Popcorn Politics

Debate aside — can we talk about Trump’s paid collection of Bill Clinton sexual assault accusers for a minute? Okay, great.


That’s the short version. Now for the long(er) version.

Unless you live under a rock, you know the second U.S. presidential debate aired last night. As Bob Schieffer vexedly railed, that debate (and the hours leading up to it) were like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Donald Trump managed to turn the whole thing into a reality show full of scandal, drama, aggressive maneuvering and — sexual assault aside — one completely devoid of issues that matter to the American people. Of course important issues were touched on, but like a cornered rat Donald Trump spent most of his time launching personal attacks against Hillary, and with a heavy conscience she spent much of her time defending herself.

Unsurprisingly, Clinton was the only one giving substantive answers. But her answers — aside from one flailing Lincoln hail mary — weren’t what loomed large in the memories of American viewers.

As usual it was Donald Trump, shrouded in his trademark aura of negativity, who left by far the greatest stain on our memories.

Throughout the debate he: Paced the stage. Stalked Clinton. Sniffed through his answers like he was holding in a cocaine reaction. Complained that the moderators were treating him unfairly. Failed to answer any question clearly or directly. Falsely denied statements everyone knows he made. Refused to acknowledge his “locker room talk” as boasting sexual assault. Admitted that as a businessman he lost almost one billion dollars and benefitted from it. Insulted our country’s integrity. Boasted about endorsements to assert authority. And in desperation, he moved to antagonize Hillary by parading Bill Clinton’s sexual assault accusers, both before and during the debate.

I want to talk about Bill Clinton’s accusers.

I know everyone’s talked about them plenty — and that Bill Clinton’s vices have nothing to do with Hillary’s qualifications to be president — but there’s one glaring hypocrisy in their support of Trump and their presence at the debate that no one seems to have touched on. At least, if someone has I haven’t heard it. So first, in case you know nothing about these women (I largely didn’t until yesterday), let’s take a look.

Juanita Broaddrick. In 1999 she alleged that President Bill Clinton raped her in April of 1978. In 1978 he was the Attorney General for Arkansas and she was a 35 year-old nurse at a nursing home in Little Rock, where they met during a campaign stop. Clinton reportedly encouraged Broaddrick to call his campaign office and set up a meeting; they then met for coffee at a hotel. Broaddrick says Clinton suggested they meet in her room, because there were too many reporters in the hotel lobby. And that is where Broaddrick says Clinton, after a few minutes of small talk, then began forcibly kissing her, pulled her onto the bed and raped her. You can read the full account here.

Paula Jones. She claims Bill Clinton made sexual advances toward her during his tenure as governor of Arkansas. She filed a sexual harrassment suit against Clinton. Initially the suit was dismissed, but she appealed and Clinton eventually settled with her for $850,000.00 and no admission of wrongdoing.

Kathleen Willey. In 1999 she appeared on “60 Minutes” and claimed that Bill Clinton groped her while she served as a White House aide in 1993. President Clinton denied the allegation. A private investigator found the evidence inconclusive. You can learn more about Jones and Willey here.

The claims these women maintain against Bill Clinton may be true. They may be false. They may be a little bit of both. Their cases certainly deserve the full attention, scrutiny and resolve that everyone claiming victimhood deserves, regardless of who they’re accusing.

But folks, I’m confused. Or to use that word I used in my last ‘Popcorn Politics’ post, baffled.

Why would any victim of sexual assault stand up to their aggressor by siding with a man who applauds sexual assault?

I totally understand these women not wanting to support the Clintons. I’m not suggesting they should. There are plenty of people who dislike the Clintons for reasons of principle, and aren’t going to vote for Hillary — but that doesn’t mean they are going to vote for Trump! That’s like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire! Bernie or Bust-ers are going to write in Bernie, or cast their vote for loopy Gary Johnson or tree-hugging Jill Stein, or maybe just write in their grandma.

But with Broaddrick, Willey and Jones I am so much more appalled and confused than I am with the average Clinton-dissenter who votes for Trump not because Trump is a good choice, but because they just don’t like Clinton. Broaddrick, Willey and Jones are worse because they specifically stand against the Clintons for sexual assault — and yet all evidence points to Trump privately being an advocate of sexual assault! Not just assault — Trump consistently demonstrates disrespect for and nonchalance towards women in general — including his own daughter. Ladies, this is not the way to stand up to your aggressor!

By supporting Trump, these three women are sending a very clear but very sick message — that vengeance is more important than women’s rights. Vindication is more important than every woman’s right to equality and respect — both publicly and privately. Broaddrick, Willey and Jones could be using their alleged experiences to encourage other women and girls to fight for their rights; to not be ashamed of what others have done to them; to know that other people’s actions are not their fault. These three women could be using this political season via social media and talk show appearances to tell women that our experiences and our rights should not be swept under the carpet for any political agenda; that our worth is and should be a top priority, both politically and socially.

Instead, Broaddrick, Willey and Jones have done the exact opposite. By supporting Trump their message is: “Your worth as a human being and a woman is secondary to political and social agendas. If you can get back at your enemies by compromising your individual worth and integrity, do so. Women and girls should ignore Trump’s glaring disrespect and mistreatment of the opposite sex in order to prevent Clinton from obtaining office.”

To make matters worse, at least one woman was paid to appear alongside Trump! So now the message isn’t just ‘Sacrifice your value and integrity for political and social agendas’. Now it’s ‘Support disrespect and mistreatment of women if it means a payday’! At the very least, this woman should donate the money she received to an organization that fights for sexual assault victims.

And when I think about it, that leads me to wonder: If these women will support a chauvinist pig for money, how credible are their claims of sexual assault against Bill Clinton? Just wondering.

One could even argue that in the grand scheme of things, Broaddrick, Willey and Jones are perpetuating the cycle by paving the way for sexual assaults and disrespect towards women to go unaddressed in the future.

They could have been role models...