The funniest story of the year so far has to be the one in the Washington Post this past Sunday about the complaints of 11 or so women who profess indignation that their claims of having been groped, propositioned, or disrespected by our esteemed current president seem not to have landed at all, despite Harvey Weinstein's scandal.
Worse, the women who wrote the piece took it all seriously, so it is not until far down in the story that they seem to have found the truth: "The same factor that helped Clinton survive impeachment and remain in office helped Trump overcome the accusations of misconduct against him," Elaine Kamarck, a scholar at Brookings, told the reporters. "The fact is, there were bigger issues at play."
The "issue at play" was the need to protect a political leader. Democrats did it in spite of what they had said and done six years before in the "Year of the Woman," which rose from the highly contested Hill-Thomas hearings. Having lifted the issue of "workplace harassment" to the heights that it stands on today, Democrats completely changed direction when their own president found himself accused of a number of things by a whole lot of women.
Suddenly, it was discovered by Anita Hill's old supporters that an accusation itself was actually not proof of anything, that the benefit of the doubt went to the accused in any proceeding, and some women weren't to be trusted at all.
Suddenly, those who rallied around the powerless victims supported the powerful man accused by a number of powerless and fairly low-ranking aides. Suddenly, those who insisted the personal was political decided it wasn't. Bill Stryon, his activist wife, and Arthur M. Schlesinger signed petitions defending the president's privacy; Barbra Streisand asked us to "respect the boundaries between public and private behavior," and not mind the latter at all.
As for the feminists, Hill's backers were silent, except when defending the president. Susan Faludi suggested that all those women actually seduced him; Jane Smiley praised his urge to "connect." "We need to think of the bigger picture," Eleanor Smeal admonished. "I simply don't care," said Betty Friedan.
Writer Anne Roiphe was perhaps the most honest: "It would be a great pity if the Democratic party is damaged," she said. This seemed paramount in Schlesinger's mind when he penned a long and disjointed New York Times article in which he said among other statements of principle that gentlemen "always lie" about sex. "Even if what a president does in his private life is deplorable, it is his own business," he scolded. "Many people seem to feel that questions no one has a right to ask do not call for truthful answers ... When the people elected Mr. Clinton ... they did not think they were sending a choirboy to the White House ... If Hillary doesn't care, neither do we."
Come 2016, and Hillary Clinton herself was running for president against a rival who in some ways was rather like Clinton. And she was doing her best to make people care about it, at least in her opponent's case.
Unfortunately, they failed to rise to the level of outrage she had been expecting. For in their defense of her husband, she and the Left had handed a get-out-of-jail-free card to his future successors. And now that they want to, they can't retrieve it.
Noemie Emery, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."