Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has started responding to questions about a Republican “war on women” by baiting the perceived 2016 Democratic front-runner. What authority did Hillary Clinton really have, given her husband’s “predatory behavior” regarding a 20-year old White House intern? The attack is ready-made for cable news, but it hasn’t been discussed at all on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry. The eponymous host, an academic whose segments about race, poverty, and gender are roughly 20 grade levels above the rest of TV, hasn’t touched the Paul line.
Here’s one possible reason why. In Big Girls Don’t Cry, her book on the gender politics ramifications of the 2008 election, Rebecca Traister notes that “it was fallout from the Lewinsky scandal that did in Hillary with some feminists.” Yes, her overall popularity surged—it made her a stronger candidate for New York’s open Senate seat. But for a second opinion, on Page 23, Traister quotes Harris-Perry (née Harris-Lacewell).
I don’t doubt that Harris-Perry still feels that way, or would refrain from saying so when the issue came up. But she’s not forcing it. And Rand Paul is not wrong that the issue makes some progressives queasy.