In a heated and tense TODAY interview that was almost immediately overshadowed by the current president’s decision to declare he had absolute and dictatorial powers, former President Bill Clinton lost his composure and essentially threw a childlike tantrum when asked whether he’s personally apologized to Monica Lewinsky over their late-90s affair.
Host Craig Melvin brought up Lewisnky’s March op-ed in which she wrote about being diagnosed with PTSD due to the unrelenting public scrutiny over the scandal that led to Clinton’s impeachment. Framing it through a #MeToo lens, Melvin wanted to know if Clinton would have done things differently today, or would have taken more responsibility.
“No,” Clinton stated. “I felt terrible then. And I came to grips with it.”
Things went downhill from there. President Clinton went on to present himself as a victim in the wake of the sexual scandal, pointing out he left the White House $16 million in debt while scolding Melvin for ignoring “gaping facts in describing this.” He added that two-thirds of the American people sided with him at the time of scandal before patting himself on the back for being a champion of women during his time in politics.
“Mr. President, I’m not trying to present a side,” Melvin asserted.
“You asked me if I agree, and I said no, I don’t,” Clinton snarled back.
The NBC host then pressed Clinton on whether he has personally apologized to Lewinsky. The president noted that he had publicly apologized for the affair, but had not personally told her he was sorry. When asked if he feels he owes her one, we got this from the former leader of the free world.
“No. I do not — I have never talked to her,” Clinton snapped. “But I did say publicly on more than one occasion, that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.”
Clinton, a man who is one of the most articulate presidents in modern history, then engaged in rank whataboutism, questioning Melvin on whether he felt John K. Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson should have resigned over their extramarital affairs. He also reiterated that the American public supported him during the impeachment hearings while calling it old news.
After the interview aired, Clinton took an absolute lashing from journalists, pundits and observers:
I know Bill Clinton.
I like Bill Clinton.
I think b/c so many of us like him, we treat him w/kid gloves on this, despite changing times.
This was a chance for a “mea culpa” & self-reflection.
His defensive deflection does not help him, Lewinsky or #MeToo. https://t.co/LXzm2BlAXH
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) June 4, 2018
Bill Clinton gets asked if he ever apologized to Lewinsky. He responds by saying Starr investigation was unfair https://t.co/C96l2tJBe4
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 4, 2018
Bill Clinton having a near temper tantrum on the Today Show when asked about whether he should apologize to Monica Lewinsky and whether he should have resigned will be the clip of the day.
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) June 4, 2018
if we could quantify how much political capital dems have burned through defending Bill Clinton's scummy behavior for 25yrs, subtract how much good will & moral authority is costs, combine those 2 numbers & imagine where else it could have been spent my guess is it would shock us
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) June 4, 2018
Bill Clinton is a toxic narcissist. And his wife should have been president.
— Elizabeth Spiers (@espiers) June 4, 2018
i would like bill clinton to go away again, now
— Talia Lavin (@chick_in_kiev) June 4, 2018
I could imagine about 20 different ways Bill Clinton could've answered these very fair and reasonable questions from @CraigMelvin and it come out OK.
Bill Clinton chose none of those paths.
Instead he was downright nasty and deflective.
A complete mess. https://t.co/bT0RCAfbuT
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 4, 2018
With the midterms just around the corner and recent polls showing a toss-up between Republican and Democrats in the generic congressional vote, Dems are now concerned that their hopes for a Blue Wave are quickly dissipating. At this point, they have to know they need to cut bait when it comes to the one-time highly popular Clinton, as using him in a campaigning capacity could be damn near disastrous.
Just as both progressives and conservatives have called on Hillary Clinton to fade into the background in the wake of her shocking 2016 loss, it is now time for one of the most skilled political beasts of the last few generations to do the same. This current political environment is not even slightly favorable for someone of Bill Clinton’s ilk — especially if you are trying to appeal to liberals, progressives, and moderates.
Bill Clinton, no matter how you feel about his political views and policies, has exposed himself over these decades as a narcissistic misogynist, and he is now toxic to the current Democratic brand. If Dems are going to try to completely differentiate themselves from the pussygrabber-in-chief and appeal to swing voters, they can no longer waste political capital defending Clinton, regardless of his achievements as President of the United States.
They got to toss him aside. And not look back.
Watch the clip above, via NBC.