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Is It Fair to Raise Rape & Harassment Allegations Against Bill Clinton in Hillary's 2016 Campaign?

StoryJanuary 19, 2016
Watch iconWatch Full Show

Guests
Liza Featherstone

contributing editor to The Nation. Her recent piece is headlined "Why This Socialist Feminist Is Not Voting for Hillary." She is the editor of the forthcoming book, False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Clinton.

Suzanna Walters

professor of sociology and director of the Gender Studies Program at Northeastern University. Her recent piece for The Nation is headlined "Why This Socialist Feminist Is For Hillary." She is also the editor of the feminist journal Signs and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes, and Good Intentions Are Sabotaging Gay Equality.


At least three women—Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey—have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault or harassment. Clinton has denied all three allegations but settled out of court with Jones. Broaddrick, who accuses Bill Clinton of rape, has said that Hillary Clinton encouraged her to remain silent. Are the allegations fair game in Hillary’s run for the presidency? We discuss with Liza Featherstone, a contributing editor to The Nation, and Suzanna Walters, a professor of sociology and director of the Gender Studies Program at Northeastern University.


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Suzanna Walters, do you think it’s fair to raise Bill Clinton and his past, the allegations of him around women and coercive sexual relations—not clear exactly; this was never brought ultimately into a court of law—when talking about Hillary Clinton?

SUZANNA WALTERS: Yeah, you know what? I don’t think it’s fair. And it’s not even a matter of fair. I think what it reveals is some of the kind of bubbling misogyny that’s going on in this campaign. Look, it would be crazy not to think that a woman, a viable woman candidate, is going to ignite all kinds of latent, not-so-latent, explicit, not-so-explicit misogyny that never is far from the surface of American culture. We saw it with Obama and the kind of disgusting racism that trailed every bit of his presidency, and will, I’m sure, his post-presidency. So the kinds of focus on her marriage, Bill, their history, who cares? I find it absolutely ridiculous, pointless.

Let us talk about the issues. Let’s talk about—it’s a fair debate: Do you think she’s too hawkish? Fine, don’t support her. You think, you know, Bernie is a better candidate? Wonderful. You know? But to demonize her, in any way—to demonize her because of her marriage, to demonize her because of her husband, to demonize her because of her gender—seems to me mistaken and a way in which the left often eats itself, you know, this sort of tearing at each other. We have a real demon out there, more than one. And the Republican Party has been taken over by such right-wing ideologues, who are vehemently and explicitly racist, sexist, homophobic. So I do fear that in ripping ourselves apart, we don’t see the long game, which is making sure that this country does not get in the hands of these kinds of folks, who would damage all of us, and things that we all agree on would be completely undermined. I think the other thing—

AMY GOODMAN: Let me bring Liza Featherstone in—

SUZANNA WALTERS: —yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —on that issue of bringing in Bill Clinton’s record, personally and professionally.

LIZA FEATHERSTONE: So, I actually—I like the high-minded stance that Bernie Sanders has taken on this of not bringing it up—

SUZANNA WALTERS: Me, too.

LIZA FEATHERSTONE: —and appreciate the spirit in which Suzanna is saying the same. But actually, some of the allegations—I mean, Juanita Broaddrick is a 72-year-old—now-72-year-old woman who many years ago—who says that many years ago she was raped by Bill Clinton. And many people have found her charges pretty credible. She has—there has also been questions of Hillary being instrumental in some kind of cover-up or some kind of pressure on her to retract those charges or to be quiet. And I have no idea what happened. I have no idea whether those things are true. But I actually don’t think that those things should be dismissed. I think, you know, how a woman in power treats a much less powerful woman, who has accused a powerful man of raping her, actually is important. And, you know, I think that some of these—I think sometimes the questions about Bill’s behavior do spill over into questions about Hillary that perhaps really should be addressed, as opposed to, I mean, you know, "Why didn’t she leave him after Monica?" Who cares? I would emphatically agree about that.

SUZANNA WALTERS: I would only respond that, you know, certainly, that some of it—I agree, some of it is grist for the mill. But, you know, the question about Broaddrick, look, there’s just as many people who don’t find it credible, who don’t find her accusations credible. So, you know, I guess I would say, let us be very careful about this—both about the probing of the personal lives and intimate lives and sexual lives of candidates, and the different ways we do evaluate those in terms of the gender of the candidates, but also about the ways in which that can reveal a kind of displacement around substantive issues. There’s a lot of substantive issues about differences between Bernie and Hillary that we should talk about. That’s—let’s do it. You know? And we’ve done some of it. And Liza has done some wonderful work on that, about their differences in terms of healthcare policies, their differences in terms of the—you know, the difference of how they would treat wage increases and minimum wage. There are differences.

Now, I would also say the other thing we should focus on is the incredible commonalities that the two of them have. You know, what’s been impressive to me, again, about these debates is where you see the real lines of similarity and commonality and shared vision and shared belief systems of the two major Democratic Party candidates. You have some similarity on the Republican side, but in a way that terrifies me. But, you know, we tend on the left to only focus on these differences between us. And again, I think we do a disservice, because when it comes to whoever is the Democratic nominee, we all need to commit to working for him or her. And I can tell you, I will. Bernie or Hillary, my heart is open to either one. I will send myself into the field, get my kid going on it. And I think we all need to do that. And, you know, I have—

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to have to leave it there, but of course we will continue this debate. Suzanna Walters teaches at Northeastern University, her recent piece for The Nation headlined "Why This Socialist Feminist Is For Hillary." And I want to thank Liza Featherstone, who is a contributing editor to The Nation, for being with us today, supporting Bernie Sanders. The Nation magazine actually came out for only the third time in its 150-year history to support a candidate within the Democratic primary, and they came out for Bernie Sanders.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we go to Ithaca, New York, a grandmother about to go to jail for six months involved with an anti-drone protest. Stay with us.

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