As I've written often, today's Republican Party has a tactic that they use regularly -- find your own weakness and level the same charge against Democrats. This hopefully will get attention off Republicans and even more hopefully will confuse the public into thinking that Democrats are the real ones with the problem.
In that regard, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has taken Page One from the GOP playbook. In an effort to deflect criticism that Republicans have draconian policies against women and are waging a "War on Women" -- and in a hope, no doubt, to get Hilary Clinton to talk about such things and be weakened by it -- he has taken on...Bill Clinton.
"They can't have it both ways," Paul said on C-SPAN in an interview that ran on Sunday, suggesting that Democrats are hypocrites. "And so I really think that anybody who wants to take money from Bill Clinton or have a fundraiser has a lot of explaining to do. In fact, I think they should give the money back."
"If they want to take position on women's rights, by all means do," he added. But you can't do it and take it from a guy who was using his position of authority to take advantage of young women in the workplace"
Indeed, Mr. Paul keeps going deeper and harsher with this. On Thursday, for instance, in an interview with Newsmax, he criticized Bill Clinton as a sexual predator. “Yeah, I mean, a predator, a sexual predator, basically. “Repetitive." And in January on on Meet the Press, he said, "There is no excuse for that and that is predatory behavior
He also told Newsmax that the former president was a "serial philander."
(This latter charge might actually make Republicans quiver. After all, if Rand Paul wants to rid Washington of 'serial philanders," I suspect that much of Congress, including his own party, will find the chairs emptied. As well as many pews and households across the country. I don't defend this, I merely point out an observation of reality.)
When asked by the host what any of this has to do with Hilary Clinton if she runs for president, he answered, "I'm not so sure. Like I said, it's hard to separate them."
Swell. Just freaking swell. The husband is a "serial philanderer" and let's make the victim the perpetrator. It's oh so Republican... Just asked Trayvon Martin.
I heard a discussion of this on Chris Matthews show, Hardball, on MSNBC. And I think everyone there got it wrong when suggesting how Hilary Clinton or Bill Clinton or any Democrat should respond.
I don't think they should say anything.
People understand Bill Clinton perfectly well. It's old news, been there - done that. He was actually impeached, for goodness sake! And the thing is, the longer his impeachment went on, the higher his approval ratings went. In fact, they reached an astronomical 73 percent!! So, if the Republicans AGAIN want to "try" Bill Clinton, Democrats should let them. Here's the floor, Mr. Speaker, I yield to my Far Right opponent. By the time they're finished filibustering, Bill Clinton might be canonized. And Hilary Clinton could be in line to be the first woman Pope.
But if Democrats do feel the need to say something, and I understand that if they do because there's SO much to respond and it's galling to chomp on the bit and say nothing, there are two simple, short ways to go about it. And both slam back and refuse to debate the issue, because debating only drags you down into the same GOP mud hole.
The first simple response is --
"We know what Rand Paul and other conservatives think of Bill Clinton, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the policies and actual laws that the Republican Party has been passing against women as the core foundation of their party's belief, including forced transvaginal probes. blocking contraception and stopping abortions. That's the Republican War on Women that's at issue and concerns women. Not how Bill Clinton lived his personal life 15 years ago."
And if someone wants to go in a different direction, the second response is --
"The fact that Rand Paul thinks having extramarital affairs is predatory sexual behavior and that that is what concerns women shows how utterly out-of-touch he and the Republican Party are on the issue of women, and only serves to confirm the War on Women that they have been painted with."
That's what Democrats -- or anyone of sense -- should say.
But of course, Hilary Clinton is another matter. It's likely that Ms. Clinton will be asked about Rand Paul's comments, which is a large part of his intent. Needless-to-say, she shouldn't get dragged into discussing his slimy charges either, and her response is far easier. Mind you, she could say the above. But it's probably far better to answer more bluntly --
"How dare Rand Paul. This is my husband, and it was a hellish time we had dealing with it and in public. But we did, and the country did, and we all went through it, and that's 15 years in the past. If Rand Paul thinks he can't separate my husband's actions and my life, he shows himself living in a far more distant, paternalistic past when the Little Woman had no world of her own but walked in the shadow of Her Man. And to smarmily try to tar me with whatever he dislikes about my husband is something I'm sure most women recoil at. I believe I have shown myself to have my own accomplishments and am more than happy to talk about them and to debate Rand Paul about my own life face to face, most especially compared to his political accomplishments, whatever they may be, any time he wants. If instead he wants to take on the former president of the United States, that's up to him, and I would be happy to give him his phone number. But I am my own woman, and I believe most women, and most Americans understand that. As for my husband, whatever we went through 15 years ago, it's past. Over. Done. We have grown, we have moved on, and I believe we are far better for it -- and have helped make the world better for it. And I love him dearly."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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