The opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OnMilwaukee.com, its advertisers or editorial staff.
The Democratic National Convention has focused on an argument that goes something like this: Our children are watching and listening, and what are they learning from Donald Trump?
Answer: Not good things, and I agree with them on that. There’s no question that Trump is crass and has made racist comments that are completely unacceptable, such as by raising the heritage of the judge in the Trump University case. He’s certainly not been a paragon of virtue, either – stating it mildly.
However, this is the week of the Democratic National Convention, and I couldn’t help but think: What have our children learned from Bill Clinton? That oral sex isn’t really sex? Is he really the right person to showcase on a night about mothers?
Look, I get it. Hillary Clinton is running for president, and Bill Clinton isn’t. Yet, it was just cringe inducing to listen to Bill discussing their relationship through rose-colored glasses. And there is also a very disturbing pattern when it comes to how Bill Clinton treats women. The fact that Hillary, minimally, ignores this and has even been accused of participating in the cover up, is disturbing.
I am not talking about the consensual stuff, nor do I particularly care about Gennifer Flowers or whichever other woman has pranced in and out of his life. I’m not going to get on that soap box; we are all capable of falling, to be sure. Every person’s marriage is a mystery to those outside of it (and perhaps even to those in it). It’s really only Hillary’s business when it comes to the consensual stuff.
What I am referring to here, though, are the allegations of non-consensual stuff and the proven case of an abuse of power.
Let’s start with Monica Lewinsky. Yes, her relationship with Clinton was consensual. However, he was her boss. She was 22-year-old, and he was the much older guy in power – the Leader of the Free World. Yet, the feminist left trashed her and let him off the hook. Clinton took advantage of a very young intern and, worse, he showed a disturbing lack of empathy when he discarded her publicly to save his own skin.
He has shown a disturbing lack of empathy over how the scandal has continued to follow her and affect her life too. She is now a cyber-bullying advocate and for good reason. She has never married nor had children; she has said she finds it hard to get a conventional job, and she has been unable to completely shake off the shadow of scandal.
He doesn’t seem to care, yet he was the guy in charge. It is an abuse of power for an older boss to have a relationship with – or, in this case, use – a much younger intern in his or her employ. Yet, Hillary doesn’t seem to care, either.
Then there’s the well-known Paula Jones sexual harassment case, the accusations of Kathleen Willey, and, most disturbingly, the allegations by a woman named Juanita Broaddrick. Broaddrick came public with them in the late 1990s. She recently tweeted, "I was 35 years old when Bill Clinton, Ark. Attorney General raped me and Hillary tried to silence me. I am now 72… and it never goes away."
Wrote National Review, "Broaddrick’s stands out. It remains not only the most credible accusation against Clinton and the most serious. It is also the one about which the Clintons have said the least."
There are issues with Broaddrick’s story – namely she said under oath that the attack did not happen. However, after being given immunity by Ken Starr during the Jones’ case, she then recanted that statement and claimed that Clinton had raped her in a Little Rock hotel years before. She claims the rape was violent, and Clinton bit her lip and then made a blasé comment about it before he walked out.
This is not just a case of he said-she said. It’s been widely reported that Broaddrick told several friends contemporaneously that Clinton had attacked her, and two of them saw her injured lip. One saw her right after the alleged rape. Wrote National Review: "Juanita Broaddrick’s claim was supported by not one but five witnesses and a host of circumstantial (though no physical) evidence. Broaddrick’s colleague Norma Rogers … says she found Broaddrick in her hotel room crying and ‘in a state of shock’ on the morning of the alleged assault, her pantyhose torn and her lip swollen.
According to Rogers, Broaddrick told her that Bill Clinton had ‘forced himself on her.’" Although Clinton commuted the sentence of the murderer of Rogers’ father, she was not the only person in whom Broaddrick contemporaneously confided, said National Review.
Broaddrick didn’t seek fame or money; she avoided reporters’ inquiries for years. She also claims that Hillary Clinton made comments to her that implied she should stay silent. True, she didn’t come forward for years, either. And, yes, people are innocent until proven guilty in America. Including Bill Clinton.
However, there is a pattern. There is a troubling pattern of Bill Clinton abusing women or being accused of abusing women. I don’t understand, as a result, why a party trying to convince us that Republicans are warring against women props him up as someone to laud and respect. For destroying the life of a young intern alone – the incident he lied about and then admitted – I have no respect for him. Rand Paul was correct when, several years ago, he said this was an abuse of power. That’s what the issue was about, not the extramarital relationship (again, that’s between him and Hillary). It was about the abuse of power. Or should have been, including back then.
The Clintons have said almost nothing about Broaddrick, by the way. Bill Clinton’s attorney has denied the allegations, but both Clintons have been very circumspect about what they personally say. This is troubling. Bill Clinton should be asked to respond directly to the allegations, as should Hillary, who opened the door when she tweeted that "Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported."
Bill Clinton is Bill Clinton, I guess (although do we really want to relive his exhausting scandals?). I know he has his strengths as well as his weaknesses. And on the Republican side, you have a guy, Trump, who calls women dogs and rates them. Yes, this election is a nightmare. However, when it comes to Bill Clinton, spare me the adulation.
Jessica McBride spent a decade as an investigative, crime, and general assignment reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and is a former City Hall reporter/current columnist for the Waukesha Freeman.
She is the recipient of national and state journalism awards in topics that include short feature writing, investigative journalism, spot news reporting, magazine writing, blogging, web journalism, column writing, and background/interpretive reporting. McBride, a senior journalism lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has taught journalism courses since 2000.
Her journalistic and opinion work has also appeared in broadcast, newspaper, magazine, and online formats, including Patch.com, Milwaukee Magazine, Wisconsin Public Radio, El Conquistador Latino newspaper, Investigation Discovery Channel, History Channel, WMCS 1290 AM, WTMJ 620 AM, and Wispolitics.com. She is the recipient of the 2008 UWM Alumni Foundation teaching excellence award for academic staff for her work in media diversity and innovative media formats and is the co-founder of Media Milwaukee.com, the UWM journalism department's award-winning online news site. McBride comes from a long-time Milwaukee journalism family. Her grandparents, Raymond and Marian McBride, were reporters for the Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel.
Her opinions reflect her own not the institution where she works.