- - Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Republicans and other conservatives who are tempted to indulge excessive Schadenfreude over the woes of Charlie Rose, Al Franken and their sordid fellows, taking delight in their pain and humiliation, should remember Iron Law of Politics No. 3, that nothing recedes like success. Giving too many hoots and hollers at turkeys over this holiday season is great fun, but the universal truth about worms is that they eventually turn.

To keep Bill Clinton alive and ticking in the White House, the women’s movement made an unsavory pact, if not with the devil with some of his helpers, selling its soul expecting that closing ranks around him would eventually enable Hillary to follow him into the White House in her own right. It didn’t work out that way, and that’s part of the shame and rage we have now.

Nobody thinks there’s justification for what Al and the boys did; their acts speak for themselves, and it gets worse. On Monday it emerged that Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, in line to be chairman of the Judiciary Committee if the Democrats regain control of the House next year, was party to a secret settlement of congressional workplace harassment claims. Nearly everybody on Capitol Hill thinks there’s more, and maybe lots more, to come.

The rules of conduct will eventually be rewritten once a lot of deadwood in the culture is discarded. Tossing aside Al Franken, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose and John Conyers is not likely to cause the Democrats much long-term damage. They can be easily replaced. They’ve outlived their usefulness and they’ll be sacrificed on a convenient altar where respect and tolerance are preached.

It’s interesting and instructive to watch how Bill Clinton is being put on the shelf, soon to drop down the national memory hole. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who no doubt shares a dream of the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, has been loud and long preaching that Mr. Clinton should have been impeached over his misconduct in the workplace with Monica Lewinsky.

For a Democrat to say such things even a year ago would have invited the anger of her party colleagues. Now it’s the opening ante in a bid for consideration for the highest office. The Republicans and conservatives taking understandable delight in the Clintons getting their just deserts should remember that Bubba has been out of office for nearly two decades, and is of no further use to the party he pulled back from oblivion back in 1992.

He is far out of step with the party’s left wing, which dreams of taking charge under the banner of Joseph R. Biden or Bernard Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or Kirsten Gillibrand or someone like them. They will be delighted to denounce Bill and Hillary with all the fervor that the famous “vast right-wing media conspiracy” once spent on the Clintons. Once that fervor subsides all eyes of politicians and pundits will return to old Republican sins and, if need be, manufacture some new ones.

The rules of conduct in Washington are fluid. They depend on who’s breaking them. When the liberals, or “progressives,” as liberals want to be called after having stunk up the ancient and honorable word “liberal,” have claimed the few scalps needed to regain the moral high ground on the issue they ceded in defense of Bill Clinton a generation ago, it will be back to business as usual.

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