Groups that advocate for women’s rights are lashing out at Donald Trump for allegations of groping women and bragging about sexual assaults.
But some of those same groups did not think former President Bill Clinton’s allegations of sexual misconduct nearly two decades ago were disqualifying in the same way.
At least three women – Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey – accused Clinton of unwanted sexual advances. Another five, including White House intern Monica Lewinsky, said they had had consensual affairs with him. Clinton was impeached on charges of lying about the Lewinsky affair before a grand jury and of obstruction of justice, but was acquitted and served his full presidential term.
Women’s groups largely stayed supportive.
“Feminists have, all along, muffled, disguised, excused and denied the worst aspects of the president’s behavior with women,” said a lengthy Vanity Fair article from 1998.
“Feminism sort of died in that period,” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd told Yahoo recently. “Because the feminists had to come along with Bill Clinton’s retrogressive behavior with women in order to protect the progressive policies for women that Bill Clinton had as president.”
Clinton’s female supporters stood by him, especially as he denied allegations of misconduct, as has Trump. Later, after Clinton admitted to some of the allegations of consensual sex, they did criticize him but still supported him.
They were called hypocrites at the time, particularly when they were among the first to blast conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and former Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., for allegations of sexual misconduct.