Tuesday, October 11, 2016

And The Winner Is...Bill Clinton

Trump is the consequence of the culture both Clintons created.


By William McGurn
The Wall Street Journal
October 11, 2016

Sunday night’s presidential debate did clarify one thing: Whatever happens on Election Day, Bill Clinton wins.

If Hillary Clinton is elected, he will return to the White House—this time as First Spouse, with all the perks and none of the responsibilities.

Yet Mr. Clinton wins even if his wife loses. Because a Trump victory would mean the American people have bought the argument Bill Clinton has been selling ever since that first bimbo eruption: So long as a man has never pretended he was a choirboy, his sexual life has nothing to do with his fitness for office.

Even perjury doesn’t matter under this standard. Throughout the 1990s America was constantly lectured that Mr. Clinton was guilty only of “lying about sex,” which apparently gives you a pass from that tell-the-truth-the-whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth thing. Nina Burleigh, who once covered the Clinton White House for Time, was probably more candid about some of what was behind this when, in the midst of President Clinton’s sex travails she told a Washington Post reporter, “I would be happy to give him [oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal.”

Now it is Mr. Trump who invokes the Bill Clinton standard. Just before the weekend, in what may be the first of more to come, an NBC tape emerged in which Mr. Trump is bragging—in language more at home in Hustler than in the mouth of a GOP presidential nominee—about how he pushes himself on married women. In response, the national commentariat pronounces itself shocked.

But why should anyone be surprised? After all, in “Trump: The Art of the Deal” this same man wrote, “If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best seller.”

Even so, the Trump tape unleashed new waves of neo-Victorian indignation. Once again, it was not enough to denounce The Donald. While Trump critics didn’t quite call those who would still vote for him deplorable, they came awfully close. A number questioned Mike Pence’s decency in staying on the ticket.

In other words, now that we know how coarse Mr. Trump can be, the only proper course is to reject him. Never mind that in some ways this would be the ultimate phoniness, given that, like Mr. Clinton, Mr. Trump’s extramarital sex life has not been a secret—though Mr. Clinton has certainly lied about it more often.

It also misreads the argument for Mr. Trump. Notwithstanding some evangelical pronouncements about Mr. Trump’s relationship with Jesus, it’s not likely that the many decent Americans who support Mr. Trump will ever confuse him with St. Paul. To the contrary, their calculation is pretty basic: Given the reality that either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump will sit in the Oval Office come January, they’d rather have the candidate who will not use the entire power of the federal government to ram through rules and policies hostile to their beliefs.

Here Mrs. Clinton, to her credit, is unusually frank about what these priorities might be. Plainly they will include an activist Supreme Court that she may get to shape for a generation to come, one that will continue to unearth hitherto hidden constitutional rights as it usurps the right of a free people to make these decisions through their elected representatives. These priorities will also mean more diktats such as the Health and Human Services mandate requiring Catholic nuns to provide contraceptives to employees.

Does anyone believe a Trump administration would be anywhere near as zealous as a Hillary Clinton administration in pursuing these issues? And given the alternative of a woman who has never told the truth when a lie will do, is it really obvious that it’s beyond all morality to opt for the vulgar man who might even help revive the economy and help opportunity for millions?

Today we forget how many times it looked as if Bill Clinton’s career would be ended by his sexual indiscretions. In 1992, when he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president, Mr. Clinton put the case for him this way when he found himself pressed about marital infidelity in that now-infamous “60 Minutes” interview:

“I know it’s an issue, but what does that mean? That means that 86% of the American people either don’t think it’s relevant to presidential performance or look at whether a person, looking at all the facts, is the best to serve.”

Six years later, Americans learned President Clinton had had a sexual relationship with an intern. Once again Mr. Clinton’s initial instinct was to lie about it, publicly and defiantly. The dominant mood was he would have to resign.

But he didn’t resign. Instead, he fought back. And he won, largely because he and his wife refused to abide by norms about the decent thing to do in such a circumstance.

In this sense, Donald Trump is the new Bill Clinton. And if he does pull off a win in November, it will be in good part because of a culture that Hillary Clinton did much to create.


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