- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Holy cow. Just when you thought the whole sexual assault hullabaloo couldn’t get any larger — here comes a former president.

The wheelchair-bound George H.W. Bush, 93, was accused by actress Heather Lind, 34, who starred in the television series “Turn: Washington’s Spies,” of sexual assault.

And Bush, rather shockingly, not only apologized for the incident — but also said he was only trying to joke around.

OK, Bush, stop talking.

Here’s a memo, no matter your age: When someone accuses you of sexual harassment or assault, you ought not respond by saying, “Oops, just joking.” Typically, that doesn’t go over well with the anti-sexual harassment crowd.

File that under What Not To Say.

Here’s a bit of Lind’s account of the situation, posted on her Instagram site: “When I got the chance to meet George H.W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo. He didn’t shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke.”

Sigh.

Bush responded this way, the Daily Mail noted: “President Bush would never, under any circumstances, intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind.”

The incident reportedly occurred four years ago. And according to Lind: It happened more than once.

“And then,” she wrote, “all the while being photographed, [he] touched me again. Barbara rolled her eyes as if to say, ‘not again.’ His security guard told me I shouldn’t have stood next to him for the photo.”

Lind suggested she was not Bush’s first — and said she told several of her fellow “Turning” colleagues what had transpired.

“Judging from the comments of those around him,” she wrote, “countless other women before me [suffered similarly].”

Of course, there is this, as questioned by some of Lind’s social media commenters: How come now?

“Why didn’t you say this four years ago instead of now,” one wrote.

Political motivation — and self-interest — could very well be part and parcel of Lind’s decision to speak up now, rather than then. So, too, could fear — the fear of not being believed.

For instance, Lind wrote this as well: “What comforts me is that I too can use my power, which isn’t so different from a president really. I can enact positive change. I can actually help people. I can be a symbol of my democracy. I can refuse to call him president, and call out other abuses of power when I see them. I can vote for a president, in part, by the nature of his or her character, knowing that his or her political decisions must necessarily stem from that character.”

Either way, Bush did apologize. And typically, innocent people don’t apologize for what they don’t do.


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