I have been fascinated by Harvey Weinstein’s initial response to charges that the Bathrobed Romeo sexually molested women. His statement was at once otherworldly and yet weirdly similar to Hillary Clinton’s eventual response to the scandal. I say “eventual response” because it took her over a week to comment. Obviously, Hillary’s lawyers and public relations magicians had to word her response very carefully.
In his statement Harvey said, “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s when all the rules about behavior and the work places were different.” In this I am at one with Harvey. I too came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, though no woman has yet stepped forward to say I sexually molested her, much less raped her. He then went on with some brave talk about his intent to “conquer” his “demons.”
Ascending to the higher tiers of psychobabble, he said he needed “a place to channel” his “anger.” Where might that place be? Scurrying back to his Hollywood cocoon, he promised — get this — to give “the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre [head of the National Rifle Association] will enjoy his retirement party.” He went on to threaten early retirement on President Donald Trump too. What planet does a Hollywood mogul like Harvey inhabit? By the end of the week he was out of a job and his company was rumored to be up for sale.
Eight days after Harvey’s statement Hillary, a beneficiary of his friendship and largesse through her foundation and political campaigns, felt it was safe enough to denounce the fallen genius. In a BBC interview she said of Harvey’s behavior, “This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated anywhere, whether it’s in entertainment, politics [sic].” Then she impudently added, “After all, we have someone admitting to being a sexual assaulter in the Oval Office.” Like Harvey she had changed the subject as quickly as possible to Donald Trump, but her statement was a lie. Donald never admitted to sexual assault only to “locker room talk,” and when her BBC interviewer mentioned charges against her husband in the 1990s she lied again, saying: “That has all been litigated.” It has not, and Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and other aggrieved woman still wait their day in court. The BBC should employ interviewers more familiar with American politics.
I would be happy to volunteer my services in this noble task. After all, I presided over the first great sex scandal in American presidential history, which began with The American Spectator’s Troopergate pieces and ended with Bill Clinton’s impeachment. I can report that there are some surprising similarities in Harvey’s and Bill’s scandals, though the journalists reporting on Harvey have been treated much more respectfully than those reporting on Bill. It took the reporters who exposed Harvey about 24 hours to gain respect. I am not clear that those exposing Bill will ever gain respect.
To begin with, both scandals involved Democrats, often the same Democrats. Bill and Hillary in the White House and on the campaign trail have been supported by their allies in Hollywood and in the media — one being Harvey. He is a major figure in Democratic politics, and he and his Hollywood friends — or ex-friends — are the party’s generous source of money and of star power. In some instances they even run for office.
Moreover, both scandals were hushed up by what the New York Times today calls “a protection racket,” which was called by the Times in the ’90s “Clinton’s rapid-response squad.” Today’s protection racket is, the Times tells us, a “network of aggressive public relations flacks and lawyers who guard the secrets of those who employ them and keep their misdeeds out of public view.” After Harvey’s downfall we shall see if the protection racket can continue to be as useful to others as it has been to Harvey. My guess is that in time it will.
As to the Clintons’ “legendary ‘rapid response’ team,” — for that is how the Times admiringly described it in 1998 — it is now getting rather long in the tooth. In rendering Gennifer Flowers, Paula Corbin Jones, Broaddrick, Willey, and the other victims of Bill in years past it was highly effective. There was James Carville slurring the ladies for their lower-class origins, and Paul Begala, and Sidney Blumenthal. There are names from the past such as Mandy Grunwald, Dee Dee Myers, and the indispensable Betsey Wright of bimbo eruption fame. Finally, there are some stars of the rapid response team that have not lost their luster such as George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. There are the lawyers such as David Kendall and the other flacks.
Most of the Clinton team is over the hill. Hillary’s fate in the recent election proved it. She lost to a political neophyte despite all the charges her team hurled at him. We are living through the pathetic last chapter of Hillary and, as she was quoted in the Times recently, “my friend Harvey.”