Continued from yesterday…
If we grant that both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have behaved appallingly towards women, it’s still hard to tar either of their wives with that brush. Indeed, in an apparently new wrinkle of detail that appeared this year, Juanita Broaddrick does claim that Hillary Clinton threatened her into silence… but this stems from her claim that HRC came up to her at an event (a few weeks after the rape, in 1978) and thanked her for everything she did for Bill’s campaign…
Again, I’ll repeat: I’ve been a victim of rape. However I still think this is a long bow to draw. In isolation, thanking someone for their support is not the equivalent of threatening them, unless you’d earlier explicitly stated that the “support” you wanted was indeed, silence. And how does one imagine that that conversation between Bill and Hillary would have gone? “Honey, I raped somebody tonight.” “Oh dear. Did you at least tell them to keep their mouth shut? Do you need me to put extra pressure on them?” It’s far more logical to assume that HRC knew nothing about the attack and was simply making conversation with someone who worked with her husband. It’s not a threat without first assuming knowledge on Hillary’s part.
In addition to that, I’m really not sure what any of these three women were expecting Hillary to do in response to their accusations. Are people seeking out Melania and trying to get her opinion of the woman who filed a child-rape lawsuit against her husband? How many people go to the spouse or family of their attacker looking for support? I wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t be surprised or particularly offended if that support wasn’t forthcoming. Human beings have their loyalties, and sometimes that means being blind to the failings of those you love.
The fourth woman that Trump paraded in front of the media was Kathy Shelton. Shelton was raped by a neighbor when she was 12 years old (again, this was in the 1970s) and Hillary Clinton was appointed as her rapist’s public defender (allegedly because he wanted a female lawyer, and there weren’t many to choose from). Hillary Clinton taught criminal law at the time, but did not regularly serve as a criminal attorney. It was apparently only recently that Shelton realized that her rapist’s lawyer was indeed Hillary Clinton, so this story is at least “new” as far as the news media may be concerned.
I provided a link yesterday to the audio tape of HRC allegedly laughing at the rape, but I’ll share it again, if only because it’s really not that damning at all. The tape, recorded in the mid-1980s for a news article which was never published, has Clinton recounting her time working on the case several years earlier. In it, she clearly implies that she believed her client was guilty. The times that she laughs (in a kind of cynical, “the world is fucked” sort of way) are in reference to the fact that she no longer believes in polygraphs after her client passed, the fact that the judge didn’t want to discuss details of the case in front of her (a woman), and the fact that the prosecution inadvertently disposed of the physical evidence that linked her client to the crime. Is she intellectualizing and objectively analyzing a very emotional story? Yep. Has she lost sight of the fact that she’s talking about a life-destroying event inflicted on a 12-year-old? Kind of, but really what she’s talking about is how the prosecution fucked up the case. She’s in the bind of being required by law to defend a client who she knows is guilty, but she also knows that the State can’t prove it. So, as far as her version of events goes, she tries to plead him down to a lesser charge…
I think that’s really important, because the fact is that (if the evidence was indeed as flimsy as she claims on the tape) she could have chosen to roll the dice on a trial and got her client exonerated. Instead, she pushes him towards a plea deal that at least sees him serve time. She mentions at one point an agreement that he serve 5 years, but then after they see the judge this changes to time served. It’s not clear from her account as to whether it was her or the judge who pushed to have the charge dropped so low, but I still think it’s important that her story demonstrates the fact that she was trying to get the guy convicted… even though she couldn’t be seen to be doing so, because that would have caused her to lose her law license. When it’s framed as a story about “Hillary Clinton laughs at rape” it sounds very damning… but listening to her story does not condemn her at all. It could at least equally be headlined as “Hillary Clinton tried to get guilty client to serve time in prison, despite lack of evidence”. What happened to Shelton was horrible, and she has a right to feel aggrieved, but it does not appear from the tape that Clinton was her enemy in any regard.
As with so many of the scandals in this bitter, devious campaign, this again seems to be a case of smoke without fire. Indeed, the Wikileaks emails are similarly nonexplosive. Just thousands of pages which expose the inner-workings of an organization with internal power struggles, and endless concerns for popularity. Again, there shouldn’t really be shock and outrage over the fact that a political campaign frets over how their candidate plays in the media. That’s what a campaign team is for.
Trump has references a couple of points from these emails, which he appears to think are signs of something more sinister. One is an alleged passage from one of Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, which was brought up at the debate on Sunday:
During a talk before the National Multi-Housing Council in 2013, she talked about the need to keep political negotiations secret, for instance, citing the example of Abraham Lincoln’s wheeling and dealing to get the 13th amendment passed. “I mean, politics is like sausage being made,” she said. “It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.”
At the debate, Clinton did clarify that she was referencing Lincoln in this speech – but that clearly played badly with the audience. Instead, she could have simply pointed out that holding two positions simultaneously is part of what any good politician must do. Sometimes your personal views or morals are in opposition to the views of your electorate, your party, or the law… and that’s fine, because in this case the voters expect you to advocate for their views and not your own. You might not personally like gay marriage, but it’s the law now (and is supported by the majority of many electorates) so you have every reason to defend it.
Once again, a tiny portion of Clinton’s speech, taken out of context, sounds pretty damning. However, when considered in totality it’s really not damning at all. She’s saying something that people might not want to acknowledge, but which is still quite true.