The Cosbys, the Clintons, and The Donald. .
Camille Cosby was scheduled to appear yesterday in a deposition relating to a lawsuit against her husband, Bill Cosby. But a federal judge agreed late Tuesday to an emergency request filed on Monday by lawyers representing the Cosbys to delay the deposition, pending an appeal on whether she should testify at all. Whether she ultimately is deposed or not, the Crosby saga is far from over and has profound implications for Election 2016 and the Clintons.
Seven women who allege Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them brought this particular lawsuit. A few hours before New Year's Eve, Federal Judge David H. Hennessey had denied Camille Cosby's motion to quash the deposition based on spousal privilege and that her testimony would be an "undue burden." He noted she might have relevant knowledge, especially as Cosby's business manager. Cosby's leading-from-behind lawyers should have had her abrogate that post long ago.
Cosby himself has said, "People would rather deal with me than with Camille. She's rough to deal with when it comes to my business." Sounds like something Bill Clinton might say about Hillary.
Just a day before Hennessey's ruling, Bill Cosby had appeared for arraignment in Cheltenhem, Pennsylvania, where the Montgomery County district attorney charged him with three counts of sexual assault that allegedly occurred twelve years earlier. Perhaps because he is losing his sight (in one eye), or possibly to appear frail and thereby gain sympathy for any future sentencing hearing, the 78-year-old Cosby appeared able to walk only with the assistance of a lawyer on each side. Or maybe he just needs the purple pill.
More than a year ago, Tamara Green, Therese Serignese, and Linda Traitz had filed a civil suit against Cosby, contending that he sexually abused and assaulted them, then defamed them by calling each a liar. Six weeks ago, four more women -- Louisa Moritz, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis, and Angela Leslie -- joined this lawsuit. In other words, women outside the statute of limitations for a criminal case are seeking civil recourse -- the rationale here is that Cosby defamed the women by calling them liars.
Previously Cosby's lawyers claimed the women's lawsuit was unconstitutional because it violated his First Amendment rights. This argument alone proves that despite his reported $400 million net worth, Cosby seems unable to find competent lawyers. Indeed, a decade ago Cosby's attorneys let their client incriminate himself (boasting of his use of Quaaludes so a woman would not resist) in a deposition related to Andrea Constand's civil suit, rather than settle that case; then Cosby's lawyers settled it anyway. Cosby's defense seems to be he only gave Benadryl to Constand (perhaps for an allergic reaction to his unwanted sexual advances?).
Looking at how Bill Clinton settled the Paula Jones case, perhaps Cosby's lawyers assumed only a single civil suit. Cosby's admissions in that decade-old deposition, made public nearly six months ago, emboldened Cosby's past accusers and also inspired more women to come forward. Once released, the deposition transcript provided "new information" for a just-elected prosecutor to file the criminal charges against the man once celebrated as "America's favorite dad."
Cosby's legal dream team, presuming that the best defense is a good offense, countersued against the seven women, charging the women's allegations were "malicious, opportunistic, false, and defamatory." But a defamation lawsuit makes Cosby open to a wide ranging discovery proceeding, thus complicating Cosby's defense against future civil suits for sexual assault, lawsuits that require a lower standard of proof against him than a criminal case. Meanwhile, as in any defamation case, Cosby and his life, his character and credibility now are wide open, thus compromising his defense in any criminal case. Cosby's lawyers are effectively prolonging Cosby's agony, with unintended political implications I'll discuss shortly.
In a different civil suit, the relentless Gloria Allred, the Inspector Javert of lawyers pursuing sexual assaults, interrogated Cosby just three months ago. That sealed deposition of Bill Cosby will eventually become public. As for the scheduled deposition for Wednesday, January 6, the stakes would be high for Camille. Typically, lawyers have greater latitude in a deposition than in court, because information may lead to "other information," whether or not the testimony is ultimately admissible in court.
"The man I met, and fell in love with, and whom I continue to love, is the man you all knew through his work," gushed Camille Cosby last month. "He is a kind man, a generous man, a funny man, and a wonderful husband, father and friend. He is the man you thought you knew." I can't help but think of that helpless romantic, Hillary "Stand By Her Man" Clinton. We also know (bring out the violins) that Hillary has sacrificed for many years for Bill, even taking a vow of poverty (if not celibacy, then abstinence) and also leaving the White House "broke." We now know that the "charitable" Clinton Foundation not only raised money from despotic Arab regimes that punish rape victims rather than rapists, but it used that money to supplement a high lifestyle for women's advocates Hillary and Bill.
Hillary and Camille each concede an unfaithful husband, but -- the line goes -- don't all marriages have problems? And their marriage has endured! To avoid discussion of their husband's predatory sex, both strong women pretend they are weak in their marriage, that the husband was merely a cheater, and they were dupes or victims, remain "committed" and loyal.
Camille Hanks Cosby, 71, is related to Nancy Hanks, the mother of Abraham Lincoln. At 19, she went on a blind date with Bill (presumably she was not drugged); she dropped out of college amidst a quick engagement and marriage (on January 25, it will be 52 years).
Just as Hillary was the woman behind Bill Clinton, Camille supposedly was the inspiration for the Clair Huxtable character on The Bill Cosby Show. She had five children, then went back to graduate from college and earn a master's and Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, not all that far from where she was scheduled to give a deposition today. Camille is a producer and an author. During these several decades, the Cosbys have given away tens of millions, to good causes, as well as to the usual suspects like Jesse Jackson. Although some institutional beneficiaries have repudiated Bill Cosby, the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center at Spelman College remains a testament to their philanthropy.
As a boy, I watched and admired Bill Cosby in Sheldon Leonard's precedent-shattering (first black in a starring role) I Spy television series. Like many conservatives, I was drawn to Cosby in recent years because of his talk of family values, and his criticism of absentee fathers in the African-American community. In contrast, Black Leaders Matter activists have said Bill Cosby would now have more African-American support if he had supported the group last year. Still, as Cosby goes down, look for charges of selective prosecution and a demand from the most unlikely quarters that Bill Clinton is held to the same revisionist standard.
All this brings us to yet another Camille.
Camille Paglia is the "anti-feminist feminist" author of Sexual Personae. She has faulted the "feminist establishment" for its double standard in condoning Bill Clinton's predatory sexual behavior. She has criticized Gloria Steinem, the octogenarian feminist major doma, for referring to Monica Lewinsky as "this wailing ghoul." Paglia is hardly a conservative. She has voted for Ralph Nader, John Kerry, Barack Obama, and even Bill Clinton, who she now says is "a serial abuser of working-class women." Barely five months ago in an exclusive interview in the liberal Salon website, the politically incorrect Paglia elaborated on the Clinton-Cosby nexus:
...There is a big parallel between Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton -- aside from their initials! Clinton and Cosby are emotionally infantile -- they're engaged in a war with female power. It has something to do with their early sense of being smothered by female power -- and this pathetic, abusive and criminal behavior is the result of the sense of inadequacy.
The psychobabble aside, or maybe because of it, this Camille gets it, when she says women "have no idea why any men would find it arousing to have sex with a young woman who's passed out at a fraternity house." More to the point, the Cosby modus operandi and the Clinton m.o. have been featured in numerous episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. In other words, the culture is sensitized. It's all part of the "no means no" mantra or "the woman was impaired and in no condition to say 'yes," or "sexual assault of an employee in a hostile work environment." Often, SVU even features a wife who enables her husband's sexual assaults and tries to destroy the accuser. Bythe end of the show, the wife is arrested for being an accessory (or worse, if the wife acts violently). Like Camille Cosby or Hillary Clinton, the wife in SVU belatedly acknowledges "cheating" but never sexual assault or rape. The wife always puts her own self-interest (power and perks of the status marriage) above the victims. Paglia calls Hillary "a fraud... a liar... who took an antagonistic and demeaning position toward her husband's accusers."
There is a generation gap, to be sure. A man Bill Cosby's age told me, "We all did this in college. Cosby just never grew out of it." Many women age 50-plus liberal Democrats will stay with Hillary, though ironically they came of age in the sexually abusive Mad Men era. Joy Behar on her show talked about how women (and Behar) might back a rapist over someone who "opposes the Violence Against Women Act" (as if violence against women i-- or men -- is not already a crime in every state). For at least a third of the electorate, the accusations against Clinton are not a rehash. Ironically, younger women this year could rebel against Hillary, because the truth will finally emerge that Hillary was both enabler and accessory. Hillary not only put out "bimbo eruptions"; she was part of the cover-up, digging up dirt to threaten and intimidate Bill's accusers. Dick Morris now says he quit working for the Clintons because Hillary hired detectives to gather material to blackmail victims into silence.
SVU episodes play up the "signature" of serial rapists. More than fifty women have confirmed how Cosby drugged them into submission. And Clinton allegedly repeatedly used his political position, as governor and even as president, to exploit vulnerable women. Clinton's signature also may include biting their lip.
Donald Trump is shrewd. He attacks Hillary to focus attention on the general election, as if he is the nominee. Moreover, he has seduced the media into covering the story initially as marital infidelity. For good measure, he said his own infidelity is "fair game." Liberal pundits on the Sunday talk shows boast about Bill Clinton's popularity and say Bill's extramarital affairs still have no political traction. CNN's legal analyst-turned unlikely political pundit Jeffrey Toobin says voters don't care about "personal indiscretions." But Trump already is escalating the rhetoric, and ultimately he will attack Hillary as a power-hungry hypocrite intent on destroying victims of her predatory husband. In other words, the issue will be Hillary, not Bill. Democrat Kirsten Powers, who worked in the Clinton administration, concedes times have changed, and Hillary will face renewed scrutiny for her machinations.
The Cosby melodrama could keep the Clinton issue alive for Trump. Cosby's criminal preliminary hearing is January 14, and the case, with publicized delays, will go to trial or be plea-bargained unfavorably for Cosby. There may be at least one additional criminal case, in California. And there will be more civil suits from victims years ago, from decades ago. Cosby has deep pockets, and these women want justice. Clinton has deep pockets, and his women want closure. If the past is fair game for Cosby, why not for Clinton? A chivalrous Donald Trump will even the odds for these marginalized women previously threatened and intimidated by Hillary. Donald Trump can raise the ante in this campaign. Can you see Trump paying for lawyers for Clinton's victims to sue him?
Liberal Michael Tomasky, who authored a book on Hillary's Senate race, notes that Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Juanita Broaddrick are not about consensual sex. This certifiably "progressive" journalist reminds us that Hillary opened the door in Iowa in September when she said "every survivor of sexual assault... [has]... the right to be heard... believed." Last month Hillary made things worse when she accused The Donald of "sexism"; this week she put Bill on the campaign trail. Thus she gave Trump a dual opening he craved ("they attacked me, I hit back, and he's campaigning for her"). The author of The Art of the Deal will depict the Clinton marriage as a cynical arrangement, involving a quid pro quo: she literally covered his back with women, that's why he's there for her now.
Just two days ago in Nashua, New Hampshire, Bill Clinton in his opening campaign appearance for Hillary choked up about "How I fell in love with Hillary."
Will the law school romance story work again? What author (and former Trump confidante) Roger Stone has called The Clintons War on Women was once consigned to right-wing websites. Even CNN's liberal political commentator Errol Lewis, who a week ago downplayed the Cosby-Clinton nexus, said on Monday that Donald Trump's "very large megaphone behind or in front of some of those women [to] let them say what they have to say, including Hillary Clinton's role," could affect the campaign. In other words, Donald Trump, whether he becomes the Republican nominee or not, uniquely can insure that mainstream media cover the sordid conduct of this power couple.
Trump will go where other Republican candidate fear. He understands Hillary's marginal women supporters need a rationale to switch. Today's younger women voters -- even up to age 40 -- were anywhere from infants to teenagers during Bill Clinton's era (1992-2000). They will judge Hillary and Bill by SVU standards. The women who are middle aged or older will hoist Hillary's political strategists by their own proverbial petard. In other words, they will say they thought the matter was marital infidelity (just as they accepted that impeachment was about Monica Lewinsky, and not lying under oath). Now, they will say, they understand Clinton is like Cosby, forcing unwanted sexual advances on vulnerable young women. And they will see Hillary Clinton not simply as the betrayed wife, not merely as the enabling wife, but as the plotting, unethical wife -- a hypocritical womens rights advocate who tried to intimidate and silence and threaten women who were victims of her husband.
This post previously appeared in the The American Spectator.