Reason Roundup

Bill Clinton Gets Defensive, Pivots to Trump Transgressions When Asked About #MeToo Movement and Monica Lewinsky: Reason Roundup

Plus: victory for unlicensed hair braiders in Missouri and highlights from this weekend's sex worker rights rallies


screenshot/NBC News

Clinton says Lewinsky affair would not "be an issue" today. Talk about "alternative facts" (to pull a phrase out of the Trump-spox dustbin): Bill Clinton claimed today that his sexual relationship with then-intern Monica Lewinsky would not be viewed differently now than it was in the 1990s.

In fact, the former president suggested, #MeToo-era feminists are only lumping him in with power-abusing Harvey Weinstein types out of displaced anger at Donald Trump.

"I don't think [the Lewinsky affair] would be an issue because people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts," Clinton told NBC's Craig Melvin this morning. "If the facts were the same today, I wouldn't [resign]." He continued:

A lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work, I think partly because they are frustrated that they got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office, and his voters don't seem to care. I think I did the right thing. I defended the Constitution.

Clinton also complained that he lost a lot of money over his affair with Lewinsky; that Melvin was only giving "one side" by pointing to his relationship with Lewinsky while failing to bring up all the good Clinton has allegedly done for womankind; and that the sexual harassment and assault allegations against President Trump have not received enough media coverage. Melvin then pressed Clinton on whether "looking back on what happened then, through the lens of Me Too now," he now felt more responsibility.

Clinton: No, I felt terrible then, and I came to grips with it.

Melvin: Did you ever apologize to her?

Clinton: Yes. And nobody believes that I got out of that for free. I left the White House $16 million in debt. But you, typically, have ignored gaping facts in describing this and I bet you don't even know them. This was litigated 20 years ago. Two-thirds of the American people sided with me. They were not insensitive to that.

James Patterson, who co-authored a new novel with Clinton, jumped in to add: "It was 20 years ago. Come on."

Of course, many of the allegations against Weinstein, against other Hollywood and media men, and against Trump are descriptions of incidents that happened one, two, or even more decades ago. The whole point of Melvin's questioning Clinton about Lewinsky now was that sometimes social and personal perceptions can shift in 20 years.

Society's perception certainly has in this case. A better man than Clinton might at least acknowledge that, and even use it to his argumentative advantage. Instead, when asked for a modicum of self-awareness, our ex-president immediately gets defensive, lashes out in all directions, plays the Whataboutism card, and diminishes the idea that anyone could care about any of this.

In trying to distance himself from Trump and other #MeToo targets, Clinton reminds us that he wrote the playbook they're reading from now.


Occupational licensing win for Missouri hair braiders:


"International Whore's Day" highlights. Here are a few photos and missives from an international roster of rallies for sex worker rights that went down last Saturday. The demonstrations commemorated International Whore's Day, protested new federal legislation criminalizing sex ads, and called for the decriminalization of prostitution.