Bill Clinton, an accused predator, is one of the last people you’d ever expect to have meaningful thoughts about the #MeToo era. But in an interview with NBC’s Craig Melvin that aired Monday morning, Clinton proved to exceed even the lowest of possible expectations.
Melvin asked Clinton about his handling of the Monica Lewinsky scandal and whether “looking back on what happened through the lens of #MeToo now” made him “think differently or feel more responsibility.” Lewinsky, for her part, has been extremely thoughtful and and precise about the legacy of the scandal since the Time’s Up movement gained traction, writing in Vanity Fair earlier this year about the changing nature of gossip, politics, and the press.
But in response to Melvin’s straightforward question, Clinton got very defensive and decided to list all of the, um, good things he’s done for women:
I had a sexual harassment policy when I was governor in the ‘80s. I had two women chiefs of staff when I was governor. Women were overrepresented in the attorney general’s office in the seventies. ... I’ve had nothing but women leaders in my office since I’ve left.
When speaking about the #MeToo movement generally, Clinton said, “I like the #MeToo movement, it’s way overdue. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything, I still have some questions about some of the decisions which have been made.” Okay, sure!!
But the most egregious bit was when Melvin pushed Clinton to say whether he had ever apologized personally to Lewinsky:
Melvin: I asked if you’d ever apologized, and you said you have?
Clinton: I have.
Melvin: You apologized to her?
Clinton: I apologized to everybody in the world.
Melvin: But you didn’t apologize to her.
Clinton: I have not talked to her
Melvin: Do you feel like you owe her an apology?
Clinton: No. I have never talked to her. But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.
An apology intended to save your career and public reputation is, indeed, very different from an actual apology.
Clinton then veered off to attack Melvin for doing his job, saying that “someone should ask you these questions because of the way you formulate the questions.”
“I dealt with it 20 years ago plus and the American people, two-thirds of them, stayed with me,” he said. “And I’ve tried to do a good job since then with my life and with my work. That’s all I have to say.”
Please, Clinton, say no more, maybe forever.