please cite if you know otherwise. Are you willing to dismiss the importance of “consensual” or “adult” in an attempt to be both-sides-ist?

Not sure what you’re objecting to.

I think we agree that something inappropriate happened between BC and the three women (four, if we count ML). While it may have bee “consensual” between adults, doesn’t mean we can entirely “dismiss” since the women did come forward with a complaint. So it’s fair to question if there wasn’t some sort of power dynamic at play that would put their “consent” under a different light.

I’m not being both-side-ist. We’re discussing Bill Clinton and the allegations of questionable conduct wrt these women. In the current climate of heightened awareness, it’s not unreasonable to ask if we’d have taken these accusations more seriously or if he’d have suffered harsher consequences. I am in now way attempting to compare BC to any specific sexual harasser in the public eye today; I’m speaking only ofBC’s alleged actions.

Lots of things are different.

First off, how many people heard of anyone besides Jones and Lewinski when it came to the original incident? They were the big ones. I honestly didn’t even know this Broadchurch or Willey existed back then. Sure, we knew of some “other accusations,” but these were the ones considered most important. We all just assumed they were of the same veracity as the others.

Then there’s Broadchurch’s own denial. If anyone did know anything about her, it was that there was this one woman who signed an affidavit saying that nothing untoward actually happened. That’s just more reason to fit the concept that this was all a partisan attack.

And that’s an issue, too. The partisan attack. It’s not as if Republicans were upset about rape or anything. That shows by their priorities. They hired someone to dig up dirt on Bill Clinton. And they didn’t get him on rape or anything, but on his denial that he had an affair. The whole thing seemed like partisanship, so a lot of us didn’t research the details.

Also, how would we research the details? Sure, the Internet existed, but it wasn’t what it is today. You couldn’t go pull up Broadchurch’s statements. What we had was what the media told us, and what we were told was, again, about Lewinski and Jones. And Kenneth Star and Janet Reno. We didn’t have the info.

Since then, Broadchurch has recanted her denial. But she was also no longer in the news. The first time I heard about her was in the Clinton/Trump election, and it was, once again, partisanship. There was no way that Trump was against this sort of thing. He specifically brought it out because of the accusations against him. And Broadchurch herself came off as sympathetic towards Trump and his ideas, which made it seem like she was just doing it to hurt the Clintons.

But now we’re in the middle of a different, non-politically motivated anti-rape war. And the information that we didn’t have before is easily available. We know more about how people deny assault but later come back out with it, not because they are lying. We are in the middle of trying to push a great purge.

So we’ve turned back to look. And what we see shows that our reasoning was based more on all those other factors we mentioned than actually evaluating her story. We see that she’s not really that different from other stories we accept.

And, yes, I’ll admit it. We see this sort of thing being dismissed on the Republican side, and we find that disgusting. And we see a situation where, despite the above making it understandable, we seem to be fighting someone and not believing a rape accusation. We are ignoring how many were made. We see that there are skeletons in our closet we need to clean up.

We can’t really be the party that doesn’t accept rape and sexual assault if one of our more prominent people has issues on this subject. It’s a political liability. So we are less likely to give Clinton the benefit of the doubt.

In reality no two cases are the same. But whatever working assumption anyone reaches on charges being true or not, and people do tend to reach such binary working assumptions, IMO the principal working assumption should be that the person making that decision cannot actually filter out their politics. And for any foreigners about to claim they can, no, you also can’t. If Americans don’t comment on your politics it’s because we don’t care, if you didn’t care about ours you wouldn’t either. :slight_smile: Even if that bias is indirect (like, willing to condemn one person on ‘their side’ to gain credibility accusing a more important piece on the current chess board on the other side). Any cross-figure comparison thus is of dubious value IMO, unless the cases are so different it’s obvious to everybody.

On Clinton v his accusers, yes it muddies the waters that Broaddrick signed an affidavit in the Jones case saying nothing happened, which she later said was due to not being able at the time to bear reliving the incident again. It absolutely muddies them as far as prosecuting Clinton for rape: not possible. But a working assumption it’s not true is dubious IMO. And while this was a forcible rape allegation, not unwanted kiss/over-clothes grope, uninvited self exposure or entirely inappropriate consensual relationship with huge power gap, when you also you have to run down several of those and discount each one…

Nobody but the parties know the real truth of Bill Clinton dirt*. And to say he’d fare worse politically today you have to put it in context of how big a piece he’d be on the chess board of even more polarized politics. He’s not president now nor his did his wife become. People obviously aren’t as afraid of them (not necessarily in terms of ‘House of Cards’ type stuff, just normal career ruining stuff) as they were, as in a few notable Democrats now making hay by saying he should have been held to today’s standards and resigned. OTOH if Bill Clinton were the new young president now…that wouldn’t be Bill Clinton but somebody else who had operated in a different environment.

*what’s been exposed and whatever might not have been, including since his term. We don’t know what we don’t know. We do know lots of long past stories about lots of people now coming out, rumors about other stuff with him since office with no named accusers, but again there’s notably less fear now of the Clintons and this society-wide sexual abuse reporting ‘revolution’ is still young. I see real risk of looking stupid before long to claim everything about Bill Clinton has been gone over with a fine tooth comb in public.

Have you actually went back and checked the accusations? The consent issue isn’t there for these women. The women being brought up in this thread all claim there was no consent. And, of course, if there is no consent, the age issue isn’t particularly relevant.

And have you looked at what tactics were used to discredit them? Do they not seem a lot like the same ones used to discredit legitimate rape victims today?

Broaddrick even told many different people about the rape situation at the time. You know, the same sort of thing we count as very persuasive in other situations.

We may have had scandal fatigue before, both in the 90s and in 2016. But, looking back, Broaddrick, at the very least, seems quite credible.

I even went into it specifically hoping I’d find out why it was not credible, and failed. But all you have to do is read her account, as reported by Wikipedia, to see that it seems perfectly credible.

I doubt Jones. I doubt Willey. I can’t find a way to doubt Broaddrick. Just because we resolved the situation in the 90s or that it’s being used in a partisan way doesn’t mean that we can dismiss it.

No. The “if it was a member of your party” test is the simplest and fastest way to assess what one’s true standards are. Separating politics is not only easy, it’s necessary. A claim otherwise is a concession of the debate right up front.

As is an assumption that it wasn’t, given the context of Scaife’s Arkansas Project and his attempts to find something, anything, anyone, paying them if necessary, to get Clinton for something, ideally something that could be turned into an impeachable offense with Starr’s collusion. If you weren’t aware of that, perhaps if you weren’t old enough, you do need to inform yourself. Do please include informing yourself of what Jones (his star witness) actually said happened, along with what Broaddrick alleged.

But you do “know” it was dirt, and that there was a lot of it, even if you can’t say what it was? Do please consider that you may have been a target, successfully, of a long-standing campaign to make that view widespread, a campaign that continued through the last election, as you may know. Evidence does matter. Facts matter. Pretending they can’t be known but they must exist anyway is hardly honest.

Polarization isn’t new. Blame Gingrich for starting that environment out of the realization that it would lead to electoral success, which it did and still does. But props for the lip service to context, at least.

The real risk of looking stupid is in pretending that facts exist that do not, despite literally decades of energetic and well-financed efforts to find and, if necessary, create them. And it isn’t just a risk but a reality for those who indulge in it.

Sigh. You must have only recently heard the name Lewinsky.

Please get your facts straight. Those of us who lived through that period don’t need to go back and learn them.