Why is only Bill Clinton’s ‘Dirty Laundry’ Off Limits?

Now that the presidential primary process is winding down with two presumptive nominees, the real presidential campaign is ramping up. Especially for the Democrat base, including major media organizations such CNN. While CNN handled several Republican debates in a commendable manner, it was still early in the process with Donald Trump and the seventeen dwarves calling each other names. Now with Trump surpassing the 1237 delegate threshold and Clinton on the verge of emerging from the ‘Berning’ fire of her primary battle with enough delegates to secure the Democrat nomination, the battle lines are being drawn, and CNN has moved into campaign mode.

Hillary Clinton is running to be the first woman president, playing the gender card, even going as far as handing out a “Woman Card” at campaign events. Unfortunately for Hillary, the war on women goes beyond a campaign theme that she hopes to use to her advantage. Like a boomerang returning to its thrower, the war on women is headed straight back toward Hillary Clinton, and her husband Bill. In fact, Roger Stone even wrote an entire book on the subject, The Clintons’ War on Women.

Hillary Clinton, as the first female presidential candidate, would like nothing better than to hammer her opponent Donald Trump over his treatment of women. Her campaign media arm, the New York Times, dutifully published an article a few weeks ago, “Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved with Women in Private.” Trump was accused of such boorish behavior as offering a swimsuit to one of his guests at a pool party. The backlash was swift and furious, with some of the women quoted in the Times story claiming the article was “false”.

Such is the back and forth of a contested political campaign. Past behavior and transgressions are fair game. Or are they?

Bill Clinton also has a past, relevant for several reasons. He is the husband of candidate Hillary Clinton. He may even be a co-president of sorts. Hillary promises to delegate one of the major jobs of the president to Bill, "My husband, who I will put in charge of revitalizing the economy 'cause he knows what he's doing."

So why is Donald Trump’s past fair game and Bill Clinton’s is not?

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin stifled any talk of Bill Clinton’s tawdry past. “We are not airing all this dirty laundry here.” Don Henley sang about ‘Dirty Laundry’ reminding listeners, “You don’t really need to find out what’s going on.” CNN is now singing backup vocals in tribute to the Clintons. Last December, CNN’s Don Lemon also stuffed the dirty laundry back into the hamper, “After the conversation veered from Donald Trump‘s recent comments about Hillary Clinton‘s bathroom use to a heated back and forth about President Bill Clinton‘s sexual trysts.” Don Henley was right; we apparently don’t need to find out what’s going on.

So why is Donald Trump’s past fair game and Bill Clinton’s is not?

Not only Donald Trump, but also Mitt Romney. CNN happily wrote about allegations of Mitt Romney bullying a kid while in high school. They also reported a Romney family trip 30 years ago with the family dog in a crate strapped to the roof of the family car. Oh, the horror! Was Mitt guilty of sexual harassment, groping, or rape? Why are those evil deeds off limits compared to high school teasing or awkward family vacations?

Bill Cosby is accused of doing the same things Bill Clinton did. He is facing legal trials and and a media onslaught. CNN has no trouble airing Bill Cosby’s dirty laundry, but not Bill Clinton’s.

How about George W. Bush? Going back over 40 years, long before Bush occupied the White House, a bogus story concerning his Air National Guard service became a campaign issue. CNN gleefully covered this story with no pangs of conscience about ‘dirty laundry’. And don’t forget George W. Bush’s DUI arrest in 1976, considered ‘clean laundry’ by CNN and dutifully reported.

Yet the Clinton transgressions, occurring not when Bill and Hillary were in high school or young adults, but instead when they were in the White House or the Arkansas governor’s mansion, are somehow off limits? CNN and other news organizations may wish that this were so, but rest assured Donald Trump has other ideas. Despite trying to declare the Clinton history off limits, CNN begrudgingly admits Trump, “Is reintroducing Americans to a panoply of dormant scandals, personal transgressions and partisan controversies that rocked Bill Clinton's White House and first lady Hillary Clinton in two turbulent presidential terms.”

Trump is just getting started. He has at least 20 piles of dirty Clinton laundry to choose from. Hillary and her allies at CNN had better tread carefully going after Trump for being, as CNN describes, “A businessman who only protects his own interests.” Particularly when Hillary’s dirty laundry includes such self-interest protecting schemes as Whitewater, cattle futures, Benghazi, unsecure emails, and the Clinton Foundation.

The Clinton presidency was in the 90s, before the internet took off, before Twitter and other social media. That was a decade when the media could truly control what and whose dirty laundry was aired. But not so in 2016, as Donald Trump is demonstrating. Finally, for the first time, Bill and Hillary Clinton’s dirty laundry will be on full display to the world.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver-based retina surgeon, radio personality, and writer. Follow him on Facebook  and Twitter

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