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White House

Kamala Harris’s ‘Empowering Women’ Event with Bill Clinton Is Tone-Deaf

Former president Clinton speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, September 23, 2010. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

According to Politico’s White House reporter, Vice President Kamala Harris will host an event this Friday featuring President Bill Clinton, a one-on-one discussion of ways to “empower women and girls in the U.S. and around the world” in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The conversation will take place as part of a Clinton Global Initiative event, which perhaps explains how a spokesperson as inapt as Bill Clinton was chosen to opine on the topic of female empowerment.

The tone-deaf selection comes as little surprise considering that Democrats have for decades failed to distance themselves from Clinton, despite his sexual mistreatment of several women and the sea change effected in the last several years by the Me Too movement.

The political costs of forthrightly condemning Clinton for his history of anti-woman behavior appear to be too steep for most left-wing politicians — as was the cost for Harris, apparently, of continuing to question whether Joe Biden had sufficiently responded to sexual-assault allegations levied against him.

In a 2018 interview on The View, for instance, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) attempted to gloss over the subject of Bill Clinton’s past misconduct entirely, though some of the very first Me Too stories had just begun trickling out. Here’s the key part of her exchange with host Meghan McCain:

McCain: Senator, you have dedicated your political career to [fighting sexual misconduct], obviously. That’s why a lot of people were really surprised that it took you 20 years to say that Bill Clinton should’ve resigned over the Lewinsky scandal. So what do you say to that?

Gillibrand: I think this moment of time we’re in is very different. I don’t think we had the same conversation back then, the same lens. We didn’t hold people accountable in the same way that this moment is demanding today. And I think all of us, many of us, did not have that same lens, myself included. But today, we are having a very different conversation, and there is a moment in time where we can actually do the right thing or fixate on one president.

McCain: Can I ask you, do you regret campaigning with him, though?

Gillibrand: It’s not about any one president, and it’s not about any one industry. And if we reduce it to that, we are missing the opportunity to allow women to be heard, to allow women to have accountability and transparency, and to allow women to have justice.

Vice President Harris is highly unlikely to receive any similar questioning from the press about her choice to host a conversation with Bill Clinton — lecturing the audience on the importance of empowering women and girls, no less — but the unfortunate optics are hard to ignore.

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