Originally published by Salon on January 26, 1998.
Why does President Clinton still get a pass from America’s feminists? Because being a liberal is more important than being a sexual predator.
As American liberals review President Clinton’s latest “bimbo eruption,” one observation remains conspicuously absent from their assessments: the way in which this series of events signifies the end of feminism as we know it, and their spokeswomen exposed as hypocrites and phonies. The once shrill voice of feminist outrage is suddenly, deafeningly still.
What we hear instead from the chorus on the left is a litany that goes something like this: What President Clinton does in his sex life should not be the subject of public concern. Or, as “Politically Incorrect” host Bill Maher summed up the reaction: “Where’s the crime?” Clinton is running the important business of the ship of state. Who should care about his private acts? As though these latest incidents of alleged sexual predation did not take place in the Oval Office, in the seat of government, in the presidential workplace — and were not visited on a presidential employee.
What happened to the feminists’ concern about sexual harassment, especially when it takes place in the seat of federal power. For what place could be more symbolically important to an issue affecting every working woman in America? Have feminists forgotten their crusade against Clarence Thomas? Here was a man with 20 years of unblemished public service and no history (unlike Clinton) of sexual malfeasance, who was publicly burned in a feminist witch-hunt. And for what? Certainly not for allegations that he dropped his pants and told an Arkansas state employee to “kiss it.” Nor for allegedly seducing a 21-year-old summer intern and then encouraging her to lie to cover up the crime. Yet Thomas was subjected to public humiliation and came within an inch of losing a Supreme Court seat for the heinous sins of 1) allegedly mentioning a porn star named Long Dong Silver; 2) allegedly making a joke about a pubic hair on an office Coke can; and 3) allegedly giving verbal signals that vaguely made an experienced civil rights attorney in his employ — not a wet-behind-the-ears intern — feel uncomfortable.
So abominable were these still unproven allegations that righteous feminists, and their male amen corner on the left, still froth at the mere utterance of Thomas’ name. In Clinton’s case, however, we have more than one allegedly wronged woman.