sage Maureen Dowd —
Privately, veterans of Hillaryworld admired Paul’s savvy appeal to the base. As one noted dryly, “When you’re playing with the hard-core base, there’s no statute of limitations on crazy fooling around with an intern in the Oval Office.”
I agree that Paul’s aim was true. He distracted from the Republicans’ abysmal war on women by pointing at an abysmal moment in feminist history, when feminists betrayed their principles to defend a president who had behaved in a regressive way with women because he had progressive policies on women.
Instead of owning up, Bill Clinton forced his humiliated wife, a feminist icon, and women in his cabinet — Madeleine Albright and Donna Shalala — into the dreadful position of defending him when he was lying about his conduct.
Seven years after the feminists tried to bring down a Supreme Court nominee for sexual harassment — but really for his conservative stances — they went into contortions to defend Clinton. Gloria Steinem wrote a Times Op-Ed titled “Why Feminists Support Clinton” that somehow boiled down to “yes means yes.”
Paul told me that he thinks that Hillary is “as much a victim as anybody” in the Monica affair. It is true that Hillary was a victim — a sympathetic role that won her support and a glamorous Vogue cover and laid the foundation for her Senate run. Hillary’s popularity rises whenever she is brushed back by men, whether it’s her own husband or Rick Lazio in the Senate debate or Barack Obama in his “You’re likable enough, Hillary” debate faux pas.
Asked if he could be helping Hillary by shaming her, Paul chuckled and said, “This isn’t something we considered to be a strategy or something.”
It certainly helps him, showing he can take on the Clintons and giving him culture war cred to balance out his libertarian positions.
It is not so simple to cast Hillary as a victim; she was also part of the damage-control team to vouch for her husband and undermine his mistress. White House aides and other Democrats spread the word that Monica was a troubled young woman with stalker tendencies. Sidney Blumenthal, a senior White House adviser, later testified that Hillary told him that “she was distressed that the president was being attacked, in her view, for political motives, for his ministry of a troubled person.”