Yes, I’d feel differently if he had a longstanding affair with someone he cared about–a real relationship–rather than preying on a vulnerable young member of his staff.
But it shouldn’t surprise you that I am grossed out by Clinton. For people who believe he ought to stand for something, his lying and his betrayals have been a continuing source of dismay. (See Todd Purdum in the New York Times today: “A Career Marked by Bending Both Rules and Truth.”) His staffers who hung in there with him till now are feeling wronged, according to the Times today. But these were really the last of the last. Clinton threw so many people overboard after his first term, he’s left a wide wake of disillusionment. This is what the Democratic Party has come to, thanks to Clinton’s successful campaign to capture the DLC–slick salesmanship in place of real principle. This is the great Third Way, the strategy of pretending to be all things to all people, rather than standing up for what’s right. There’s nothing to it but blind ambition–no concern for anything greater than that. Our other option is the rape-and-pillage party of deregulation, corporate predation, and moral sanctimony. What a country.
I still think Clinton will hang in there, though. They’ll have to pry him out of the White House. He has no shame and no loyalties–why should he leave now? And let’s not forget there’s not much of a case for impeachment. As personally reprehensible as Clinton is, lying about his affair ain’t exactly Watergate. For Nixon the choice was step down or be impeached. Even Orrin Hatch doesn’t sound like he wants impeachment proceedings. The Republicans in Congress will mess around with the Starr report for a little while, just to prove that there’s more to it than sex. But ultimately there won’t be an impeachment threat and Clinton won’t budge.