How Is Bill Clinton Allowed to Keep Saying Things?

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If you were to hastily design an algorithm to mimic what a politically powerful 71-year-old man credibly accused of serial sexual assault might have to say about rape culture and the resignation of former Senator Al Franken, it would probably sound a lot like what Bill Clinton has come up with lately.


Already having said that he doesn’t think he owes Monica Lewinsky a personal apology, Clinton had dug in deeper with with a recent PBS Newshour interview, in which he sounds like a Westworld host whose programmed narrative is to really, really not get it.

During the interview on Thursday, reporter Judy Woodruff asked Clinton for his thoughts on the changing standards that drove Franken, who was accused by multiple women of unwanted groping, to step down. His response:

Well, in general, I think it’s a good thing, yes.

I think it’s a good thing that we should all have higher standards. I think the norms have really changed in terms of, what you can do to somebody against their will, how much you can crowd their space, make them miserable at work.

I think the norms have really changed in terms of, what you can do to somebody against their will, how much you can crowd their space. UH WHAT. To be clear, Franken is not accused of “crowding” people’s space, he is accused of forcibly touching and kissing women.

Clinton goes on:

You don’t have to physically assault somebody to make them, you know, uncomfortable at work or at home or in their other — just walking around. That, I think, is good.

I think that — I will be honest — the Franken case, for me, was a difficult case, a hard case. There may be things I don’t know. But I — maybe I’m just an old-fashioned person, but it seemed to me that there were 29 women on “Saturday Night Live” that put out a statement for him, and that the first and most fantastic story was called, I believe, into question.

Too late to wade into it now. I mean, I think it’s a grievous thing to take away from the people a decision they have made, especially when there is an election coming up again. But it’s done now.

And I think that all of us should just be focusing on how to do better and how to go forward.

Clinton claims that it is “too late to wade into it now” as he continues to absolutely wade into it by noting that as an “old-fashioned person” he sees Franken’s resignation as a “grievous thing,” in part because some women on Saturday Night Live signed a letter standing up for the senator. (Clinton’s excuse, in the grand tradition of old men unable to claim responsibility for their actions, is reminiscent of when Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer called him an “old dinosaur learning new ways.”)

So in sum, Clinton is happy about new norms limiting “what you can do to somebody against their will,” but not so happy when those norms extend into men’s actual lives. Is anyone surprised?

Clio Chang is a staff writer at Splinter.