Our so-called elites

Paul A. Rahe:

When Pravda-on-the-Hudson and Ronan Farrow at The New Yorkerbroke the Harvey Weinstein story, they seem to have had Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in their sights, as I suggested in an earlier postPravda certainly sought a purgation. Its editors bluntly demanded that the two Democratic standard-bearers repudiate one of their most generous donors; and this, with evident reluctance, they did.

I doubt, however, very much whether anyone involved in breaking this story thought that theirs was the first salvo in what would turn into an exposé of the prattling class as a whole – including not only our entertainment elite but also our media and political elite. But this is what happened – and there is hardly a single left-liberal institution that has thus far emerged unscathed. A venerable Congressman has been driven from office. It looks as if a celebrity Senator will soon follow suit, and leading figures at NBC, CBS, NPR, and Pravda itself have been suspended or given the boot.

There is something especially delicious about this particular scandal. For everyone thus far fingered has long posed as a defender of women’s rights; and, though Pravda and Ronan Farrow carefully avoided any reference back to the conduct of William Jefferson Clinton, it was inevitable that the subject come up. After all, there was nothing that Weinstein is now accused of having done that his old pal had not been plausibly accused of having done on a similar scale decades ago.

It was left to Caitlin Flanagan to throw the cat among the pigeons. We should not, she wrote in The Atlantic,

forget the sex crimes of which the younger, stronger Bill Clinton was very credibly accused in the 1990s. Juanita Broaddrick reported that when she was a volunteer on one of his gubernatorial campaigns, she had arranged to meet him in a hotel coffee shop. At the last minute, he had changed the location to her room in the hotel, where she says he very violently raped her. She said that she fought against Clinton throughout a rape that left her bloodied. At a different Arkansas hotel, he caught sight of a minor state employee named Paula Jones, and, Jones said, he sent a couple of state troopers to invite her to his suite, where he exposed his penis to her and told her to kiss it. Kathleen Willey said that she met him in the Oval Office for personal and professional advice and that he groped her, rubbed his erect penis on her, and pushed her hand to his crotch.

It was a pattern of behavior; it included an alleged violent assault; the women involved had far more credible evidence than many of the most notorious accusations that have come to light in the past five weeks. But Clinton was not left to the swift and pitiless justice that today’s accused men have experienced. Rather, he was rescued by a surprising force: machine feminism. The movement had by then ossified into a partisan operation, and it was willing—eager—to let this friend of the sisterhood enjoy a little droit de seigneur.

Then, Flanagan did the unthinkable. She attacked feminism’s uncrowned queen, alluding to what she called “the notorious 1998 New York Times op-ed by Gloria Steinem” and suggesting that it “must surely stand as one of the most regretted public actions of her life.”

It slut-shamed, victim-blamed, and age-shamed; it urged compassion for and gratitude to the man the women accused. Moreover, . . . it characterized contemporary feminism as a weaponized auxiliary of the Democratic Party.

And Flanagan did not hesitate to draw the logical conclusion: “The widespread liberal response to the sex-crime accusations against Bill Clinton found their natural consequence 20 years later in the behavior of Harvey Weinstein: Stay loudly and publicly and extravagantly on the side of signal leftist causes and you can do what you want in the privacy of your offices and hotel rooms.”

It is high time, she argued, that the Democratic Party come to a “reckoning” with regard to the way it protected Bill Clinton: “The party needs to come to terms with the fact that it was so enraptured by their brilliant, Big Dog president and his stunning string of progressive accomplishments that it abandoned some of its central principles.”

In the aftermath, the left-liberal journalistic intelligentsia picked up the theme and acknowledged that Clinton had raped Juanita Broaddrick, and this caused Flanagan to re-enter the fray and push the envelope further. “I believe Juanita” doesn’t just mean that you’re generally in favor of believing women when they report sex crimes,” she wrote. “It means you believe that for eight years our country was in the hands of a violent rapist.” But that, she thought, was not the end of it.

Liberals seem almost giddy with relief, admitting what they believe—which is how it always feels when you finally decide that you’re going to say what you really think and to hell with the consequences. The truth does set you free, but it usually comes at a price, which is why it will probably take another 20 years to open The New York Times and read an editorial called “Hillary Knew.”

“How,” Flanagan asks, “could she not have known? She’s a hugely intelligent woman, a visionary, and a political street fighter.”

[S]he must have looked at the facts about Juanita Broaddrick and decided to put them in the same locked box where she kept the truth of Bill’s consensual affairs. As a wife, she had every right to do that. But as a Democratic candidate for president—one whose historic campaign was largely centered on the glass ceiling and the rise of women—she had a Grand Canyon–size vulnerability, as she learned a year before the general election when she blithely tweeted out this corker: “Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported.”

That’s our Hillary—and that’s the woman even some of her staunchest supporters have been gritting their teeth about for decades. . . . Hillary had put the many women who’d credibly accused her husband of sexual misconduct into the forgetting hole.”

I quote Caitlin Flanagan at inordinate length for a reason. What she says about Hillary Clinton can be applied to virtually every woman (and man) who has been at work in the last couple of decades within our imperial liberal elite – whether it be in Hollywood, in journalism, or on the Hill.

Meryl Streep, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and the other members of the sisterhood have turned their backs on Harvey Weinstein, Mark Halperin, Charlie Rose, John Conyers, Al Franken, Glenn Thrush, Matt Lauer, and the like. They say that they didn’t know or that, at most, they had heard a rumor or two. They are for the most part lying. Nearly all of them knew, as did Gloria Steinem and the liberals who defended Bill Clinton. The scale and the scope of these men’s misconduct were too large to have been anything other than an open secret.

Moreover, those who knew were all complicit. Meryl Streep is a case in point. She did not give a damn about the antics of Harvey Weinstein. She was a public defender of Roman Polanski, whose taste as a rapist ran to underage girls. He was, after all, an artiste – a man beyond good and evil.

If you doubt my claim that nearly everyone in our imperial elite was complicit, read Fox News’ report regarding the Friars Club dinner given in honor of Matt Lauer nine years ago. Everyone who was anyone in New York media circles was there, and the roast to which Lauer was subjected was a celebration of his . . . er . . . “accomplishments” with the women with whom he came into contact while doing his job as a journalist. I would quote snatches of what they said in their speeches were they not too graphic to pass the Ricochet Code of Conduct. In any case, you can read it for yourself, and you can read the account published in The Village Voice back in 2008 on which it was based.

When you next see any one of these people engaged in moral posturing, pinch yourself and remind yourself that they are all – especially, the politicians – in show business. They would not be where are if they could not persuasively take on a persona entirely foreign to what they really are and thoroughly fool you in the process. It is not an accident that in ancient Greek the word for an actor is hypocritēs. When you next see any of these figures, ask yourself, “Whose misconduct is she covering for now?”

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