Bill Clinton’s staggering hypocrisy

 

COMMENT

The cheek of Bill Clinton truly is something to behold.

The former US president addressed the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, and his appearance was maddeningly hypocritical on a couple of levels.

First, the political party that has spent years quite rightfully condemning President Donald Trump for his misconduct towards women continues to treat Mr Clinton, whose own record is comparably distasteful, as some sort of dignified elder statesman.

A few hours before Mr Clinton spoke, new photos emerged of him receiving a neck massage from one of sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein's victims. No one in the Democratic Party seemed especially bothered by this.

Nor does the party seem to care about the fact that Mr Clinton's repeated claims he never visited Epstein's private island - known colloquially as "paedophile island" - have been directly contradicted by another of the victims, Virginia Guiffre.

None of the young women Epstein preyed on have ever accused Mr Clinton of misconduct, but you can guarantee the Democrats would be tearing into Mr Trump if he were facing the same set of facts.

Then there was the content of Mr Clinton's speech.

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He spent most of it dismantling the Trump administration's shambolic response to the coronavirus pandemic. Many of his criticisms were entirely valid, and would have been fair coming from anyone else.

Coming from Bill Clinton? Not so much.

"At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command centre. Instead it's a storm centre. There's only chaos," Mr Clinton said.

Forget the whole "at a time like this" thing. Personally, I don't want the office of the most powerful person on the planet to be "only chaos" at any point in time.

And chaos in the Oval Office is a thing Mr Clinton knows quite a lot about, given how much of it he created when he decided to have an affair with a 22-year-old White House intern.

"One thing never changes - his determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame. The buck never stops there," Mr Clinton continued.

A lecture on denying responsibility from the guy whose most famous quote is the blatant lie: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

"You know what Donald Trump will do with four more years? Blame, bully and belittle," said the former president, whose own political machine has a long record of ruthlessly discrediting his female accusers.

Will Mr Clinton's hypocrisy have the slightest impact on this year's election? No. Unlike four years ago, his surname isn't on the ballot. It should be called out anyway.

That said, the hypocrisy of Mr Trump's apologists is equally galling.

I can't even begin to imagine the mental gymnastics required for someone to favour Mr Clinton's impeachment and removal on moral grounds a couple of decades ago, only to turn around and defend everything the current President has said and done. And yet, plenty of Republicans fall comfortably into this category.

Of the examples below, my favourite is Scott Walker, the former Republican governor of Wisconsin. Like so many of his party's leading figures, Mr Walker was once a firm critic of Mr Trump, before he seemingly transformed into a sycophant overnight.

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OK, I've done my venting.

The convention's second day was otherwise relatively uneventful - most of the high profile speakers, including Kamala Harris and Barack Obama, have been saved for tomorrow - but there was one indisputable highlight.

I'm talking about Joe Biden's wife, Dr Jill Biden, whose speech put to shame most of the politicians who do such things for a living.

Dr Biden spoke from Brandywine High School, where she once taught English. More importantly, she sounded like a normal human being - and actually managed to make her husband, who has been in national politics since the early 1970s, sound like one too.

She accomplished this titanic feat by opening up about something deeply personal and painful to her - the death of the Bidens' son Beau in 2015.

"After our son Beau died of cancer, I wondered if I would ever smile or feel joy again. It was summer, but there was no warmth left for me," Dr Biden said.

"Four days after Beau's funeral, I watched Joe shave and put on his suit. I saw him steel himself in the mirror, take a breath, put his shoulders back, and walk out into a world empty of our son.

"He went back to work. That's just who he is. There are times when I couldn't even imagine how he did it, how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going.

"But I've always understood why he did it."

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She proceeded to reel off some examples of Americans less fortunate than her own family.

"For all those people Joe gives his personal number to at rope lines and events. The ones he talks to for hours after dinner, helping them smile through their loss, letting them know they aren't alone," Dr Biden said.

"He does it for you. Joe's purpose has always driven him forward. His strength of will is unstoppable.

"His faith is unshakeable. Because it's not in politicians, or political parties, or even in himself. It's in the providence of god. His faith is in you, in us.

"Yes, so many classrooms are quiet right now. The playgrounds are still. But if you listen closely, you can hear the sparks of change in the air across this country.

"We haven't given up. We just need leadership worthy of our nation. Worthy of you."

Juxtaposed with self-absorbed presidents like Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, the man she described sounded pretty good.

Originally published as Bill Clinton's staggering hypocrisy


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