“Stop using sex as a weapon!” -Pat Benatar
So sang tough gal Pat Benatar back in 1985, six years before the political left tried to deny Clarence Thomas a seat on the Supreme Court when the nation was introduced to tales of p pubic hairs on Coke cans and the exploits of one Long Dong Silver. If the left had listened to Pat back in the day, Bill O’Reilly might still have a job.
That’s not to excuse O’Reilly’s behavior, which apparently smeared ordinary lechery with a veneer of dirty-old-man sleaze. But as another victim is taken down in the tawdriest front of the cultural wars, it’s worth looking back at the battlefield carnage over the past quarter-century.
In 1991, your recall, the Senate Judiciary committee was filled with old white guys who weren’t sufficiently outraged. In turn, every feminist in the country was, and the 1992 election became the Year of the Woman, which inflicted Mom-in-Tennis-Shoes Patty Murray, D-Washington, on to the United States Senate, where she still takes up office space today.
Ms. Murray is the intellectual stalwart who believes Osama bin Laden’s popularity in the Arab world was due to his construction of a series of day care centers. Seriously.
1992 also brought us Bill Clinton, a man who publicly denied a 12-year-affair on national television even though his mistress had him on tape. Suddenly, the women who thought Clarence Thomas’s video rentals were too scandalous for words had no problem with a guy who ended up paying $850,000 to settle a sexual harassment suit that led to his impeachment. When Kathleen Willey came forward with a credible accusation that the president had put her hand on his erect penis in the Oval Office, legendary feminist Gloria Steinem wrote an op-ed praising the president because, well, at least he didn’t rape her. Seriously.
It was conservatives who were in high dudgeon that time, but all of that vanished last year when the Republican nominee was caught making statements about grabbing women where they ought not be grabbed. The right-wing position that presidents who have sex with interns are beyond the pale somehow became consistent with supporting a presidential nominee who boasted about using his celebrity to force himself on women. Steinem, et. al., rediscovered their moral indignation. Suddenly illicit presidential sex wasn’t cool anymore.
Which brings us to Bill O’Reilly, who admittedly holds no public office and is the victim of a corporate decision, not an act of Congress. Can we at least forego the farce of pretending to be outraged? Can we admit that both sides only care about sexual purity when it’s the other party that’s been caught with its pants down?