The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

Bill Clinton: ‘I Like the MeToo Movement; It’s Way Overdue.’ No Kidding.

Former President Bill Clinton (YouTube screengrab via Today Show)

Bill Clinton assures us that he was the hero during the impeachment and scandal relating to his affair with Monica Lewinsky: “Former President Bill Clinton spoke out about the MeToo movement and the Monica Lewinsky scandal as NBC’s Craig Melvin sat down with him and author James Patterson, saying, “If the facts were the same, I wouldn’t” act differently today than he did at the time. “A lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted,” he says. “I defended the Constitution.”

Rarely do you see such a symphony of hypocrisy and not-so-suppressed rage.

“I think partly they’re frustrated that they’ve got all of these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office, and his voters don’t seem to care,” Clinton says in the interview.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. There are a lot of people in this world who can complain about Donald Trump and the numerous allegations of gross sexual harassment and abuse surrounding him, and the fact that a significant portion of the presidents’ supporters either refuse to believe the allegations or dismiss them as unimportant. But Bill Clinton doesn’t get to make the complaint about the public not taking allegations of presidential sexual misconduct seriously enough. Dear God, have some self-awareness, man.

Clinton also has the audacity to declare, “I like the MeToo movement; it’s way overdue.”

Clinton gets surprisingly combative with NBC’s Melvin: “You, typically, have ignored gaping facts in describing this, and I’ll bet you don’t even know them. This was litigated 20 years ago. Two-thirds of the American people sided with me. They were not interested in that. I had a sexual-harassment policy when I was governor in the Eighties. I had two women chiefs of staff when I was governor. Women were over-represented in the attorney general’s office in the Seventies. You are giving one side and omitting facts.”

Do facts gape?

Clinton really fumes about being asked about this. “You think President Kennedy should have resigned? Do you believe President Johnson should have resigned? Someone should ask you these questions, because of the way you formulate the questions. I dealt with this 20 years ago, plus, and two-thirds of the American people stayed with me.”

I don’t know, do you think that if the American people had learned in 1962 that 45-year-old John F. Kennedy had sex with a 19-year-old White House intern on her fourth day on the job in the bed where he slept with Jackie? You think the public would have shrugged at that?

Clinton was on The Today Show to promote his new book, a thriller co-written with one-man-publishing-machine James Patterson, entitled “The President Is Missing.” The New York Times finds some . . . odd plot choices:

Readers may wonder why the authors decide early on to kill off the first lady, who was a brilliant law student when she first dazzled Duncan, and why some of her last words were: “Promise me you’ll meet someone else, Jonathan. Promise me.”

Wonder how Hillary Clinton felt about that passage.

‘Pardon Me, Jerry!’ ‘Dick, I Already Did!’

Trump, this morning: “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!”

Isn’t pardoning yourself kind of like telling a genie you want to use one of your wishes to wish for more wishes?

I trust the assessment of John Yoo — because the Constitution doesn’t say the president doesn’t explicitly say he doesn’t have the authority to pardon himself, a president does theoretically have the power to do this. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

President Trump has tweeted that he has the “complete power to pardon.” As someone who supported the broadest reading of executive power as a deputy assistant attorney general during the George W. Bush administration, I think that Mr. Trump has the Constitution about right. Article II declares that the president “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” President Trump can clearly pardon anyone — even himself — subject to the Mueller investigation.

But unless Mr. Trump wants to meet the same end as Richard Nixon, he should resort only to pardons that promote the central purpose of the power. As Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist 74, the Constitution creates a pardon power out of “humanity and good policy” to allow for “mitigation from the rigor of the law.”

Everything in our Constitution is built to ensure that everyone in government has at least some level of accountability to someone else: elections, majorities, veto power, the ability to override a veto, advice and consent, judicial appointments, the ability to impeach presidents and judges. No one is able to abuse their power indefinitely, because sooner or later some other part of the system will catch on to them and hold them accountable. Even presidents have to obey the law. (Perhaps it’s appropriate that we mentioned Bill Clinton above. The argument in his defense was essentially that he was entitled to lie under oath to avoid embarrassment because he was the president, but no one else was entitled to that right.)

A president pardoning himself — as opposed to resigning, and his successor pardoning him the way President Ford pardoned Nixon — is basically writing himself a get-out-of-jail free card. It may be constitutional, it may be legal, but it’s so at odds with this concept of government accountability that it would probably require a consequence as severe as impeachment, or at least an attempted impeachment. (Trump’s tweet demonstrates he grasps this on some level; a pardon is inherently an admission that a crime was committed.)

The headline above is a reference to an old joke from the mid 1970s. Nixon and Ford meet, and because President Ford is so clumsy, he bumps into Nixon. “Pardon me, Jerry,” Nixon says, and Ford responds, “Dick, I already did!”

A Detailed Portrait of the Most Hated Retired Police Officer in America

Scot Peterson, the school resource officer in Parkland, Fla., who as on duty on campus the day of the shooting, cooperates with a Eli Saslow for a profile by the Washington Post. I don’t think it will generate much sympathy.

“How can they keep saying I did nothing?” he asked Rodriguez one morning, looking again through the documents on his kitchen table. “I’m getting on the radio to call in the shooting. I’m locking down the school. I’m clearing kids out of the courtyard. They have the video and the call logs. The evidence is sitting right there.”

“It’s easy to second-guess when you’re in some conference room, spending months thinking about what you would have done,” Rodriguez said.

“There wasn’t even time to think,” Peterson said. “It just happened, and I started reacting.”

His memory of the shooting:

But now he stood against the wall, holding his radio in one hand and his gun in the other. He remembered wondering why he could not locate the shots. Trees, roof, windows, courtyard. The fire alarm was still blaring. Police sirens were closing in from all directions. From Peterson’s position, he could see only the east side entrance to the 1200 building. Meanwhile, on the west side, at least one victim was already down.

Students inside the 1200 building were at that very moment flooding 911 with calls describing the exact location and description of the shooter, but it turned out that those calls were being routed not to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office but instead to the bordering Coral Springs Police Department. Coral Springs officers were not yet on the scene, and even once they arrived, they communicated on a separate radio system from Peterson and the rest of Broward County. The only information being relayed to him was coming out of his Broward County radio, a soundtrack first of silence and then of mounting confusion as the shooting continued into its fourth minute.

“I hear shots fired by the football field!” shouted the second Broward County deputy to arrive. “Shots by the football field.”

“Some thought it was firecrackers. We’re not sure,” said the next deputy on site. “By the football field.”

“We also heard it over by, inside the 1200 building,” Peterson said, still standing in place. “We are locking down the school right now.”

“I got more students running west toward the football field,” another officer said.

“I hear shots fired,” Peterson said. “Shots — ”

“I have a gunshot victim,” said another deputy. “He is by the entrance to West Glades, on the west side of the school.”

“Does he know where the shooter is?” Peterson shouted, but now it was already six minutes into the massacre, and the last victim had already been shot on the third floor. The gunman was dropping his AR-15 near the stairwell and then heading out of the building, blending in with the crowd of frantic students. The shooting Peterson was supposed to stop was already over.

One thing that stands out from the account: Is it always wise for schools to automatically go into “lockdown” in the event of a shooter? Doesn’t that keep everyone close to the danger? Yes, I’m sure an attempt to evacuate the school could lead to more students coming across the path of the shooter. But the “lockdown” approach keeps everyone inside with the shooter, hoping he turns his attention somewhere else.

ADDENDA: First lesson of the weekend: Broomball — hockey without skates, using broom-like sticks to knock a ball into a net — is a heck of a lot of fun when you’re a grown-up and most of your team is a group of eight-year-olds.

Second lesson of the weekend: Shoes on ice may not be much more stable than skates, and ice is really hard when you fall on it. Oh, and grown-ups have a much higher center of gravity.

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