For some of those most depressed by the 2016 election, one of the joys of the Trump era has been the Clintons' hard times. They have been kicked to the curb by the horse they rode in on, which was Harassment, Inc.
The heady days in 1991 of the Hill-Thomas hearings were the springboard of choice for the Arkansas couple, the way for the first feminist man and wife combination to be running for president to distinguish themselves from the pack. Together, they hitched themselves to the Year of the Woman, ran with and for the two new women senators elected, and never looked back.
For a very long time, the tension between what the Clintons claimed to support and what they did in real life was ignored or overlooked by the world and their party. In 1998, Bill was saved by the Democrats’ intense exertions; in 2000, Hillary was sent to the Senate in exchange for her sufferings. In the years that followed he was a star at their many conventions. In 2016, they were 77,000 votes in the upper Midwest away from returning to the White House as a history-making first couple, with the roles of the man and the wife interchanged.
Now, in 2018, they are for the first time in trouble, mainly because of things done by others. For the first time in their charmed lives, they are genuinely damaged goods. As Dan Merica and Eric Bradner of CNN reported a week ago, they are personae non grata in what was for a long time their own party, people whose presence is to be avoided when running for office, or at most doled out in small doses to gullible people: "Hillary we could probably use in targeted ways," they quote one professional. "The Bill question gets very tricky…zero tolerance means zero tolerance…we have to mean what we say."
"The Bill question" arose because the public’s disgust with things done by the Weinsteins and Lauers of the world collapsed the "it was just sex" and the "everyone does it" excuses that the Left once used in defense of its president. What followed was a delayed recognition that it was the reputations of both of the Clintons — he for his acts, she for covering up after him — that helped to elect Donald Trump. The devastating effects of the Access Hollywood tapes, revealed around noon on Friday, October the 7th of 2016, were neutralized at the second debate just two days later, as Trump had arranged for five Clinton accusers — Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey among them — to sit in a box near the stage.
One year later, with other Hollywood news in the headlines, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., wondered aloud if her party hadn’t hurt itself badly with its all-out defense of its former leader, and suggested Clinton should have stepped down. At the same time, shade was tossed toward Hillary for her tepid and tardy comments on Weinstein, not to mention her open assaults on her husband’s accusers. As CNN’s source told the reporters, it’s now hard to embrace people who don’t take women’s claims seriously — and one of those people is she.
Slowly and surely, people are coming to see that Hillary’s responses to claims of predation are solely conditioned on whether or not the person in question has done or could do her some good in her opinion; true of Bill Clinton; true of Harvey Weinstein; true of her 2008 campaign's "faith outreach director," who wasn’t dismissed despite his harassment of female co-workers.
At a recovery session at the Washington Post, Clinton was described as "extremely flawed, and not always pro-woman," despite all her talk in public. Justice delayed is not justice completely denied, and it is also sweeter than nothing at all.
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."