In Which the Left Joins the War On Women


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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130 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    Yeah D’s and lots of liberals fell for team loyalty over seeing the obvious wrongness of what Clinton did. However i couldn’t’ help but laugh to see the first “Left” person you noted was Maureen Dowd. Dowd really went for the super sized helping of sexism back in the 90’s but does anybody actually like her and is she even a D or a liberal. She has been the butt of jokes about how bad she is for years but i don’t know anything more about her.Report

  2. Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

    I am going to sign on with greginak on all points especially the Maureen Dowd observation. She hasn’t been considered a viable or desirable part of Team Donkey for years. She is often a columnist that makes most of the newer liberals hackle at the NY Times op-ed page along with David Brooks and Ross Douthat.

    I am curious about how you connect events that are decades apart with many people who were in power then, out of power now. Who is an elected Democratic politician that attacked Monica Lewinsky and also attacked the war on women. I imagine newer liberal bloggers like Amanda Marcotte and Jessica Valenti and Kevin Drum would defend Monica Lewinsky.

    Do you think the Democratic Party should have voted for Clinton’s Impeachment?

    No attack on the Monica Lewinsky (as regrettable as they were) also involved the Democratic Party seeking to pass legislation that got rid of no-fault divorce, made it harder for a women to get birth control, criminalized miscarriages and required doctors report miscarriages, or limited access to abortion. You are really demanding a purity and perfection that is impossible for anyone to follow and comparing radically different things. People are not saints and they will fuck up and be hypocrites. This is regrettable but it does not mean that the Democratic Party is insincere in opposing the things I mentioned above.Report

    • The things Tod is pointing to weren’t said fifteen years ago… they’re being said now.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

        He’s not saying that (I think).

        He’s saying (I think) that because they’ve made some pro-women choices since then that this doesn’t count.Report

      • I was referring to the second paragraph, about how newer liberal bloggers would behave. That suggested to me a distinction between then and now. Which would be more relevant if you were unearthing old quotes.

        At this juncture, the costs of admitting that Lewisky, Willie, Jones and so on were wrong are much lower than they were back then. But even so, Marcotte and Drum and all telling Clinton-defenders to cut it out would at least provide some substance for that argument.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

        Ah. Well, yes then.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Will Truman says:

        IIRC the argument from the left side of things back then was “this is none of our business,” not that Lewinsky was a slut.

        That slur-shaming is going on now by anyone is reprehensible.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

      Do you recall the feud Jessica Valenti and Ann Althouse had a few years ago?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

        Sorry, that was to Saul regarding his sentence: “I imagine newer liberal bloggers like Amanda Marcotte and Jessica Valenti and Kevin Drum would defend Monica Lewinsky.”

        (though the feud launched due to the perception that Valenti appearing with Clinton in a photo op was an endorsement of his treatment of Lewinsky – not anything Valenti said about Lewinsky directly)Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kolohe says:

        Nothing particularly anti-feminist or anti-Lewinsky from JV in that feud, from what I recall. Some of her defenders went after Althouse’s womanhood but not Valenti herself.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to Kolohe says:

        On a slight tangent it seems to me that Althouse and Megan McArdle are both treated worse than men of similar views by many on the left.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Kolohe says:

        Wait, does Ann Althouse have consistent political views? I thought she just had a series of irritable mental gestures designed to irritate liberals. There may well be something gendered about how liberals react to her, but her offensiveness has very little to do with her actual positions on the issuesReport

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

        IIRC, it began with Althouse calling Valenti a slut because, in a group photo with WJC, she smiled and tried to look attractive, the way people do when their picture is being taken. I don’t think it demonstrates anything besides Althouse being bananas.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

        Althouse wrote a post about being very offended by a story Obama told about his apartment being so messy that Michelle refused to sleep there. The president joking about premarital sex!

        I pointed out to her in the comments that Obama was talking about his place in Washington when he was in the Senate. She declined to acknowledge this or edit her post.

        So, yeah, I have a hard time having any sympathy for her.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to Kolohe says:

        I know this: I was once doing a Google search on a topic related to trans stuff and ended up linked to Ann Althouse’s blog.

        I found it unpleasant.

        It seems her readership believes me less than human shit.Report

  3. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    The Clinton administration was before I started paying attention to politics, so while I’m aware of this whole situation I don’t know the details. But having a sexual relationship with a person who is in a subordinate position to you, as Bill Clinton did, is always inappropriate. The power differential is inherently problematic, even before you add in the age difference.

    Democrats blaming Lewinsky for the whole thing need to stop and re-think.

    But I think you’re wrongly targeting ThinkProgress. Going from what their article says, they’re simply saying that you should allow people who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or rape to define their experiences in their own terms and not invalidate their own descriptions of what happened.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to KatherineMW says:

      @katherinemw It’s still framing the subject in terms of “Is Monica or Isn’t Monica?”

      Imagine what we all would have said if Herman Cain’s supporters had made the argument that since his victims had gone on to successful lives that none of it mattered. And I’m assuming that’s what TP is doing, unless there’s another post they’ve put up that I missed that frames the issue directly through the lens of what Clinton (both of them) and Clinton supporters did/didn’t do.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I don’t see anything in the article making any claims resembling what you’re accusing them of saying. This is the core of the article’s argument:

        Questions about Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky can be useful entry points into those larger discussions about power, and the fact that parsing consent becomes much more difficult when power is unbalanced. But looking in from the outside and labeling Lewinsky as a victim erases her own voice in this situation, and isn’t necessarily the right way to spark a compassionate conversation about rape culture, according to activists in the field.

        Sexual assault advocates take a “victim centered” approach to this issue, which ultimately focuses on following the lead of individual survivors. That means that if an individual chooses to tell someone else about their own experience with sexual violence, they’re supposed to be the ones controlling the conversation. “Anytime someone discloses to you, regardless of who you are, the best attribute you can have is to listen,” Sherelle Hessell-Gordon, the executive director of the DC Rape Crisis Center, noted.

        What, precisely, is your issue with this view, or your reason for claiming that ThinkProgress is saying Bill Clinton’s actions “didn’t matter”?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I see what Katharine sees. TP isn’t defending Clinton’s behavior or denying that he abused her.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I have to agree with Katherine and Mike here. I don’t think ThinkProgress’s article fits into this narrative.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Having a romantic and sexual relationship with a subordinate is a sign of impropriety and it has great potential to be much worse than inappropriate but saying that its always inappropriate is a bit much.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to LeeEsq says:

        are there cases where it’s actually appropriate?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Probably very few but if the actual difference in power isn’t really that great and the person in the higher position does not have any direct ability to make the person in the inferior position miserable if they refuse, it might be fine.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to LeeEsq says:

        “subordinate” implies power over said person in the org structure, though.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        No, it’s never appropriate. If such things arise, the military transfers folks to avoid the inpropriety (then they can date). Ditto with schools.
        Our Commander in Chief ought to have done the same.Report

  4. Avatar zic says:

    Thank you for writing this.

    My rejoining this lovely group came at Lewinsky’s defense.

    The Clinton machine is wrong to do this. It was wrong with Flowers, wrong with Jones, wrong with Lewinsky, and it’s disgusting.Report

  5. Avatar Creon Critic says:

    Democrats are right — there really is a war on women. Sadly, it looks like it’s being waged by pretty much everyone.

    Not to minimize (or excuse) the ill-treatment Lewinsky faced then or faces today, but I think the war on women frame focuses more on public policies that constrain women’s autonomy: the position on access to reproductive health care, ratifying CEDAW, cutting WIC, a rigorous regime against gender pay discrimination, etc.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Creon Critic says:

      Similar to Saul’s argument, if I’m reading it correctly?Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Yes. So as important as the partisan media machine / chattering classes treatment of an individual is important (that’s not sarcasm, as someone interested in cultural studies, to me it is important), also of significance is what public policies will be instituted that impact tens of millions of women. Cutting WIC by upwards of $100 billion over ten years*, for instance, is going to have a lot more on-the-ground consequences than Maureen Dowd’s latest column on Lewinsky. That’s a distinction that the claim everyone is waging a war on women elides.

        * Here,

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Creon Critic says:


      “Not to minimize…but” unavoidably has echoes of “I’m not a racist, but…” It’s extremely difficult to say “Not to say X, but…” without it looking like the speaker is in fact saying X.

      And I can’t help but read your argument as “yeah, it’s bad to call a sexual harassment victim a whore, but as long as we do other pro-women things, we’ll just overlook that.”

      I know without a doubt you don’t intend those, that that’s not what you consciously think or believe. But, man, it’s sure hard not to read that message between the lines.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley says:

        I also call BS on defining the “war on women” as respecting taxpayers’ and employers’ property rights.Report

      • Taxpayers’ and employer’s rights to what? Discriminate against women? Pay women unequally for their labor? Ensure more families suffer from food insecurity? Or is it ensure more women suffer from inadequate access to affordable, essential health care?

        By the way, this is precisely where thin conceptualizations of economic and social rights leads, towards valorizing the needs of employers and taxpayers and callously disregarding the rights (and well-being) of anyone in need.Report

      • Let’s imagine a scale of 1-4, very important, important, unimportant, very unimportant. To me, Lewinsky bashing is a 2 (important), not a 3 (unimportant) or a 4 (very unimportant). The public policy elements the war on women tends to focus on are a 1 (very important). That’s what I was trying to say. So “we’ll just overlook that” is not the message between the lines – I’d give Lewinsky bashing a 3 or a 4 if I thought it ought to be overlooked or minimized.

        Overall, what happens to Lewinsky in the pages of the leading magazines and newspapers is less important to me than what happens to the well-being of millions of people in need of access to adequate health care and food security – that’s the difference between 1 and 2. Saying that alone though, could make it seem as though I rate Lewinsky bashing as a 3 or a 4. I don’t. Gender in the culture also matters. How lawmakers allocate tens of billions of dollars and the rights to redress discrimination in the courts matters more to me and I’d argue to the war on women frame. Which is why “…there really is a war on women. Sadly, it looks like it’s being waged by pretty much everyone.” struck me as incorrect.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:


        I get you. But doesn’t the bashing still send a message that women are 2nd class in the U.S.?

        Or better put, what’s grating at me is that while you clearly think it’s a bad thing (and I get your classification scheme and am not critiquing that), you’re so very measured in your critique that it still doesn’t come across as though you find it very offensive. I.e., you’re saying “it’s bad, but these other things are more important,” rather than “while these other things are more important, this is vile and disgusting.”

        Now in the way I’ve written this, I’m somewhat putting you in the front as “the face of liberals” and making you personally responsible for the tone. That’s not a fair thing, of course, and I’m not really trying to do that. But I am trying–perhaps not clearly or elegantly–to get across a sense of how I find the way or tone in which liberals here are talking about this still seems to downplay the Lewinsky-bashing instead of actively calling it out.

        I mean, this isn’t a case where it’s a choice of having to focus our energies on, say, health-care availability or telling people to stop calling her a whore. Both can be done, and calling out those who are bashing her can be done quickly, vigorously, and and firmly without at all interfering with efforts at those policies that–reasonably–rank higher on your priorities list.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Hanley says:


        If I may jump in a bit. I somewhat regret that my comment below said little (if anything) to rebuff the criticism. The reason it didn’t is because I haven’t really heard anyone criticize Monica recently. That’s not to say the criticism doesn’t exist — Tod does a good job of documenting very real examples — but that there is a difference between a few big name writers penning pieces that wrongly and unfairly criticize Lewinsky and a broader believe in the inferiority of women held by liberals as a group. I simply never really hear Lewinsky talked about; the first thing I heard of this recent interview was in relation to her criticizing a rapper who had a lyric about her.

        Ever since the Lewinsky scandal broke, I’ve always considered Clinton a dog. A dog who might be good at certain things, but a dog nonetheless. And the range of my feelings on Lewinsky extend from her being a victim of Clinton’s predation to her being a fully willing participant in the relationship who was than victimized by a variety of outside forces.

        So the extent to which I have been largely silent about her criticism is because I haven’t really interacted with it in any meaningful way. Which isn’t really okay. Obviously, the criticism exists. Any slut shaming or other sexist or misogynistic attacks on Lewinsky are wrong… full stop. While the motivation behind them might be more about political opportunism than active animosity towards women, the effect remains the same: the creation of atmosphere where the standards are different — and unfair — for women.

        So, yes, liberals should be critical of those amongst us who are indulging in this nonsense. But do bear in mind that some of us might not actually be experiencing this nonsense because it seems concentrated to people who are uniquely interested in discussing politics and, specifically, the Clintons and politics. I dare say that most liberals don’t think about the Clintons on a regular basis.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to James Hanley says:

        I dare say that most liberals don’t think about the Clintons on a regular

        Are you aware that the 2016 presidential campaign is well under way?

        That sounds snarky, probably, but I don’t intend it to be. I’m not sure how closely you follow electoral politics, so I don’t know if you’re aware how early the serious campaigning starts. But HRC is running hard for the office right now, and it serms to me liberals are thinking a lot about her these days.

        As to Lewinsky, she was out of the news for a long time, so naturally there wasn’t much talk about her. This recent flare-up of chatter is, well, recent. I’m not sure why she decided to go public again, but I think the Dem/liberal response is an important thing.Report

      • Avatar NewishLawyer in reply to James Hanley says:


        How do you feel about unemployment insurance?

        I agree with @creon-critic and find how these issues get framed in the mind to be interesting. I view the safety net as a safety net. It recognizes that people can become the victims of economic forces that are beyond their control. Lately I have been seeing many articles about how poverty came to the suburbs because of the Great Recession. People with good jobs or decent jobs lost them because of the financial crisis and have not found anything comparable yet. In my mind, the safety net exists because of “but for the grace of God there go I.” Too many people are a disaster away from poverty and this is not good. A safety net is needed to shield people from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune which can change quickly and then stay low for a long time.

        A lot of people who take welfare were once taxpayers and might still pay taxes. I paid federal taxes when on unemployment insurance last year for a month. Now I am a taxpyer again. Are Journalists to blame for the death of newspapers? Part of a consumer economy is that a lot of people employed might get laid off when the market for consumer goods dries up. From what I’ve read, a good chunk of Americans will spend a few years and only a few years in the top 20 percent of income earners. There is lots of flucuation except at the very top and very bottom.

        I always try to remember my Hillel. “What is painful for you do not do to others. The rest is commentary.”

        It seems fairly obvious that it would be painful to me to be denied aid, comfort, and charity when I need it. I cannot do that to others.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley says:

        Taxpayers’ and employer’s rights to what? Discriminate against women? Pay women unequally for their labor? Ensure more families suffer from food insecurity? Or is it ensure more women suffer from inadequate access to affordable, essential health care?

        The right not to have to justify their management practices in court, at great expense, just because a woman afflicted by Dunning-Kruger decided that her mediocre performance review was just a cover story for failing to promote her because she was a woman, or because an enterprising lawyer decided to roll the dice and file a class action lawsuit based on unequal outcomes. The right not to have to make suboptimal business decisions to avoid the appearance of discrimination. Not to mention the rights of consumers not to have to pay for this waste.

        There’s no compelling evidence that pay discrimination is actually a major issue. When controlling for a number of different factors, the pay gap shrinks to mid single digits. “Ah ha!” you say, “That’s discrimination.” Well, no. It’s something. It might be discrimination, or it might be other factors that weren’t properly controlled for.

        And yet the long-discredited myth that women are paid 23% less than men “for the same work” is repeated over and over, even on the official web site of the President of the United States. This does not suggest a low false-positive rate for sex discrimination lawsuits.

        If you think that expanding the welfare state and antidiscrimination law are good policies, fine. That’s a tenable position, at least. But they have real costs that fall on people who have done nothing wrong—indeed, in the case of taxes, they fall most heavily on those who have done a great deal right. Trying to pretend that these costs don’t exist and demonizing opposition to these policies as a “war on women” is high school stuff.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        The right not to have to justify their management practices in court, at great expense, just because a woman afflicted by Dunning-Kruger decided that her mediocre performance review was just a cover story for failing to promote her because she was a woman, or because an enterprising lawyer decided to roll the dice and file a class action lawsuit based on unequal outcomes

        Sometimes people are who we thought they were.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        My, how illiterate we are in the free market!
        I highly encourage you to read the market research on use of women in factories, and the amount of abuse that can be poured onto them without adverse consequences to the profit margin.

        And then, I’d like to remind you that the third world isn’t the only place where corporate slavery exists.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley says:

        How do you feel about unemployment insurance?

        I’d like to see it privatized. I’ve seen some abuse of it, including a friend who went on a long vacation without seriously looking for work, and someone who offered me completely unsolicited advice about how to milk unemployment (schedule interviews and intentionally fail them) twenty minutes after meeting me at a party. There’s also some evidence that odds of finding a job jump up sharply just before benefits expire.

        On the supply side, I’ve heard reports of unemployment offices being extremely uncooperative with employers attempting to report abuse. Warren Meyer claims that when attempting to report abuse he was threatened with criminal charges if he failed to prove it definitively.

        Which is to say, there does not seem to be a particularly strong incentive to stop fraud and abuse, as there would be if it were privatized.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley says:

        Oooh! Burn!

        Do you believe, Chris, that the false positive rate on sex discrimination lawsuits is negligible?Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to James Hanley says:

        The right not to have to justify their management practices in court, at great expense, just because a woman afflicted by Dunning-Kruger decided that her mediocre performance review was just a cover story for failing to promote her because she was a woman, or because an enterprising lawyer decided to roll the dice and file a class action lawsuit based on unequal outcomes.

        Ah, yes, the right, where lawsuits are always unjust. (Lawsuits, of course, being the sole remaining method to keep powerful entities from abusing everyone else.)

        Tell us, are you asserting that discrimination on the basis of gender literally does not happen? Not on average, because woman can’t sue ‘on average’, that’s not how lawsuits work. Are you saying it literally does not happen? Are you saying that there are no examples of it?

        If it does happen, are you asserting that women should have no recourse? Not even the courts?

        I’m interested in how this all works out in your head.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley says:

        No, I’m sure it does happen. But I don’t think it’s particularly common or severe. As noted above, when controlling properly, the wage gap is quite small, and it’s not clear how much of the remainder is due to discrimination. Given that, I think it’s quite likely that the costs of false positives and defensive management outweigh the costs of actual discrimination. We all know people who attribute their personal failings to being treated unfairly by others. We all know that people imagine persecution where it doesn’t exist (The War on Christians, for example). There’s no reason to expect members of legally protected classes to be any less prone to this kind of delusion.

        I don’t think women should have no recourse when they feel they’re being discriminated against—I think they should have exactly the same recourse men have when they feel that they’re being treated unfairly, which is to seek out a better offer from a competing firm, and then either accept it or use it as leverage to get a better offer from his or her current firm. I’ve done it myself. It’s not a big deal. This is how things work in a civilized society: You convince people to give you what you want voluntarily by giving them what they want, not get the government to force them to do so.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Hanley says:


        I do not follow electoral politics… not this early, at least. I certainly know that HRC is a big name for the Dems in that regard, but haven’t really thought about it beyond that. And outside of my friend who used to work on the Hill, I haven’t talked about 2016 with anyone.

        However, you are right that the Dem/liberal response to Lewinsky matters. And the responses that Tod shared above are highly problematic. Wrong. Awful. Whathaveyou.

        I guess what I’m trying to determine is how representative of liberals in general they are. My sense is that they aren’t particularly representative. Of course, that needs to be juxtaposed against how representative conservative mouthpieces are of conservatives in general. I’m not well positioned to make that assessment because of my own biases and skews in my social circles.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley says:

        By the way, as the incidence of actual discrimination decreases—does anyone dispute that this is happening, or at least has happened in the past?—it’s likely that the percentage of discrimination lawsuits which are unwarranted will increase, if there’s no equivalent downward trend in the factors that lead to unwarranted discrimination lawsuits. So it’s possible that anti-discrimination law was worth the costs in the past but is not anymore, or will cease to be at some point in the future.

        Note also that unwarranted discrimination lawsuits need not be fraudulent. It’s very easy to convince oneself that one is being treated unfairly when one is not. When your career is not going as well as you’d like, “I’m being discriminated against” is a much more palatable explanation than “I’m just not doing as good a job as I need to be.”Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        A simple “submit your payscales” for men and women, removing experienced based differences might be a better case for enforcement than using trials and lawsuits.

        I’d favor an executive solution if possible, rather than a judicial one.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        your male privilege is showing through. You think that negotiating is Not a Big Deal.
        Men on average are better at low-priority negotiation than women are.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to James Hanley says:

        A bit tangential to the thread, but I noticed this, regarding unemployment insurance, and “abuse”-
        Why is it called “abuse” when people manipulate their affairs so as to extract the maximum benefit from the system, yet there are countless seminars offered wherein consultants offer advice on how to manipulate one’s affairs to minimize or avoid taxes?

        It isn’t fraud unless a law is actually broken- this, we are constantly reminded when the subject is taxes, campaign contributions, or any other white collar behavior.

        So when a welfare recipient uses legal means to maximize their benefits, why do we consider it shameful?Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to James Hanley says:

        It’s not even ‘male privilege’. It’s the rather delusional idea that workers have any negotiating power at all at this point.

        And it’s also the rather delusional idea that people work at ‘firms’ that run around judging people for how well their work is, like everyone is working for a law firm or something.

        In the actual world, most people work at places that promote people either completely randomly based on how much the boss likes someone, or based on some sort of fixed system. And incompetent people get fired.

        And most gender discrimination lawsuits are not based on promotion. They are still, in this day and age, based on paying people with identical job duties and performances differences in salary based on gender. Which in Brandon’s world apparently doesn’t exist, despite the Lilly Ledbetter case being in very recent memory.

        But I’m sure the sole female area manager just happened to be 14% worse at her job than the next lowest performing of the fifteen male area managers, though.

        Your premise is only makes any sense if you don’t look at what the Paycheck Fairness Act actually did. It did three things:

        1) It made it law that employers could not demand employees not discuss wages. You know, so they learn how much others are paid, the exact thing people need to know in order to negotiate. (Please note this was already an employment regulation, this just turned it into actual law.)

        2) Prohibited retaliation against employees who raised concerns about gender equality. (In basically the same way that dozens of other things are not legal to retaliate against employees for.)

        3) Required things that employers actually stated they were discriminating on the basis of were actually relevant to the job. I.e., if an employer, when sued for not hiring women to a position, said that the reason they weren’t hiring women for that is that the job required the ability to lift 70 pounds, they’d been required to explain exactly *how* the job required lifting that much, and showed they actually tested employees for that. They couldn’t just handwave the discrimination by inventing a job requirement that ‘just happened’ to mean no women were hired, or job rating that ‘just happened’ to mean no women were promoted.

        That’s what it going to do, regulationwise. (It also did some random data-driven things like creating studies and surveys and stuff, which, if there actually is no real discrimination, people should be happy about. And created random some programs, like awards for paycheck equality and some training classes in negotiation for women. But those aren’t regulations of businesses.)

        Which of these, exactly, would you have an issue with? Which of these, exactly, would result in added pointless lawsuits?

        Given that, I think it’s quite likely that the costs of false positives and defensive management outweigh the costs of actual discrimination.

        When the fuck did we start determining that wronged people couldn’t get justice because the system is is a net drain? Of *course* people having to fight to get justice is a net drain. It would be a net drain even if every lawsuit was 100% justified. There’s no actual way it could be otherwise.

        Or rather, when the fuck did we start determining that wronged people couldn’t get justice because you make a totally unsourced and speculative idea the system is a net drain?

        The entire concept you’re trying to promote is completely and utterly insane, even if you had some sort of evidence towards it, which you have none at all.

        And, of course…if women really are only getting paid 5% less…that’s 670 billion dollars they are being shortchanged, based on total US income of 13 trillion. (And that’s just their paycheck for their job, it doesn’t count lost promotions.) Are you really asserting that gender discrimination laws cost the US that much to enforce?

        Of course not, the cost of all ligation in the US is only about 250 billion total.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        pardon me. yes, in the current job climate, you’re absolutely right.Report

      • @lwa Something doesn’t have to be fraudulent to constitute “abuse.”

        The reason we have unemployment is so that you have something to lean back on while you look for work in earnest. There’s no way to legally define “in earnest” and so the system has various proxies (did you make three job contacts every day, is typical). But it’s easier to support the system when people are using it for what it’s there for.

        To be perfectly honest, I have twice “abused” the unemployment system to varying degrees. In both cases I wouldn’t have turned down the right job offer if it had been extended, but I also didn’t give it my all. I knew that there was a place I could apply for work, where I would be hired, but made sure not to apply because it’s a terrible employer. When unemployment ran out, I applied and worked there until I couldn’t stand it anymore (about three months). In a second case, when I was eligible to get back the job that I had lost – but which I didn’t want – I stopped collecting unemployment so that I wouldn’t have to take it.

        What I did wasn’t fraudulent. It was legal. But it was also a circumvention of what the system was for. It’s not something I am proud of. At best, I think it’s in a gray area.

        As far as hiring tax lawyers and whatnot to pay the minimum amount of taxes… well, that depends on what specifically we’re talking about. It’s not fraudulent if it’s within the letter of the law. But it can be abuse.Report

  6. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Think Progress adds more fuel to that fire, saying “you shouldn’t tell Monica Lewinsky if she was raped,” because apparently in 2014 if a woman feels “empowered” then her male superiors are excused for whatever.

    She said that we shouldn’t tell Monica Lewinsky that she was raped because Monica Lewinsky insists that it was consensual. This strikes me as pretty sound logic. As far as I know, she has never even alleged that he pressured her to have sex, much less forced her. Am I wrong about that?Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      As far as I know, she has never even alleged that he pressured her to have sex, much less forced her. Am I wrong about that?

      You remember the same as me. I’ve been racking my brain for any assertions of that. As far as I can tell, there’s never been allegations he abused his power that way.

      In fact, the lack of him doing that is the reason the Paula Jones suit was dismissed at the start. She could not show any damages from what she asserted Clinton did. (She says he exposed himself to her while he was governor, and propositioned her, but she could not come up with any harm, or even any threatened harm, that had come to her as a result of turning him down.)

      Lewinsky just wrote a book and went on the interview circuit, and she’s made it very clear, at least in the interviews (I admittedly have not read the book) that the problem she has the way the media and politicians acted during all this.(1)

      The worse thing she’ll say about the relationship is that Bill ‘took advantage of her’, but by that I suspect she means: If I had been less naive, I would have realized the dangers of starting an affair with the president. And Bill let me walk right into it, despite him certainly knowing.

      1) It’s interesting to note that she doesn’t even have a real problem with Hillary’s insults of her, except she points out that Hillary seems to be blaming Hillary and Monica for the affair, and the person she should actually be blaming is Bill.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to DavidTC says:

        Monica Lewinsky seems to be a decent enough sort (and certainly not an attention whore!).
        If we weren’t talking about the Commander In Chief, but instead a rockstar, nobody would be blinking an eye. (of course, no one would have been so blatantly mysogynistic, either).Report

    • Yes I remember it that way too. The situation likely does not meet the LEGAL definition of sexual harassment. That does not make it appropriate or the sort of thing we need to tolerate. If I were a corporation’s lawyer and the CEO had completely consensual sex with an unpaid intern, I’d advise the other board members they had to take prompt disciplinary action even if there was no legal liability. Double standard for high ranking leaders. They get held to a higher standard of conduct than ordinary schmoes.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Burt Likko says:

        There was definitely tension between the potential abuse of power and the rights of consent; I’m pretty firmly in the camp that 1) you don’t hit on your subordinates and 2) the subordinate has the right to decide if it was harassment. That suggests it will always be a gray area.

        But the problem here was not Lewinsky or Clinton; it was the Star investigation, the impeachment proceedings, and the media treatment of Lewinsky. Ken Star was the Clinton Administration’s version of obstruction today; a firmly held belief by GOP power brokers that the Democratic president, elected democratically, was illegitimate.

        Lewinsky, however you judge her morals (and I’m not a big fan of either Lewinsky or Bill Clinton when it comes to their personal sexual mores at that time,) was a pawn in that game.

        What’s really interesting to me is that the whole scandal has this mythic quality in so many of the 30something generation; a conversation begun, but not settled.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Media, GOP, and Linda Tripp were all issues, yes.

        But set it all aside, and you still have the President of the United States using the power and majesty of his office to get a blowie in the Oval Office. Unacceptable.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Burt Likko says:

        The situation likely does not meet the LEGAL definition of sexual harassment.

        I’ll take your word for it, but I was specifically responding to the idea that it should be considered rape—which I think is nuts—not that it should be considered sexual harassment, a topic on which I have no strong opinion.Report

  7. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Slightly off thread, but:

    (The Right, of course, is being the Right.)

    Whoa. Amazing. Just a perfect distillation of so much of what’s so wrong about the Right right now. I mean, here’s a perfect opportunity to attack liberals and Clinton supporters for throwing women under the bus, and they go conspiracy theory on us.Report

  8. Avatar Adam Hoch says:

    I think you’re reading many of those articles really uncharitably.

    Weigel’s piece seems more of a piece of media criticism than anything directed at Lewinsky, his discussion the previous times she spoke to the press are in service of an (admitedly nitpicky attack of headlines describing the vanity fair piece as “breaking silence” and defending Slate’s treatment of the forthcoming piece, not an attack on Lewinsky.

    You really mischaracterize the think progress piece, there’s no hint of the sentiment “in 2014 if a woman feels “empowered” then her male superiors are excused for whatever.” Saying that the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship wasn’t rape or assault is nowhere near saying (or even implying it was ok. Consider the third paragraph (my bold) :

    There were obviously huge power differentials in Lewinsky’s sexual relationship with Clinton. She was a 22-year-old intern; he was 30 years her senior, her boss, and the leader of the free world. It’s understandable that her insistence it was fully consensual has inspired some skepticism. But sexual assault prevention activists point out it’s not necessarily our responsibility to ascribe labels to other people’s experiences, including Lewinsky’s.

    and the closing paragraph:

    Lewinsky’s retelling of her experiences with Clinton could help Americans grapple with these questions [what consent is] about consent, and consider some of the barriers to navigating it in certain professional situations — especially since she acknowledges that a man in a position of power “took advantage” of her. But that’s a very different, more nuanced process than deciding Lewinsky must be a victim even though she’s insisting she doesn’t want to call herself one.

    This article reads far more as a defense of Lewinsky than an attack on her. Clinton clearly isn’t excused here while he may not have raped or assaulted her what he did wasn’t ok.

    I don’t know how you can read Nia-Malika Henderson as providing “cover for the absurd argument that feminists leaders didn’t leave Lewinsky out to dry.”
    The second half of the article is devoted to showing that in fact feminist leaders did leave Lewinsky out to dry. Henderson looks at a 1998 article that describes contemporary Feminists as having a “see no evil… hear no evil … speak no evil” attitude towards the affair – showing that at the time the were valid complaints that feminist leaders behaved poorly, a 2000 interview with Betty Friedan where Friedan says “What is your concern with some little twerp named Monica? ” – another instance of a feminist leader hanging out to dry. Henderson then indicates that the problem may be ongoing – feminist leaders are still hanging Lewinsky out to dry:

    Sixteen years later, some are again pointing to the failure of women to rally behind Lewinsky, arguing that the slut shaming continues, and is being led by women — “Why are women piling on Monica Lewinsky?,” was the subject of an exhaustive (and exhausting) “Morning Joe” segment that mirrored much of the conservative arguments about feminists at the time.

    The only thing that even remotely resembles a defense of feminists is the founder of Jezebel saying:

    “I am uncomfortable with the idea that “feminists” failed Ms. Lewinsky. I am far more comfortable with the idea that certain high-profile activists, intellectuals and writers who’d exhibited a measure of sophistication and sensitivity with regards to gender politics failed her, and failed her big time”

    I don’t see how any of this can plausibly be read as providing “cover for the absurd argument that feminists leaders didn’t leave Lewinsky out to dry.”

    I don’t see anything in the Balloon Juice article you cite as talking about “why they support the Clintons.” Rather it’s a long excerpt of O’Connor article mainly focusing on the difference between sex scandals now and then in the context of an open thread.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Adam Hoch says:

      “that’s a very different, more nuanced process than deciding Lewinsky must be a victim even though she’s insisting she doesn’t want to call herself one. ”

      Apparently you don’t ever read the internet, where it’s taken as a given that if a male engages in a sexual relationship with a female who can be at all said to be in a position of reduced power, then it’s inherently rape.

      These days it would be completely obvious that Lewinsky had been raped. Nobody would even stop to ask the question, and they certainly wouldn’t listen to her–of course she’d claim it was consensusal! Her job depended on it, after all!Report

  9. Avatar Will Truman says:

    I actually think there will be a course-correction here in relatively short order. Back in the 90’s, there was a whole lot at stake with defending Bill Clinton. I don’t think they would do it any differently today. But here the incentives aren’t so great, and I there’s at least going to be a fair amount of pushback from the inside. Unlike back then, there’s a lot less to lose and more to gain by treating Clinton’s behavior more seriously.

    I do think that this speaks a great deal about our (as in “people’s” not “the left’s” or anything) default reaction to certain things. An inconvenient sexual harassment accusation? Well, it didn’t happen and they’re lying. Or if they’re not lying, then it probably wasn’t a big deal. She was asking for it. All he did was grope her and he accepted no for an answer. The overriding thing being a desire not to believe that the accusation is true, combined with norms that make blaming or hanging responsibility on the woman the easiest thing to do.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:

      Pretty much, @will-truman

      Though there are some other dynamics that bug me; a powerful man groping his adoring assistant/aide/groupie is one thing; it might ding his career, but not really, and the woman has the slut shaming to cope with. But a powerful woman? She’s got to be above reproach. Lot of weird dynamics flow out of that double standard.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        Powerful women get blackmailed just as frequently as powerful men. If it’s not sex, it’s drugs.
        [In short: nearly every damn person in washington and tons outside of it have something to hide. Sometimes it’s even faked footage.]Report

  10. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I was in middle and high school during the Clinton years (and I’m pretty sure the latter when the Lewinsky story broke). I didn’t follow it all that closely but obviously it was such a part of the zeitgeist it was hard not to know a good deal about the story. While Lewinsky has long been the butt of jokes, I never got the impression that anyone who thought seriously about the matter thought anyone other than Bill himself was the problem.

    Ignorance is bliss, I guess.Report

  11. Avatar Shazbot3 says:



    A few liberals attack one woman, wrongly probably.

    And that is “liberals” (all, most, or many) joining the war on women (in general.).


    I actually find this a bit offensive. The war on women is so big and so awful and the D’s and to a greater extent liberals have been on the right side. By saying that a few comments means they have joined the war mistakes what the war is.

    The war involves not just a few mysoginistic comments aimed at Palin or whoever, but a consistent neglect of women’s interests, issues, and rights and a set of policies that are antithetical to women’s issues, and a set of sexist attitudes (often subconscious) that lead to those anti-women positions.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Shazbot3 says:

      @shazbot3 I’m sure they’ll get right back on the right side of things as soon as they don’t feel the need to attach good spin to someone named “Clinton.”Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Shazbot3 says:

      “A few liberals attack one woman, wrongly probably.”

      Slut-shaming: not really that big a deal after all!


      Yeah and that means something when we’ve been told that the “it” in question is inherently wrong, can’t ever be right, can’t ever be excused, poisons the whole tree, matters more than anything else, and that’s why nobody should ever vote for a Republican.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Jim Heffman says:

        One instance of attacking a woman by a few liberals is not the same as the near universal mysogynistic war on woman attacks of the conservatives.

        It is another false equivalency.

        By analogy, a few liberals who are antiGMO is regrettable but it does not mean liberals are anti-science in the wat that conservatives are nearly universally anti-science.

        This is all really obvious.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jim Heffman says:

        One instance of attacking a woman by a few liberals is not the same as the near universal mysogynistic war on woman attacks of the conservatives.

        Whether or not it is the same or not isn’t really the point of the post. Also, “near universal mysogynistic war on women” from “the conservatives” makes me wonder what your opinion is of the ~ 44% of women who voted for McCain in 2008.

        By analogy, a few liberals who are antiGMO is regrettable but it does not mean liberals are anti-science in the way that conservatives are nearly universally anti-science.

        Um, this is a very bad analogy. For starters, conservatives are not anywhere near “universally anti-science”. In addition, I’d guess that the count of liberals who are “antiGMO” are… somewhat larger than a “few”.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Jim Heffman says:

        Significantly larger than “A few” isn’t the enviromental movement almost entirely anti GMO?Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Shazbot3 says:

      I suspect much of this is the continued purity test liberals must pass in order to be liberal in non-liberal eyes; if they don’t pass those tests 100% of the time, obviously they’re liberals in name only or something.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Shazbot3 says:

      I don’t agree, Shazbot.

      It doesn’t make any sense to say, when conservative commentators and representatives make sexist comments, “this just goes to show how hostile conservatives are to women!”, and then when liberal commentators make sexist remarks, say, “this doesn’t matter in the least!”

      Either sexist comments are indicative of a certain attitude towards women, or they are not. Either they should be criticized and called out, or they should not. But treating them as important indicators of sexism when one group (with policies that disadvantage women) make them, and irrelevant/unimportant when another group (with policies that are less inclined to disadvantage women) makes them, is a genuine double standard.

      And “War on Women” has frequently been used (including by me) in reference to sexist statements by Republican politicians and commentators. So referencing it when posting about sexist statements by liberals/Democrats doesn’t seem inherently out of place.

      Not all of the quoted material actually says what Tod claims it says, and it certainly doesn’t reach the level of Repubican attacks on, say, Sandra Fluke, but it doesn’t magically become non-problematic simply because it’s being said by liberals/Democrats.Report

  12. Avatar zic says:

    Here is the real war on women.

    And if you want to fight in that war, I’d follow some of Kristoff’s recommendations at the end of the column. For Mothers Day, make a donation to to Camfed’s Back to School effort in your mom’s name.Report

  13. Avatar notme says:


    What do you expect? Liberals can be just as hypocritical as Repubs despite their constant claims of moral superiorityReport

  14. Avatar Shazbot3 says:

    Critical Thinking 101 Assignment:

    Explain how the following is an ad hominem argument (involving the claim that the left is hypocritical) stated as a rhetorical question: “How am I supposed to take the Left’s War On Women concerns seriously when they continue to get history’s most famous case of sexual harassment so terribly wrong?”Report

  15. Avatar Barry says:


    “On a slight tangent it seems to me that Althouse and Megan McArdle are both treated worse than men of similar views by many on the left.”

    I’d like to see evidence of this. For example, Megan has been caught lying and fudging numbers a great number of times. She also earned a great deal of disrespect for working against Obamacare in The Atlantic while her fiance was a Koch-funded astroturfer.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Barry says:

      For evidence, look to your own comment, @barry

      She also earned a great deal of disrespect for working against Obamacare in The Atlantic while her fiance was a Koch-funded astroturfer.

      You didn’t give her full faith and credit in her own ability to astroturf; you potentially suggest she did it in some male protector’s name.

      /and I’m only being partially snarky here; but why not presume, instead, that Suderman began astro turfing to win her favors? Or why not presume they hold similar ideology that self-reinforces each of their perspectives, and makes it easier for each to avoid biased pushback? Why default to the age-old position that she does something in deference to him?Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to zic says:

        Dave Wiegel at Slate also gets criticized for his past Koch Brothers connections.

        Liberals have been consistent in attacking all Koch Brother Tea Party astroturfers whether male or female. I think McMeagan believes what she writes but that doesn’t make her a great arguer. I also think Jennifer Rubin and Heather McDonald sincerely believe in what they write. They can still be disagreed with.

        This is where the partisan brain hurts everyone. We can never see the like or dislike. Conservatives wonder why liberals love Krugman and dislike McMeagan. Liberals wonder why conservatives hate Krugman but love Douthat or Charles Krauthumer.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to zic says:


        Have any liberals said anything about Radley Balko’s connections to the Koch Brothers? It’s not that liberals don’t like Megan McArdle it’s the tone (McMegan) and amount of criticism that she get compared with men with similar view E.G.: Ronald Bailey).Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to zic says:

        And it’s not just women where liberals act this way. If conservatives criticized a Black liberal in the way that liberals criticize Clarence Thomas; liberals would be very quick to say it was racist.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to zic says:

        @dand I believe McMegan actually uses McMegan at times in comments threads.

        The only criticisms of Thomas that i’ve seen among liberals, and i’ve seen plenty, are that he has a ideology/philosophy we strongly disagree with. Also never speaking in court makes it hard to tell if he has already prejudged the matter or what he is up to. All the other judges ask questions.

        PS I’ll add on that his wife was heavily involved in and paid for anti-ACA work yet he still took part in the decision on the ACA which was a massive conflict of interest.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:


        I think you sort of missed my point (and I’m in agreement with yours).

        McMegan’s got her own mind; and Barry linked what she writes to her fiance/spouse’s activities.

        This is like some very basic misogyny; a built in presumption that a wife/girlfriend reflects her male partner.

        And it’s really common; @greginak sort of made the same error in this subthread with Clarence and Ginny Thomas.

        Sometimes it’s true, too. But developing the habit of presuming women have their own agency is good.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to zic says:

        If conservatives criticized a Black liberal in the way that liberals criticize Clarence Thomas; liberals would be very quick to say it was racist.

        What types of criticisms are you thinking of?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to zic says:

        How about criticisms that he’s unintelligent and just does whatever the white conservative judges tell him to do?

        Those feel pretty similar to the whole “Obama needs white people to tell him what to say on a TelePrompTer”Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to zic says:

        @zic I think your point about McMegan and her hubby is good. She has her own point of view and certainly never denied her spousal unit was also a libertarian. Where he worked isn’t relevant.

        Re: Thomas and his wife is a very different matter. Thomas profits from his wifes work as any spouse does. He was hearing a case where his wife was very involved in activist work on one side. That is a conflict of interest on Clarence’s part. With McMegan and McSuderman there was no conflict of interest, they were each just expressing their own view points.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to zic says:


        A) Do liberals actually make those arguments? I dunno, myself, I’ve never heard anyone say that about him. (I have heard people say that he parrots Scalia, but I don’t find anything racist about that.)

        B) If liberals are saying that, then it’s not the case it’d be racist (or viewed as racist) because a conservative said it, but because it’s just plain ole effing racist.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:


        I pretty much agree, which is why I said “sort of,” your comment was here and was a good enough conflation of wife = husband to use an an example of the thing I’m trying to point out. There is the complication of joint marital assets to complicate this; and I agree Thomas should have recused himself if his wife was earning income from her activities.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic says:

        “Have any liberals said anything about Radley Balko’s connections to the Koch Brothers”

        Quite often. (just follow Balko’s twitter feed and watch his RT’s)Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic says:

        I do often wonder, if Mathew Yglesias and Megan McArdle – two individuals that came into blogging about the same time and alumni of the same hoity toity private NYC high school – if they had swapped genders, 1) would either of them get half the gruff they get 2) would either of them have careers?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to zic says:

        Rubin doesn’t. After the election she admitted that her constant praise of Romney was purely a campaign tactic, and she was glad she could stop.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to zic says:

        When Jim Fallows writes about something his wife is involved in, he adds that as a disclaimer. McArdle failed to do that. How is it sexist to point that out?Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to zic says:


        It is impossible to prove whether they would each have careers or not. Both of them were fairly connected (Matt is directly connected to print on both sides of the family but his mom is a journalist.) Matt Y feels more like a flavor du jour to me but in watered down form because he is not an economist.

        Why do you think neither would have careers if the genders were switched and Matt Y was the semi-conservative libertarian and McArdle was the “Liberal who likes classical economics and makes really horrible arguments” from time to time. Both seem fairly immune to criticism or thinking their critics have any valid points.

        I suspect they would get grief but different. McArdle would get attacked for being a neo-liberal for all the reasons liberals attack neo-liberals and Matt Y would get attacked for all the reasons liberals currently give McArdle grief.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to zic says:


        Re: Clarence Thomas

        Is it racist if a white liberal quotes Thurgood Marshall’s comment on Thomas? Which was something along the lines of a snake is still a snake regardless of being black or white?

        Most liberals I know think that Thomas is possibly the most conservative justice out there and much much more radically right-wing than anyone else on the court. One of the reasons he is largely uneffective as a Jurist is because he wants to go far enough that Scalia, Alioto, Kennedy, and Roberts think he goes too far. Thomas would get rid of incorporation and he thinks it is fine and dandy if Alabama wanted to make Southern Baptism the state religion for example or Utah wanted to make Mormonism the state religion.

        Now psychoanalyzing your ideological opponent is always tricky. This most recently came up with when Thomas reminisced about his boyhood in the South and how things were better than and liberals thought with the same “Oh really?” as if Cliven Bundy made that comment.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

        I don’t really pay attention to Thomas, but did he really say things were better under segregation? Do you have a link to that?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to zic says:

        @chris Here. He said
        ““My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious that I was in the 1960s when I went to school,” he said, the Daily Mail reported. “To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up.”

        “The worst things that have been done to me, the worst things that have been said about me, [were] by northern liberal elites, not by the people of Savannah, Georgia,” he said, the Daily Mail reported.

        Read more:

        Hey, its his life so who am i to say anything about it. But it wouldn’t surprise me to here an older white person from the south to say race never came up in the old south. If a black man didn’t notice race coming up a bit back then, well as an official white person, all i can say is that really really really puzzles the heck out of me.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to zic says:

        , I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up.”

        Other than, you know, when every previous black kid was excluded.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

        Hmm… well, the first of those statements is just absurd. I mean, “I was the first black person…” because of race consciousness, not because no one was paying attention to race. The second one, well, that’s his experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how it really felt to him.Report

  16. Avatar Barry says:


    “One instance of attacking a woman by a few liberals is not the same as the near universal mysogynistic war on woman attacks of the conservatives.

    It is another false equivalency.”

    Bloggers and columnists on the left = bloggers and columnists and big religious leaders and Congressmen and governors and Senators and talk radio guys (audiences of millions) and Fox News.Report

  17. Avatar tgm says:

    the “war on women” is nothing more than a distraction. the real war the the war on the working class by the Capitalist Class. both parties talk about race and gender in hopes that the public won’t notice that both parties are controlled by Plutocrats. the corporate media is always providing propaganda for Banking Interests. the Monica Lewinsky was staged by the Plutocrats in order to allow congress to deregulate Wall Street without the public noticing. while the public was focused on Lewinsky congress passed the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act allowing the Plutocrats to become even more wealthy by destroying the economy. Diane Feinstein became mayor of San Francisco after she and the Banking Interests staged a bloody palace coup yet when she was elected Senator all the Plutocrat run media talk about was the fact that she was a womanReport

  18. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    A few thoughts…

    Clinton was my Commander in Chief through most of my Navy career. There was a lot of talk about how what he did would be a court martial offense for any of us in uniform. Actually, at least three offenses: fraternization between officer and enlisted, adultery, and sexual harassment. It wasn’t great for morale and respect.

    Then there was the whole debate about whether “high crimes and misdemeanors” meant high (crimes and misdemeanors) or (high crimes) and misdemeanors, and whether the whole thing was impeachment-worthy or not. (I always found the second interpretation bizarre, with an excluded middle of mid-level felonies…)

    Finally, to return to the present, I guess this must be a print blog/columnist thing because I’ve heard basically nothing about it on left-wing radio. The closest I’ve heard to a sexist remark was positive, noting how good she looks at forty.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Road Scholar says:

      I always found it really odd the phrase was ‘Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors’.

      Okay, yes, obviously the president should be removed from office if he commits treason. Duh.

      But bribery? Why does bribery need to be listed, and who, exactly, would the president be bribing?

      Or do they mean if he is bribed? Which is not actually the crime of ‘bribery’ in the modern world, but maybe that’s what it’s supposed to mean.

      Seriously, bribery is the crime listed there? Not, I don’t know, murder?

      Of course, there’s an outright screwup in the entire process, talking about the Senate: ‘When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.’

      But technically, *any* officer holder can be impeached…include the vice president. Guess who the president of the Senate actually is? Guess who could decide to preside over his own conviction trial? Whoops. That probably should have been ‘When the President or the Vice President…’

      I don’t think any VP actually has been impeached, though. Anyone *except* the president can be charged with a crime without impeachment…the only other people who have been impeached are, I think, some Federal judges.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to DavidTC says:

        Not, I don’t know, murder?

        Dueling was still pretty popular around the time they drafted the thing.

        I always want to bring that up whenever someone tells me they’re a strict Originalist…Report

      • Avatar Matty in reply to DavidTC says:

        A president could presumably bribe congressmen or supreme court judges to back his pet law, which would threaten the separation of powers. Maybe that’s what they were thinking of.Report

  19. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Two quibbles with the piece Tod quotes:

    Her freedom of speech is enshrined in the Constitution.

    Honestly, you only need to drag out the Constitution to defend people with no other leg to stand on, like Nazis and funeral desecrators. Lewinsky’s saying something true and important, and that’s the point that needs to be made against her attackers. (None of whom are, so far as I know, violating any laws.)

    They are more concerned with protecting the legacy of one of our richest and most powerful men, than allowing a young woman the space and time she needs to resurrect herself from an ugly life experience.

    No, they’re more concerned with not jeopardizing his wife’s presidential prospects in 2016. Without Hilary, I think Lewinsky’s re-emergence goes largely unremarked, much as no one defends or minimizes JFK’s frequent transgressions.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      No, they’re more concerned with not jeopardizing his wife’s presidential prospects in 2016.

      I hate to break it to all of those guys and gals, but if Hilary runs for President in 2016 and she gets the nomination, we all already know what the party music is going to be, right?Report

  20. Avatar Chris says:

    While I can’t tell if liberals are siding with the Clintons this time (the TPM article doesn’t seem to be saying anything problematic, even if it conflates some issues I think), and I assume the “war on women” line is hyperbole (perhaps intended to highlight the fact that Tod believes it’s hyperbole when used with conservatives as well?), but man was the misogyny out in force when the initial story came out back when. It was pretty gross, and I hope that if something similar happens in the future we don’t have a repeat of it.Report

  21. Avatar Damon says:

    My primary take away from this kerfuffle was back then, and still now, that poltical supporters of elected officials and parties, along with their associated toadies in the media, will whore themselves to any extant needed if it supports “the cause”, even to eating their own.Report

  22. Avatar DRS says:

    It’s all rather fuzzy after all this time but didn’t Lewinski say something about “presidential kneepads” regarding her new job at the WH? I certainly got the impression that she was not at all unwilling to pursue Clinton. Did he take advantage of that? Most assuredly, especially if she thought there was a chance he’d leave Hilary for her after he was out of office – I’m blanking here: did she think that?

    However, being young and stupid and willing to acquiesce in your own degradation does not mean that you’re free from being criticized for your actions. If she writes the article in the spirit of looking bad at her foolish behavior, that’s one thing – if the article is a repetition of her resentments about his stringing her along (assuming he did string her along) with no new insights, then I do think it’s legitimate to disregard the whole thing as irrelevant. Consensual sex that ended badly. Film at 11.

    Most assuredly, Clinton is guilty of sexual harassment, since he was her office superior at the time. But then Callista Gingrich is in the same situation with regard to Newt, even though their romance ended in marriage. Where are the calls for Newt’s head on a platter? Where are the insults thrown at Callista that she’s a slut? Is it because Callista didn’t go public? That’s she’s middle-aged and dresses in nicely tailored middle-aged-lady suits? What’s the real issue here: that ML was taken advantage of or that she rather enjoyed being taken advantage of before she realized how she was being manipulated and had been from Day One?

    This has always been a strange issue, imo. There’s a lot of posturing for the back rows on everyone’s part.Report