The charge the Times is floating: How bad was last night's GOP debate? How bad was the work by the moderators? How bad were the various pols?
We haven't watched the whole thing yet. We haven't reviewed the whole transcript. But alas! In the first review we encountered this morning—Jack Mirkinson's piece at the new Salon—we were soon reading this account of one of last evening's questions:
MIRKINSON (1/15/16): The leading question theme continued throughout the night, giving the debate an edge that was hard-right even for Fox. Bartiromo asked John Kasich what it “said” about the Democratic Party that a man like Bernie Sanders was popular. Cavuto asked Chris Christie to affirm the widely-debunked notion of a “Ferguson effect” on policing. Bartiromo asked Ben Carson if Hillary Clinton should be blamed for Bill Clinton’s womanizing—a question seemingly ripped straight from Rush Limbaugh’s dreams.Did Bartiromo really ask that question? We decided to take a look at the transcript, and we got a quick answer:
Essentially, no. That pretty much isn't what she asked.
Unfortunately, it may be worth parsing this out. We find that many liberals may not understand the road Candidate Trump, and the New York Times, may eventually take.
Here's the text of the actual question Bartiromo asked. Carson quickly changed the subject as he gave his answer:
BARTIROMO (1/14/16): Dr. Carson, one of the other candidates on this stage has brought up Bill Clinton's past indiscretions. Is that a legitimate topic in this election? And what do you think of the notion that Hillary Clinton is an enabler of sexual misconduct?That's what Bartiromo said. We're not sure if she understands the accusation which may start making the rounds at some point—the accusation which was floated by the New York Times in last Friday's editorial.
We don't know if Bartiromo understands what's being whispered, suggested and said. Let's make sure that we do understand.
In last Friday's editorial, the Times was bruiting a slightly different accusation than the one Bartiromo and/or Mirkinson articulated.
The Times didn't accuse Hillary Clinton of "enabling sexual misconduct" in some vague, formless way. Through slippery logic and a slick selection of facts, the editors offered a fairly explicit insinuation:
Without offering any real examples, they suggested that Hillary Clinton has "for decades" been involved in ugly, false "attacks on the character" of Bill Clinton's accusers.
Note the slippery logic here. Did we mention that this is the Times?
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (1/8/16): For decades Mrs. Clinton has helped protect her husband’s political career, and hers, from the taint of his sexual misbehavior, as evidenced by the Clinton team’s attacks on the character of women linked to Mr. Clinton. When Mr. Clinton ran for president in 1992, Mrs. Clinton appeared on television beside him to assert that allegations involving Gennifer Flowers were false. In 1998, he admitted to that affair under oath. After the Monica Lewinsky affair emerged, some White House aides attempted to portray Ms. Lewinsky as the seducer.The logic of that editorial is weirdly hard to follow. But here's the suggestion the Times was floating—and yes, it started with Candidate Trump:
Mrs. Clinton portrays her candidacy as a historic opportunity for Americans to elect a female president, and has repeatedly gone after Republican candidates, including Mr. Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio, for their stances on women’s issues. In September at the University of Northern Iowa, she pledged to combat sexual assault on college campuses, saying: “I want to send a message to all of the survivors. Don’t let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard, the right to be believed, and we are with you as you go forward.”
Last month in New Hampshire, a young woman challenged Mrs. Clinton on that. Speaking at a town hall event, the woman referred to several women who have said they were sexually harassed by her husband. “You recently came out to say that all rape victims should be believed,” she said, asking if Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones should also be believed.
Mrs. Clinton’s response was odd, and unhelpful. “I would say that everybody should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence,” she said.
Mr. Trump, of course, is not drawing distinctions between Bill Clinton’s behavior and Hillary Clinton’s attacks on her husband’s accusers. His aim is to dredge up an ancient scandal and tar Mrs. Clinton with it in a clearly sexist fashion. There should be no place for that kind of politics in this country.
"For decades," Hillary Clinton has been involved in false "attacks on the character of women linked to Mr. Clinton." That's what the editors clearly suggested, albeit in the murkiest possible fashion.
Has Hillary Clinton been doing that? The one example the Times seemed to offer involved Gennifer Flowers, whose appalling history, and lack of credibility, we reviewed in yesterday's post.
In typically garbled fashion, the Times implied that Bill Clinton falsely denied Flowers' claims, and that Hillary Clinton knew his denial was false. The Times toyed with the facts in its presentation, but history says that the New York Times will be eager to do so again.
"For decades," Hillary Clinton has been involved in false "attacks on her husband's accusers!" Almost surely, that sort of claim will start to circulate at some point, especially if Trump is the Republican nominee.
Mirkinson perhaps included, many liberals seem a bit fuzzy on the nature of this accusation. Liberals and Dems need to be more clear on what is likely to come.
Gennifer Flowers was a clown, an utter public disgrace. The life forms who work at the New York Times will never let you know that.
That said, Kathleen Willey's ridiculous history may be even worse. Inevitably, Chris Matthews was up to his ears in the part of the story where a false accusation by Willey herself almost got a journalist killed. (The story gets worse after that.)
We'll review that history some day next week. For now, the resuscitation of this ugly, disgraceful mess is just a bit depressing.
Bartiromo didn't quite manage to articulate the claim the Times was floating last week. In turn, Mirkinson didn't quite articulate the question Bartiromo asked.
In this way, Clinton supporters will arrange to stay clueless about what is almost sure to come. For decades, we liberals have been at our happiest when we're barefoot and clueless.
Back in 2004, the Swift-boating of Candidate Kerry took our team by surprise. At present, we seem to be getting ourselves prepared to get blind-sided again.