- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2000

The closest that President Clinton has ever come to answering allegations that he raped an Arkansas woman in 1978 is a distance measurable only in light-years. After Juanita Broaddrick made the accusation in 1999, the president's attorney, David Kendall, alone answered, saying any such charges were "absolutely false." Of course, attorney Robert Bennett believed Mr. Clinton when he said he hadn't had sex with Monica Lewinsky and defended the president then on no less sturdy grounds. Thus while lawyers can spare Mr. Clinton awkward moments at the podium in which he has to say, "I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky" or "I did not fondle that woman, Kathleen Willey" or "I did not rape that woman, Mrs. Broaddrick," their comments are, in effect, non-denial denials.

Given the silence from the West Wing, Mrs. Broaddrick this week sought answers from Hillary Clinton, whose telescopic feminism apparently sees injustice to women everywhere except the kind which occurs closer to home. In a letter to Mrs. Clinton recalling their meeting shortly after the reported assault occurred, she wondered about the significance of Mrs. Clinton's words to her at that time. Thank you, Mrs. Broaddrick says Mrs. Clinton told her, for "everything you do for Bill."

"What did you mean, Hillary?" her letter continued. "Were you referring to my keeping quiet about the assault I had suffered at the hands of your husband only two weeks before? Were you warning me to keep quiet?"

The not-so-subtle implication of the letter is that Mrs. Clinton is, in fact, her husband's enabler. Dealing with her husband's promiscuity and worse might keep her from dealing with the important issues facing the people of New York, namely her candidacy. One might call it a Faustian bargain except that even Mephistopheles might not lower himself to sign such a deal.

While there is little in the way of an official response to Mrs. Broaddrick from Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, their surrogates have doubtless been quietly at work trying to undermine her credibility. It's fair to point out that Mrs. Broaddrick initially denied that then-Gov. Clinton raped her, as she now charges, except that such a defense would never be acceptable were the accused someone else. If a woman only belatedly claims to be a victim of rape or sexual harassment, the argument ordinarily goes, it's because she was at the mercy of a man she could see only through the glass ceiling. Recall that when defenders of Clarence Thomas noted Anita Hill's decision to follow Mr. Thomas from job to job were hardly the actions of a woman suffering from sexual harassment, as she later claimed, feminists responded that the poor, powerless woman had no choice but to follow him given limited employment opportunities.

Mrs. Broaddrick's charges, while graver, might be equally suspect on that basis, except that neither Clinton is in the strongest position to call her a liar. So far neither has.

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