Two Down

Down the hill at Melrose and Gower, at Paramount Pictures, they make slasher movies now and then – another Star Trek movie isn’t going to keep that studio afloat. Quick cash is necessary, and those slasher movies practically write themselves, and they don’t require elaborate sets and all the CGI stuff. They’re quite simple. There’s always a stalker, a silent evil stalker – in a quite ordinary setting – a suburban neighborhood or the local high school. He lurks in the background. He looms menacingly in the shadows. The sweet young thing – there’s always a sweet young thing – tries to pretend he’s not there. But he is. And then bad things happen.

And then there was the second presidential debate. There was this large heavy-set old man in a very black suit, a bit too large for him, wearing a bright blood-red tie, obviously very angry, scowling bitterly, heavily pacing back and forth, silently, looming behind the smiling chipper woman trying to make some point to the audience. He would, now and them, stop right behind her and stare at her as she spoke, possibly thinking murderous thoughts. She ignored him. In the slasher movies she would soon die a horrible death. But this was just a political debate. No one is going to die.

L. V. Anderson puts that this way:

Donald Trump’s major task for the second presidential debate – likely an insurmountable one – was to reassure women that he’s not a sexual predator. When asked a question early on about the instantly infamous tape from 2005 in which he bragged about groping women, Trump replied, “This was locker-room talk. I am not proud of it. I apologized to my family and the American people. I am not proud of it.” When moderator Anderson Cooper pushed him – “For the record, are you saying that what you said on the bus 11 years ago, that you did not kiss women without consent or grope women, you said you never did that?” – Trump insisted, “Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”

That respect doesn’t extend to Hillary Clinton, whom Trump repeatedly photobombed during the debate. During Clinton’s time, Trump wandered around the stage like a bored child at a wedding. He paced back and forth like a patriarch impatiently allowing a woman to speak but thinking better of it. He hovered a few feet behind her like a psycho killer about to burst through a glass window in a horror movie.

The visuals were bad. Those of us who live here in Hollywood knew that immediately. Everyone knew that, and Anderson notes the tweets from various women:

Hilary’s composure an ability to speak coherently with a psychopath lurking behind her is demonstration of her ability to lead.

Scary Halloween costume idea: Dress up like Trump, go to a party, and stand 3-5 feet behind successful women.

I’m a Muslim, and I would like to report a crazy man threatening a woman on a stage in Missouri.

Trump is literally just lurking behind a small woman counting the seconds while she speaks to then complain about how long she is speaking.

This is the face of a sexist getting his ass kicked in a debate by a woman.

And Anderson also notes this:

Eternally cheerful Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway appeared on MSNBC after Sunday night’s presidential debate to spin the whole circus as a win for her boss and to remind viewers that the real enemy of women is Hillary Clinton. So far, so normal. But then Chris Matthews asked Conway if she had any plans to leave Trump’s campaign, and her answer was … not normal. “You’re with the campaign till the bitter end?” said Matthews.

“I’m with the campaign till the bitter end. Unless … ” There was a dramatic pause, as though Conway were contemplating where her life might be right now if she hadn’t decided to lead the campaign of a notorious misogynist. Then she whispered something that sounded a lot like, “Who knows?” and reminded herself where she was. “I’m sitting here as his campaign manager. I’m sitting here with you in the debate hall where he just performed beautifully.”

“So you’re worried about more shoes dropping?” Matthews asked.

“No, I didn’t say that,” she replied, flustered. “No, no, no. No. No. I’ve made a commitment. And I believe that he will be a much better president.” Conway stumbled through a confusing sentence about how everyone knows Trump won the debate but that everyone is talking about it how he stood menacingly behind Clinton, and then she found her way again. “The woman you saw out there tonight I think is unfit to be president,” she concluded with most of her usual swagger.

Everyone is allowed to have second thoughts, even if it’s best to keep them private. But this debate in Saint Louis was a strange debate:

The presidential campaign took a dark turn here Sunday night as Donald Trump leveled a stream of harsh charges at Hillary Clinton during their second debate, claiming she attacked women who accused her husband of sexual abuse and promising to send the former secretary of state to jail if he is president.

Yeah, he said that twice. If he becomes president, she goes to jail. Presidents can do that, you know – jail their opponents and throw away the key. They can’t. Perhaps he has some other country in mind. He does think Putin is an admirable strong leader. Such things happen there, but this Washington Post account has far more:

Reeling from the release of a 2005 video showing him crudely bragging about using his fame to force himself on women, Trump sought to salvage his candidacy by going on the offensive against Clinton.

He repeatedly interrupted the Democratic nominee. He lashed out at her with a multitude of falsehoods over her foreign and domestic policies as well as her judgment and character. He called her “a liar” and “the Devil.” And as Clinton answered voters’ questions in the town-hall-style debate, Trump lurked just an arm’s length behind her with a grimace on his face.

Lurking? The devil? This was one of those slasher movies, but this was the sweet (sort of) young thing who fought back:

Clinton, while mostly restrained, showed flashes of ire at her aggressor. “Okay, Donald, I know you’re into big diversion tonight,” she said. “Anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way it is exploding and the way Republicans are leaving you.”

With the Republican Party in an unprecedented crisis and dozens of GOP officials calling on Trump to step aside since the video’s release on Friday, Trump’s isolation was laid bare on the stage here when he curtly broke with his vice-presidential running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, on a central foreign policy issue.

While Pence has described Russia in hawkish terms as a menace in the Middle East, Trump said he disagreed and that they had not discussed Russia’s role in the Syrian civil war.

He proved her right. Those Republicans abandoning him are cowards and fools. So is his running mate. He doesn’t talk to him. He doesn’t listen to him, and this sums up the dynamic:

Trump was energetic but at times confusing, stitching together scattered talking points and often evading the questions, presenting a stark contrast to Clinton’s steady if also sometimes halting and lawyerly presentation.

But it went bad from the beginning:

The evening’s caustic tone was set when Trump and Clinton refused to shake hands when they met at center stage. Trump was asked at the start of the debate whether he understood that he was effectively describing sexual assault in the newly released video. His voice flat, Trump framed the matter as a distraction from the problems facing the world.

“I’m very embarrassed by it,” Trump said. “I hate it. But it’s locker-room talk. It’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS.”

Clinton responded: “What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women, what he thinks about women, what he does to women. And he has said that the video doesn’t represent who he is, but I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is.”

Trump dismissed Clinton’s comments and unfurled a searing attack on former president Bill Clinton, who watched stern-faced from the audience.

“If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse,” Trump said. “Mine were words and his was action. What he did to women, there’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation who’s been so abusive to women… Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously.”

Noting that some of Clinton’s accusers were seated in the audience as his guests, Trump continued: “What President Clinton did, he was impeached. He lost his license to practice law. He had to pay an $850,000 fine to one of the women, Paula Jones, who’s also here tonight. And I will tell you that when Hillary brings up a point like that, she talks about words that I said 11 years ago, I think it’s disgraceful.”

Clinton refused to litigate the women’s allegations raised by Trump, which the Clintons have long denied. “When I hear something like that I am reminded of what my friend Michelle Obama advised us all: ‘When they go low, you go high,'” Clinton said, referring to the first lady.

Still, Trump’s point was clear. Let’s not talk about me. Let’s talk about your husband, and Clinton had an answer to that:

Clinton pivoted to a critique of Trump’s fitness for office.

“It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country,” she said.

“Because you’d be in jail,” Trump interjected, referring to his earlier vow to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s private emails and handling of classified information.

That was his answer to everything. Lady, you’re going to jail. But context is everything:

Trump spent the weekend mostly hunkered down at Trump Tower in New York, stewing over mass defections from fellow Republicans and taking counsel from a shrinking circle of loyalists. His candidacy has plunged the GOP into civil war and elected officials fearing he could cost them their majorities in both chambers of Congress.

Trump’s candidacy was in a precarious state even before Friday’s release of the video showing his predatory remarks. After stumbling through the first debate and behaving erratically in the aftermath, Trump fell behind Clinton in most national and battleground state polls.

Trump was combative throughout the debate, accusing the moderators of bias and saying he felt like the debate was “one on three.” At one point, as the moderators tried to move the conversation along, Trump snapped and said, “Why don’t you interrupt her?”

He was angry and whining about how unfair it all was, again, and she didn’t let up:

Clinton also used Trump’s affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin to cast the Republican nominee almost as a pawn for an adversarial foreign power. Clinton said Russia was “working so hard” to influence the U.S. election.

“Maybe because he has praised Putin,” she said, demanding that Trump release his tax returns that would show whether he has any conflicts of interest with Russia or other foreign entities.

“So ridiculous,” Trump said. “I don’t know Putin. I know nothing about Russia.”

That’s probably true. He shouldn’t have said that, or this:

Trump seemed to concede that he had avoided paying any federal income taxes for some recent years by taking advantage of tax loopholes and the massive $916 million loss he reported in 1995.

Or this:

As at the first debate two weeks ago, much of Sunday night’s event centered on Trump’s temperament. Cooper asked Trump about his penchant for sharing his unfiltered thoughts to millions of followers on Twitter, asking whether his tweets were reflective of a stable person.

Trump, who falsely denied pointing his Twitter followers to an alleged “sex tape” of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, called his tweeting a “modern form of communication” and “very effective.”

“I’m not unproud of it,” he said.

He stands alone there, and everyone in the party had told him not to do this:

In a stunt one hour before the event, Trump invited a small group of reporters to observe what was billed as his final debate preparations. When they arrived in Trump’s sixth-floor conference room at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis, they found the candidate in a highly unusual scene – glowering as he sat alongside four women who claimed they had been mistreated by the Clintons.

The quartet included Paula Jones, who accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment in the early 1990s, and Juanita Broaddrick, who accused him of raping her in 1978.

“Mr. Trump may have said some bad words,” Broaddrick told reporters. “But Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there’s any comparison.”

The Clintons have denied the accusations, although Bill Clinton did pay Jones a settlement without admitting or denying her accusation.

Watching as the news conference unfolded was one of the men who orchestrated it, Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s campaign chief executive and the political provocateur who has long targeted the Clintons as well as the Republican establishment through his conservative website, Breitbart.

So this debate, and the rest of the campaign, is going to be about Bill Clinton. Republicans know how that turned out in the nineties. Trump doesn’t, or he doesn’t care. He’s angry. And he likes lurking in the shadows, an evil menace.

Josh Marshall suggests this:

I think this was the debate the Breitbart crew – Bannon, Bossie and the rest – wanted from Trump. He hit Bill’s history; he was aggressive and slashing; he repeatedly called Hillary a liar; he managed to list off virtually the entire library of Clinton ‘scandals’, attack lines. It was all there. If you’re part of the Breitbart world, the Breitbart brain trust, this is the debate you wanted. These were the attacks you wanted to see someone stand on that stage and level against Hillary Clinton. It was a decent shot at the primal scream they’ve hungered for.

But that may have not done much good:

One notable thing is that there was that moment we’ve all been waiting for when Trump finally unloaded the whole oppo file on Bill. Again, that’s part of the Breitbart/base GOP fantasy scenario. Indeed, in a very real sense this has been a dream moment for many on the American right for 25 years. And yet, my sense is that it basically fell flat and barely affected the rest of the debate – like a stone falling into a pond never to be heard from again. He trotted out what all of us have been hearing from Trump and Trump surrogates for months. Indeed, it was what we’ve been hearing anti-Clinton critiques hitting for two decades. Did it matter? I don’t think so. Saying on a stage and in front of Hillary didn’t make it any newer or more consequential. It just fell flat and I don’t think anyone cared.

No one cared in the late nineties when Clinton was impeached. Clinton’s favorable numbers soared. The Democrats actually gained seats in the midterms that year. Newt Gingrich lost his job. Why would it be any different now? But there’s more:

For those of us who’ve watched a number of these presidential townhall debates what’s striking is how different this one was from every previous one. The citizen audience members were barely part of it. I could recall the debate and basically forget they were even there. Townhall debates usually focus tightly on audience questions, with those questions, often focused on real world concerns more than campaign narratives, driving the debate forward. This was totally different. It was largely a contentious and bristling brawl in which the moderators maintained tight control over time but basically let the candidates have a knife fight.

The part of the debate that sort of eludes me is the effect of Trump’s manner. Trump did considerably better than he did in the first debate. But throughout he was blustering, visibly angry, frequently whining to and about the moderators. He was bellicose, harsh and taunting.

The whole debate, rancid and intense, felt like an ordeal to live through just watching it on television.

And there was that other thing:

I don’t think we can discuss this debate as citizens, or take stock of it as a country, without noting that this is certainly the first time one candidate has openly threatened to jail the other candidate. Trump said openly that he would instruct the Justice Department to open a new investigation of Clinton and that he’d make sure it ended with her imprisonment. That’s something we expect in a kleptocracy and thin democracies where electoral defeat can mean exile, imprisonment or death.

Such a ferocious claim, one that puts our whole constitutional order on its head, is not something that can be easily undone. That’s the ranting threat of a would-be strongman and dictator. The threat itself is like a bell that can’t be un-rung. Through the course of what was often an ugly debate, I was thinking a lot of the destructiveness of this entire campaign, virtually all of which stems from Trump’s transgressive, norm-demolishing behavior. It’s a topic the country is going to need to wrestle with. None of this is going to disappear after November 8th. These are slashing wounds to the country’s political fabric that will at best leave tremendous scar tissue we’ll still see for decades.

And then there’s Trump himself:

So did that caustic manner matter? It’s a little hard for me to figure that out simply because we know Trump is like this. It’s hard to see how anyone is going to be surprised. By any pre-2016 standard we know, the entirety of angry, blustering manner would be fatal for a presidential candidate. But we’ve been living with this guy for a year and a half. We all have a little bit of the trauma of living in the home of an abuser now. We’re accustomed to it. To a degree it starts to feel normal. My best guess is that through all the muck of this debate it will matter simply because it confirms what people already know.

The big issue for Trump, as we’ve discussed endlessly, is that most people think he’s not fit, temperamentally and emotionally, to be president. I suspect anyone who has questions on that front will find their skepticism about him confirmed.

There were also numerous times when Trump simply lied. I suspect that those lies, outside the kinetic intensity of this debate, will come back to bite him over the next week – just as they did in the first debate and similarly from the veep debate. Other points weren’t ‘lies’ per se but he doubled and tripled down on his taped comments just being locker room banter. All of this will haunt him over the next several days.

That means that Trump didn’t win:

To the extent that one can evaluate these things in win or lose terms, on points, I’d say it was maybe a draw. But the only real measure is what it means for the outcome of the race. By that measure, a draw is a Clinton win. Because Clinton is significantly ahead of Trump with 30 days to go and his party is in the midst of abandoning him. I suspect Trump probably at least partly arrested or at least slowed the run of denunciations within his own party. But Trump needs to shake up the race in a big way or he’s on the way to losing. He clearly did not do that. That’s the only measure that matters. By that measure, it was Clinton’s night.

Kevin Drum confirms that:

According to CNN, debate watchers thought Hillary Clinton won the debate, 57-34 percent. CNN’s focus group was something like 20-1 in favor of Clinton.

But! Trump did better than expected. He didn’t spontaneously combust on stage, so I suppose that’s a fair comment.

Elsewhere on CNN, the big topic is Trump’s declaration to Hillary Clinton that if he wins he’ll appoint a special prosecutor to “look into your situation.” Aside from the odious Scottie Nell Hughes, this was pretty unanimously panned as un-American and unprecedented. It’s banana republic stuff, not mature democracy stuff. Even Wolf Blitzer felt obliged to denounce it.

Trump has said this before, so it’s not actually news. But saying it on national TV in front of 80 million people? That’s different.

Drum also saw this:

Trump didn’t crash and burn like he did in the first debate, so I suppose that has to be counted as a victory of sorts. But on substance he almost literally said nothing. Every question was used as an opportunity to attack Hillary Clinton in one way or another. She’s a liar; she loves rich people; her husband is a sexual predator; she has “tremendous hate in her heart”; she wants to put coal miners out of business; she ought to be in jail; Michelle Obama hates her; and on and on. I think it’s safe to say that no one in presidential debate history has come anywhere close to being as derogatory as Trump was this evening…

I guess it was something of a Hail Mary. No ordinary debate performance was likely to help Trump at this point, so why not shoot the moon? But it didn’t work. He spit out an endless stream of lies, in the hopes that the audience would just be confused.

It seems they weren’t:

On policy, Clinton was her usual composed self and Trump was his usual hot mess. The Muslim ban “somehow” morphed into extreme vetting. He’ll replace Obamacare with something or other, and it will be fantastic. Saying “radical Islamic terrorism” over and over is the key to fighting ISIS. If he wins, he’s going to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton (!). On Syria, I literally couldn’t understand what he was trying to say.

Overall, this was not quite the shellacking that Trump took in the first debate, but it wasn’t a good look. Unfortunately, we’ll never really know how it affected him. There will be polls next week, but they’ll be responding to both the debate and Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” remarks. So there’s no telling what’s causing what.

That said, this was clearly another win for Clinton. She was calm and composed, and got in plenty of shots at Trump. Trump, by contrast, very definitely didn’t look like a guy you want in charge of the nuclear codes.

Is this over now? Can it be? We don’t need another slasher movie with a dark mysterious stalker, even if Trump’s chain saw is only metaphoric in this case – just words. But this is two down, one to go. There will be a third debate. Why?

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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1 Response to Two Down

  1. Rick says:

    One disagreement I have with all the pundits, especially on my side of the aisle, is whether all that Billy Bush and Donald Trump chatter on the bus was “locker room banter”. They say it wasn’t, and I can’t understand what they mean by that. Of course it was, as if that means anything useful here. Why do they think that it being locker room chat somehow makes it okay?

    Except that, since I don’t play golf or tennis or whatever, I have no way of knowing what is being talked about in men’s locker rooms these days. I only know from way-back memories of high school phys-ed classes and track team practices. Yes, these kind of topics were discussed, in roughly the same language, and probably made-up claims, but it’s important to note that, not only did not all the guys join in, only a very few of the loud jerks did, usually cheered on by a small gaggle of giggling toadies.

    Most the us guys ignored it, trying not to get dressed too fast and leave too hurriedly so as not to arouse suspicion that all this ”guy” talk made us slightly uncomfortable — which it did.

    And yes, as Trump confessed, it was just “all talk”, allowing him to claim that his deeply-regrettable transgressions were only words, whereas Bill Clinton’s were actions! (And yet, without checking the debate transcript, didn’t Donald at one point accuse Hillary of being “all words and no action”? How does this guy always seem to position himself on both sides of every argument?)

    But to punctuate his puzzling claims about Bill Clinton, about an hour before the debate was scheduled to begin, Trump staged a blitzkrieg news conference at a nearby hotel with a group of anti-Clinton women, three of whom claimed they had been sexually assaulted by Hillary’s husband, and the fourth being a woman who, back when she was 12 years old, was the (alleged?) victim in a rape case in which the then young lawyer, Hillary Rodham, defended the accused.

    Yes, this Trump stunt largely fizzled, maybe because Monica Lewinsky was not one of the women (I’ll bet it was not from lack of trying by the Trump campaign; I’ll bet they asked her but she refused). It probably went nowhere because all the other cases had been litigated and investigated years before, mostly ending up nowhere.

    But just so the history of these cases not be obscured by 2016 politics, I looked them all up.

    In the case of Paula Jones, who was an Arkansas state employee when Bill was governor:

    According to Jones’s account, on May 8, 1991, she was escorted to Clinton’s (then Governor of Arkansas) room in the Excelsior (now Little Rock Marriott) Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he propositioned and exposed himself to her. She claimed she kept quiet about the incident until 1994, when a David Brock story in the American Spectator magazine printed an account. Jones filed a sexual harassment suit against Clinton on May 6, 1994, two days before the three-year statute of limitations…

    Judge Susan Webber Wright granted President Clinton’s motion for summary judgment, ruling that … Jones failed to show that Clinton’s actions constituted “outrageous conduct” as required of the tort alongside not showing proof of damages caused by distress. Jones appealed the dismissal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, where, at oral argument, two of the three judges on the panel appeared sympathetic to her arguments. …

    But before there was a ruling:

    On November 13, 1998, Clinton settled with Jones for $850,000, the entire amount of her claim, but without an apology, in exchange for her agreement to drop the appeal. Robert S. Bennett, Clinton’s attorney, still maintained that Jones’s claim was baseless and that Clinton only settled so he could end the lawsuit and move on with his life. In March 1999, Judge Wright ruled that Jones would only get $200,000 from the settlement and that the rest of the money would pay for her legal expenses. …

    She also appeared in the news media to show the results of a makeover and of a Rhinoplasty [a.k.a., “a nose job”] paid for by a donor.

    In April 1999, Judge Wright found Clinton in civil contempt of court for misleading testimony in the Jones case. She ordered Clinton to pay $1,202 to the court and an additional $90,000 to Jones’s lawyers for expenses incurred, far less than the $496,000 that the lawyers originally requested.

    By agreement with the Arkansas Bar Association, Clinton gave up his Arkansas law license for a period of five years. And it was the Paula Jones case that got him impeached, for lying and obstruction of justice in saying he didn’t have sexual relations with that Lewinsky woman.

    Jones sued Penthouse Magazine during all this for printing nude photos of her, taken by her boyfriend, but it was too late — the magazine had already gone to the distributors. But in 2000, she went back and made a deal with the same magazine:

    She later posed for photos illustrating an article, “The Perils of Paula Jones” in the December 2000 issue, citing the pressures of a large tax bill and two young sons to support.

    Then there’s Kathleen Willey:

    In 2015, Kathleen Willey alleged Clinton groped her in the White House Oval Office in 1993. Kenneth Starr granted her immunity for her testimony in his separate inquiry.

    Linda Tripp, the Clinton Administration staffer who secretly taped her phone conversations with Monica Lewinsky in order to expose the latter’s affair with the President, testified under oath that Willey’s sexual contact with President Clinton in 1993 was consensual, that Willey had been flirting with the President, and that Willey was happy and excited following her 1993 encounter with Clinton. Ken Starr thought there was insufficient evidence to pursue her allegations further.

    In 2007 Willey published a book about her experiences with the Clintons.

    And there’s this add, back in May, from Media Matters:

    The Office of the Independent Counsel reviewed Willey’s allegations but declined to press charges after determining that Willey repeatedly shifted her story, lied to the FBI, and urged a friend to falsely support her story. She subsequently suggested that the Clintons had murdered her husband in the same way they supposedly murdered former White House aide Vince Foster.

    On that same page, there’s also, “close Trump ally Roger Stone says Trump himself gave money to Willey so she would be able to attack the Clintons during Hillary Clinton’s current presidential run”. This was back in May of this year, and Stone mentioned that “various victims of Bill Clinton — those who were raped or attacked or assaulted — those women are getting organized, and I think a number of them are going to speak out this fall.”

    Number three of the accusers is Juanita Broaddrick, who actually accused Bill Clinton of raping her:

    In a 1999 episode of Dateline NBC, former Clinton volunteer Juanita Broaddrick alleged that in the late 1970s Bill Clinton raped her in her hotel room. According to Broaddrick, she agreed to meet with Clinton for coffee in the lobby of her hotel, but Clinton asked if they could go to her room to avoid a crowd of reporters. Once Clinton had isolated her in her hotel room, he sexually assaulted her. Broaddrick stated Clinton injured her lip by biting it during the assault. In 1999, Clinton denied Broaddrick’s allegations through his lawyer.

    Supporters of Clinton have questioned her account by noting that Broaddrick continued to support Clinton, and appear at public events on his behalf, weeks after the alleged rape. In addition, Broaddrick had once signed a deposition stating that no sexual contact had occurred with Bill Clinton; although she subsequently stated that she had made this claim because “I didn’t want to be forced to testify about the most horrific event of my life.” In 1999, Slate magazine published an inconclusive piece on whether Broaddrick was telling the truth.

    Broaddrick’s allegations resurfaced in the 2016 presidential campaign. In various media interviews, Broaddrick stated that Clinton raped her and that Hillary Clinton knew about it, and tried to threaten Broaddrick into remaining silent. She claimed that she started giving some interviews in 2015 because Hillary Clinton’s statement that victims of sexual assault should be believed angered her.

    (In fact, while nobody was ever able to prove or disprove Broaddrick’s allegations either way, if you read that inconclusive Slate magazine piece, mentioned above, you might just find her story quite credible.)

    Finally, the fourth woman in the group, Kathy Shelton, was not an accuser of Bill, but instead has a beef with Hillary Clinton herself, as investigated by Snopes earlier this year:

    ”In 1975 when I was 12, I was raped by a 42 year old man. Hillary Clinton volunteered to be his lawyer. In court, Hillary told the judge that I made up the rape story because I enjoyed fantasizing about older men. Hillary got my rapist freed. In 1980 she gave an interview where she admitted she knew he was guilty. And she laughed about it. Hillary Clinton is an advocate for rapists. Not for women or children.”

    According to Snopes, this poster, complete with photo of a beautiful blond teenaged girl with tears running down her face (but with this small-print disclaimer, “This story is true. Photo is not the actual victim”), began circulating back in May on Facebook, the claims of which Snopes pronounced “Mostly False”, in that, for one thing, Hillary did not volunteer, but was assigned to the case by the judge because the accused demanded to have a woman defense lawyer. Also, witnesses from the time attest that she requested to be let off the case, but was turned down.

    Documents from the 1975 case include an affidavit (p. 34) sworn by Clinton … That affidavit doesn’t show, as claimed, that Hillary Clinton asserted the defendant “made up the rape story because [she] enjoyed fantasizing about men”; rather, it shows that other people, including an expert in child psychology, had said that the complainant was “emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing about persons, claiming they had attacked her body,” and that “children in early adolescence tend to exaggerate or romanticize sexual experiences.” Clinton therefore asked the court to have the complainant undergo a psychiatric exam (at the defense’s expense) to determine the validity of that information…

    As for the claim that Hillary Clinton “knew the defendant was guilty,” … [is] largely irrelevant given that under Hillary Clinton’s handling of the case, the defendant pled guilty rather than going to trial and asserting his innocence.

    What really happened? Here’s a Newsday article from 2008:

    Finding out precisely what happened in the pre-dawn hours of May 10, 1975, is difficult three decades later, particularly since [the accused Bruce Alfred] Taylor died in 1992 of a heart ailment. But a basic outline can be reconstructed from interviews, court documents, witnesses’ statements and the Washington County sheriff’s original case file, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Sometime around midnight, the girl was sleeping over at a friend’s house in Springdale when Taylor and his 20-year-old cousin walked in, asking if anyone wanted to take a drive. The sixth-grader, who says she was bored and wanted to buy a soda, jumped into Taylor’s beat-up red 1963 Chevrolet pickup truck.

    Soon after, they picked up the 15-year-old boy and drove to a liquor store, where Taylor bought a pint of Old Grand-Dad whiskey, which he mixed for the girl in a cup of Coca-Cola, according to the boy, now a 48-year-old Army veteran. (Newsday is withholding the boy’s name because he was charged in the case as a juvenile offender.)

    After a few hours at a local bowling alley, the foursome crammed into Taylor’s truck and drove to a weedy ravine off a busy two-lane highway connecting the sister cities of Fayetteville and Springdale, according the sheriff’s department account.

    Taylor and the older man went off for a walk, leaving the 12-year-old and the teenager alone in the cab. In a statement to police, the 15-year-old said he removed his pants and admitted to having sex, revealing the encounter only after being pressed by investigators.

    Moments later, he said he left and Taylor approached the truck, climbing on top of the girl. The girl let out a scream, according to the police report, and he claims to have seen Taylor hitching up his pants.

    The victim, the boy reported, turned to both of them and yelled, “You all planned this, didn’t you?”

    At 4:50 a.m., the girl walked into a local emergency room, badly shaken. The doctor’s report noted that she had injuries consistent with rape.

    The “she laughed about it” part came after a 1980s interview Hillary gave to a reporter, in which she is heard laughing at this surprising development, in speaking of her client:

    He took a lie detector test! I had him take a polygraph, which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs [Laughter].

    She didn’t “get him off” of the rape charge, she made a plea deal to a lesser charge — “found guilty of Unlawful Fondling of a Child Under the Age of Fourteen” — which the prosecutor agreed to at the behest of the victim and her mother, “to make a quick plea deal rather than have the [victim] go through the ordeal of a court trial, with the mother actively interfering in the investigation to bring about that result”, with the sentence “that carried a five-year sentence, of which the judge suspended four years and allowed two months credit of time already served towards the remaining year.”

    “We both wanted it to be over with,” the victim told Newsday. “They kept asking me the same questions over and over. I was crying all the time.” …

    In 2005, while working in a laundry, the victim stole several hundred dollars worth of checks from her boss to buy drugs. She is now living in a halfway house and looking for work.

    Despite these problems, she bears Hillary Rodham Clinton no ill will and was eager to read “Living History” — at least pages 72 and 73, which contain her case.

    Which brings us to today:

    Eight years later, in 2016, the UK’s Daily Mail identified the victim (who had previously spoken anonymously to the Daily Beast) as Kathy Shelton and quoted her as saying that she “cannot forgive Hillary Clinton for defending her rapist” and that she was unaware for many years that Hillary Clinton was the person who had represented the defendant in her case:

    ‘It’s put a lot of anger back in me,’ said Shelton, now 54, in an exclusive interview at her Springdale, Arkansas, home. ‘Every time I see [Clinton] on TV I just want to reach in there and grab her, but I can’t do that.’

    For decades, Shelton said she had no idea that Clinton was the same woman as the lawyer who defended her rapist in 1975.

    That’s the tragic thing about fame and history and how they combine to effect people! Think about it:

    Had Hillary Rodham never married some guy who went on to become president of the United States, then real life sexual-assault victim Kathy Shelton, who all her life held no ill will toward the woman who defended her rapist, might never have changed her opinion about her, and therefore, would never have gotten a prominent seat at this second Trump-Clinton debate, and would have missed her own very small place in American history!


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