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Opening Arguments

He's baaaack!

If you've moved beyond the '90s and have no wish to relive them, sorry. If Hillary Clinton runs for the presidency, we're gonna be wallowing in Bill Clinton's libido again:

At a Shabbat (Sabbath meal) this past week, conversation veered into the political realm, as it often does when my husband and I are guests. We began to discuss the likelihood of Hillary Clinton running, the papers recently unearthed by my former colleague Alana Goodman, and about how Bill’s wandering eye could impact Hillary’s campaign. Around the table were three young people, ranging in age from about 9-17. Adult participants in the conversation soon realized that it was impossible to conduct a conversation about the Clintons with children present, and soon, the mother (rightfully) asked for a complete change in subject. Before doing so we reflected how sad it is that a president’s legacy cannot truthfully be discussed with innocent ears listening.

For how long can this mother shield her children from the topic? If Hillary runs, perhaps only a few more months. With the Clintons back in the news, pundits will be (and should be) discussing how ready America is to relive the sex scandals of the ’90s.

[. . .]

Before I had children, I often reflected on how interesting it would be to see a scandal like Clinton’s play out now, in an era of 24/7 cable news and Twitter. Now that I have a daughter, I pray something like the Lewinsky drama never emerges while my children are as young and impressionable as I was. The scandals may not hurt Hillary if she runs, but they will all be rehashed, exposing an entirely new generation to the conversation. For the sake of parents and children everywhere, let’s hope that our kids can keep their innocence longer than I was able to. For that to happen, let’s hope Hillary decides to sit out 2016.

The headline on the article is "How Bill Clinton Stole a Generation's Innocence." That may be just a tad strong -- having lived through the 1960s and its aftermath, I don't think the country had much innocence still up for grabs. I think it's fair, though, to say he stole our ability to compartmentalize our behavior -- you know, our "don't curse in front of the children" and "don't tell dirty jokes in church" sensibility. When you have late-night comics making jokes about oral sex, it's pretty hard to keep those barriers up. This was especially hard to deal with for newspapers, many of whom still operated under the mentality that had declined to print "I'm going to whip Teddy Kennedy's ass," even though it was President Carter who said it.

I don't know. Maybe we want those barriers to come down, or maybe they're already down for good. I notice Pussy Riot is back in the news again, a couple of its members being harassed by the Soviet goons in Sochi. I think the mainstream media -- especially the folks on TV -- are going overboard with coverage of the band just because it allows them to say pussy out loud and get away with it.

Yes, Bill Clinton's sex life was relevant, because it revealed his character. If the most powerful person on Earth will lie about one thing, he can't be trusted to tell the truth in other matters. There is no magic line between private and public behavior. It matters when it comes to Hillary and her potential candidacy, too. She put up with her husband's lying and cheating because of what she wanted out of the relationship. That says something about her character, and if she wants to be the most powerful person on Earth, she can't be allowed to duck the issue.