Tuesday, January 12, 2016

They're Thinking Of Sex, Sex, And More Sex

When you make Harold Ford sound sensible, it's time to reassess your values.  Salon's Scott Eric Kaufman has reported (with photobelow from Salon)

On “Morning Joe” Monday morning, host Joe Scarborough can’t seem to shake his “fascination” with comparing allegations against former president Bill Clinton with those that led to the arrest of comedian Bill Cosby last week.

“I wonder how the public looks at Bill Cosby and says, ‘this beloved man, who changed American culture as much as any entertainment figure in our lifetime, is going to have to be accountable for the way he treated women behind closed doors.’ How does a public that has come to that conclusion say, ‘the Bill Clinton’s stuff OK’?” He asked Harold Ford in one segment.

Ford shot back, “raising your voice at me doesn’t make this right — comparing Clinton to Bill Cosby is wrong.”

“I’m fascinated to hear why comparing Bill Clinton to Bill Cosby is ‘wrong,'” he replied.

Ford replied that their cases “are completely different,” including the fact that the number of women accusing Cosby approaches fifty, and the “facts are very, very different.” He added that “if Bill Clinton’s political career wasn’t undone by these [allegations], why should Hillary Clinton’s?”

There was a little something called impeachment, which followed a nearly-year long investigation of President Clinton by independent counsel Ken Starr. Indicted- impeached- by the House of Representatives, Clinton was acquitted, by a preponderance of evidence, by the Senate.  Even then, the excuse for removal was an allegation of perjury and a claim that "the cover-up is worse than the crime." The charges against President Clinton were not ignored- merely unsubstantiated.

Now we are reminded that the GOP really was interested- very interested- in sex. Comparing Bill Clinton- or is it Hillary Clinton?- to Bill Cosby is yet another example of the obsession of some Republicans.  There have been not only accusations by far more women against Bill Cosby than against the other Bill, but there is the fundamental issue of consent. Monica Lewinsky was not raped, sexually assaulted, or abused, though to some Republicans (apparently including Scarborought) that is not qualitatively different than consensual sex.

As another Salon contributor, Amanda Marcotte, explains, the GOP urge to "get even" with Democras over sex began with the controversy over the morally reprehensible Clarence Thomas.   She understands as critics conflate Bill Clinton's sexual behavior with Billl Cosby's apparently criminal sexual behavior

A similar thing is happening with conservatives re-floating these old accusations, even though they were quite thoroughly investigated by Ken Starr — who had the level of prosecutorial discretion and funding that is completely impossible to imagine for any other sexual abuse or harassment accusation ever made under any other circumstances — all turning up nothing of substance. Bill Cosby’s name comes up frequently, and you get that same weird tit-for-tat sense, as if conservatives are saying, “OK, you liberals got one, now it’s our turn.”

Except, of course, there’s no actual reason to believe that liberals wanted Cosby to be a rapist, in the same way that conservatives clearly want Bill Clinton to be one. Sure, a lot of liberals didn’t like Cosby because he is a moral scold who feeds blame-the-victim narratives about racism, but there really was zero desire on the left to “take out” Cosby. Most liberals — myself included — were really upset at realizing that the evidence against Cosby was both substantive and substantial. But this notion that there are people out there who are actually interested in justice and not just in scoring points against political opponents is clearly more than right-wing operatives can wrap their heads around.

In Scarborough's case, it may be a simple matter of characteristically fake indignation. But as Marcotte recognizes, many conservatives, intent on making political hay and entrappped by psychological projection, do not understand that most liberals really are interested in justice. It is a concept quite foreign to a party which increasingly fears things foreign.

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