Forget the debate over whether Monica Lewinsky is still relevant in 2014. Rand Paul is determined to keep Democrats’ past sexual improprieties alive, and in doing so change how Americans think about the War on Women.
Paul is turning to past sex scandals as a way to not only disparage Democrats, but also to try to change the narrative on which party really supports women. Take this from a Monday interview with NBC’s Kasie Hunt, who asked for Paul’s reaction to a Tuesday campaign event for Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes with Bill Clinton:
“If the president of your network [NBC] had relations with a 20-year-old girl who was there from college, I think the president of your network would be fired,” Paul said. “We don’t accept that in the workplace. So if that’s what Bill Clinton did multiple times. Really they ought to be concerned about being associated with him.”
Paul hasn’t let up on Bill Clinton in 2014. Grimes, for her part, is particularly close with the Clinton family. She chaired Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign in the state, and Tuesday will mark Bill Clinton’s first campaign stop of 2014. Asked about Sen. Paul’s remarks, Grimes said that the former president “has been a friend of my family for many years.”
But Paul didn’t just name-check Clinton and Lewinsky and move on.
“Kentucky, we’re not quite Hollywood as far as accepting sort of different kind of things like that. Woody Allen is apparently a big contributor of [Grimes], too. Woody Allen has been now accused of, you know, having relations with his children,” Paul said. “That’s not really acceptable in Kentucky. And I think she has to decide whether she’s representing Kentucky or Hollywood.”
This isn’t the first time Paul has mentioned the reignited Woody Allen scandal (the details of which Paul does at least slightly mischaracterize). In an early February radio appearance on Laura Ingraham’s show, Paul accused Democrats of hypocrisy for calling themselves “the great saviors of women in the workplace.” He went on:
“Look at a Woody Allen, who is a big Democrat giver across the country, whose 7-year-old girl described what he did to her. And yet nobody in Hollywood blinks an eye and says he’s still our big pal. We love Woody Allen. He’s a great giver to Democrat causes. And really there should be a social shunning of somebody who would do something like that, if not prison.”
Allen isn’t really a big Democratic donor. He gave Grimes $500 last fall, and has otherwise only donated money sporadically since 1990. Grimes says that the sexual allegations around Allen are for the courts to decide. But with Paul trying to help boost the Republican Party’s chances with women, it makes sense that he’d try to tie his opponents to men embroiled in scandal — not just Clinton.
The Kentucky Republican Party is going after Grimes on Allen as well. Grimes, the state party’s communications director said last month, should return Allen’s donation if she “really cares about standing up for Kentucky women.” If she doesn’t, “we can only assume she either condones sexual harassment and disgustingly inappropriate behavior in the workplace, or she’s more concerned with her liberal allies’ campaign cash than the women of Kentucky.”
The Perverted, Amoral Hollywood trope feels dated. And it seems especially odd coming from a potential 2016 presidential candidate who wants to win over young people, namely Silicon Valley’s libertarians. But this early on in what’s sure to be an aggressive 2016 campaign, it makes sense for Paul to throw whatever he’s got at the wall and see what sticks, especially when he’s tied to a party that 55 percent of Americans say doesn’t understand women. So far, he seems to think that this is working.