I’m not going to take sides in this post. I’m going to lay out the facts after having watched the full interview of former President Bill Clinton and let the readers decide. First, let’s lay down some ground rules. 1)Don’t comment if you haven’t watched the actual interview. If you’re commenting because you’ve read someone else’s opinion of what Clinton said, don’t bother making a comment. 2)Bill Clinton is an articulate, thoughtful man. He’s a lawyer who knows the law even if he may have broken a few of them along the way. 3)The #MeToo is a legitimate and necessary reckoning with the sexual harassment of women in the workplace and society as a whole. Like any other movement, there can be excesses and extremes which should be avoided.
Having said that, is it fair or more importantly, justified to overlay a past culture with the current cultural norms? In other words, is it legitimate to judge a historical figure by current standards? That is a question which can be debated. However, to write that Clinton is tone deaf for his responses to the two decades old Lewinsky scandal is not fair. To say that 50’s culture should be held to contemporary standards is not really a question of fairness but appropriateness. Stating facts is not taking sides for or against the #MeToo Movement. If you’re old enough to recall how business was conducted in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s is not to discount that it shouldn’t have happened. One need only watch a few episodes of Mad Men to witness the rampant drinking, womanizing, and blatant sexual harassment. Those are facts which can’t be disputed. The moral quality of the behavior is an entirely different matter.
One of the sad realities of our contemporary culture is that everything is a zero sum game. Trump is either a no good womanizer who is clueless or he’s the greatest president since Lincoln. As with most of us, I suspect the truth is somewhere between these two extremes. We’ve lost a sense of nuance. We want the quick fix, the easy solution, and our world to be black and white. The truth is there are no quick fixes, no facile solutions, and the world is multi-colored.