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"Has nothing changed for Democratic Party leaders in 42 years? It's almost as though the #MeToo era, two and a half years at most, the briefest of lights in two dark generations, never occurred at all." (Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT)

From Juanita Broaddrick to Tara Reade: In Forty Years Has Nothing Changed at All?

"If Christine Blasey Ford is credible, then Tara Reade is credible at the very least—and so is Juanita Broaddrick."

Thomas Neuburger

Hidden among the grease and grime of the Tara Reade rape discussion — "Should we believe her? To what extent? Would Biden really do such a thing? But what if a public discussion leads to Trump's reelection?" — lies the shadow of another rape accusation.

Undiscussed, rarely brought up, as carefully hidden or moreso by the Democratic Party–supporting media as the Tara Reade story was, stands the rape charge by Juanita Broaddrick against 32-year-old Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton, a rape said to have occurred in 1978.

The facts are these (source: a nicely researched 2017 piece by Dylan Mathews at Vox). First, this is what Broaddrick says happened:

In 1978, Broaddrick was volunteering for Clinton's gubernatorial campaign, and claims she met him when he visited his campaign office in her home town of Van Buren, Arkansas, that April. She says he then invited her to visit his office in Little Rock, which Broaddrick agreed to do a week later, when she was in the state Capitol anyway for a conference of nursing home administrators. Once she was at a hotel in Little Rock, she claims Clinton told her that he wasn't going to the campaign headquarters and offered to meet her in her hotel lobby coffee shop instead. Once he arrived, she says he called her room and suggested that they have coffee there, since the lobby had too many reporters. Broaddrick says she agreed.

Then according to a 1999 Washington Post story:

As she tells the story, they spent only a few minutes chatting by the window -- Clinton pointed to an old jail he wanted to renovate if he became governor -- before he began kissing her. She resisted his advances, she said, but soon he pulled her back onto the bed and forcibly had sex with her. She said she did not scream because everything happened so quickly. Her upper lip was bruised and swollen after the encounter because, she said, he had grabbed onto it with his mouth.

"The last thing he said to me was, 'You better get some ice for that.' And he put on his sunglasses and walked out the door," she recalled.

Broaddrick's story has no third-party witness, but quite a lot of contemporaneous corroboration:

  • The director at the nursing home where Broaddrick worked told reporters "that she entered the hotel room shortly after the assault allegedly took place, and 'found Mrs. Broaddrick crying and in 'a state of shock.' Her upper lip was puffed out and blue, and appeared to have been hit.' Kelsey elaborated to the New York Times, "She told me he forced himself on her, forced her to have intercourse."
  • In 1999, three of Broaddrick's friends told NBC News on camera that Broaddrick told them at the time that Bill Clinton had raped her.
  • In addition, David Broaddrick "with whom Broaddrick was having an affair ... also NBC that Broaddrick's top lip was black after the alleged incident, and that she told him, 'that she had been raped by Bill Clinton.'"

The Other Side

Opposed to this evidence lie the usual adversarial questions about why Broaddrick delayed so long to say something, why she chose the time she did to come forward, and what her underlying motives might have been. Bill Clinton was being impeached for the Monica Lewinski affair — pilloried, really, by Ken Starr's special prosecutor's office — when Broaddrick's story was leaked to the public.

The response to this has been that Broaddrick, according to Vox, "had been courted to come forward about the allegations by Clinton enemies for years," and refused many pleas that she speak out.

"She only came forward after she was interviewed by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's office and her allegation leaked. Broaddrick told the [Wall Street] Journal [here] that NBC News reporter Lisa Myers pursued her for nearly a year before she agreed to an interview, and that she came forward because she wanted to rebut false rumors circulating after her statements to prosecutors (like that David Broaddrick had accepted hush money from the Clintons in exchange for silence)."

In short, if Vox's account is correct, Broaddrick was almost literally the most reluctant of reluctant witnesses at a time when Bill Clinton was beset on all sides with eager ones.

Did Hillary Clinton Weigh In?

It's an ugly story, both in the context in which it occurred — the dubiously moral, hypocritical Republican Party assaulting a presidency it never considered legitimate using charges they themselves were guilty of at the time — and in the Broaddrick story itself.

And the ugliness continued, according to Broaddrick, shortly after the event. In a 1999 interview she gave to the Drudge Report and quoted by Vox, Broaddrick said that "mere weeks after the alleged [1978] assault, Hillary Clinton had tried to thank her for her silence on the matter at a political rally." Broaddrick:

She came directly to me as soon as she hit the door. I had been there only a few minutes, I only wanted to make an appearance and leave. She caught me and took my hand and said 'I am so happy to meet you. I want you to know that we appreciate everything you do for Bill.'

Here her husband had just done this to me, and she was coming up to thank me? It was scary...I started to turn away and she held onto my hand and reiterated her phrase -- looking less friendly and repeated her statement----'Everything you do for Bill'. I said nothing. She wasn't letting me get away until she made her point. She talked low, the smile faded on the second thank you. I just released her hand from mine and left the gathering.

No one knows for sure what happened between Broaddrick and Bill Clinton in the hotel room save Broaddrick and Clinton himself, just as no one but Broaddrick and Hillary Clinton knows for sure what passed between them at the rally just a few weeks later — and only Clinton herself knows for sure what she meant to convey, regardless of how Broaddrick took it.

But if Christine Blasey Ford is credible (in my opinion, eminently so), then Tara Reade is credible at the very least — and so is Juanita Broaddrick.

The #MeToo Era: The Briefest of Lights in 40 Years of Darkness

Why bring this up? Because the alleged Broaddrick rape occurred in 1978 — and here we are, in 2020, with many of the same actors, all with the same loyalties, using much the same tactics to silence and sidestep the consequences of almost the same (alleged) crime, the forceable rape of a low-level female political associate by a high-level male with a history of intruding on women.

Juanita Broaddrick, 1978; Cover-up continuing, 2020

Tara Reade, 1993; Cover-up continuing, 2020

Has nothing changed for Democratic Party leaders in those 42 years?

It's almost as though the #MeToo era, two and a half years at most, the briefest of lights in two dark generations, never occurred at all.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Thomas Neuburger

Thomas Neuburger

Thomas Neuburger is an essayist, poet and story writer. He has published political analysis under the pen name Gaius Publius since 2010.

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