Maureen Dowd was one of the few journalists to win a Pulitzer Prize in the Clinton years for being critical of the Clintons, winning in 1999 for her columns during the Lewinsky scandal. So she was consistent on Sunday to proclaim Rand Paul’s “aim was true” to recall when feminists went limp throughout 1998 despite Clinton's audacious adultery.
Even so, Democrats were also consistent in telling Dowd the Republicans will never regain the White House if they’re "going to fight the wars of the ’90s." (This, from the people who wanted to fight a war over Mitt Romney's alleged high-school haircut bullying at age 18 in 1965.)
Every time Republicans overreached and thought they had killed Clinton Inc., he bounced back and they took a whack. As Bill told Ken Gormley, the author of “The Death of American Virtue,” “I felt they were Wile E. Coyote in the pack, and I was the Road Runner.”
Even the conservative Dorothy Rabinowitz in The Wall Street Journal took Paul to task, noting that while the former president’s choice to accept Monica’s advances was “an outrage and a national embarrassment,” it was not “a boss preying on an innocent.”
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.
Dowd interviewed Sen. Paul for her column:
Senator Claire McCaskill told Andrea Mitchell that she found Paul’s comments “infuriating,” and that he was just “grasping,” trying to show he could be tough in a bid to win the presidential nomination.
But back when McCaskill, now on Team Clinton, was trying to crush Team Clinton and get Barack Obama elected, she said this about Bill: “He’s been a great leader, but I don’t want my daughter near him.”
Paul brought that up with me, suggesting that if McCaskill were being honest and not partisan, she would still be worried about having her daughter around Bill and that maybe there’s a double standard for the famous.
“In my small town, we would disassociate, we would in some ways socially shun somebody that had an inappropriate affair with someone’s daughter or with a babysitter or something like that,” he said, adding: “There’s no reason why we should give up on having some sort of belief in social standards” and on what’s “appropriate, inappropriate, right, wrong.”
Paul went a little too far in tilting toward Hillary's complete innocence in his Dowd interview, even for Dowd:
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 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.”
Monica had to be sacrificed for the greater good of the Clintons and feminist ambitions. Hillary was furious at Bill — stories were leaked that he was sleeping on the couch — but she also had to protect her political investment. If he collapsed, she was done. And she was going up — to the Senate and eventually the Oval Office.
Bill was Hillary's "political investment." Those words appeared in the Sunday New York Times.
Dowd noted how the press -- not just the news media, but glossy "hip" magazines like GQ have tried to rehabilitate Clinton: "With the passage of time and a cascade of fawning magazine covers, Bill Clinton’s image has evolved, leaving the repellent sexual scandals a pentimento in a new, more magnetic portrait."
That's what Team Clinton is counting on.