The discussion about the sexual improprieties of public figures devolves so quickly that I’ve tried to avoid what-aboutism in any forum more formal than social media. It’s as if people take any statement as a “Go!” to start the tug-of-war.
Let’s just say that powerful people are apt to abuse their positions. Moreover, the problem appears to be generally worse in politics and the media, which may lead people in those industries to use their bigger cultural megaphones create the impression that our entire civilization carries the sickness.
The cultural questions are more interesting than the political food fight, and it is on that count that an curious choice of words from CNN’s Jake Tapper is worth note (emphasis added):
Back to Tapper, he continued by stating that “the accusers of Bill Clinton back in the ’90s were never given the credence and treated with the same respect that these women are being treated and I think that there is something to be said about how society has evolved since then.”
He concluded how, despite that reality, “it’s hard not to look back at that period and think” that “[t]he media treated those women poorly.”
Is that it? Have we “evolved”? If so, it sure happened quickly… more like a random mutation. Even well after last year’s election, talk of Bill Clinton’s improprieties and lending credibility to his accusers was brushed aside in mainstream circles.
No, society hasn’t evolved since last month, or even last year. The Left and the Democrat Party that it dominates have simply concluded that the Clintons are no longer necessary allies. Everything is contingent to the political interests of progressives. Period. Right now, it just serves progressives to make sexual improprieties into witch-hunt fodder, and that means acknowledging proven witches like Slick Willie.
On the other side of the ideological aisle, we’ll have to beware of the whiplash. Conservatives were genuinely scandalized by the behavior of Clinton, and as I recall, they forced out two Congressional House speakers because they lacked the moral standing to articulate that sense of scandal. The reason sex scandals have harmed conservatives more dramatically than progressives is that the people on their side actually objected to their behavior. It may be for a different reason (on which I’ll have more to say, perhaps in a podcast), but progressives are now coming around to genuinely objecting, too.
Progressives let no crisis go to waste, however, and so as they roll the culture on this issue — like the scene of the cruise ship capsizing in the Poseidon Adventure — they’re trying to ensure that the pianos fall on all the right people. What we’ll find when the episode is over is that we’re actually in a much more conservative place, so it’ll be important for conservatives to have kept their moral standing at the end of it all.
The real challenge of that maneuver is that one’s standing can be lost both by defending the indefensible and by joining the mad panic of condemnations.