There is a batterer in the United States Senate.
This abuser's spouse has suffered repeated violent attacks, yet there has been no condemnation of this Senator's violence. Ironically, this Senator, who is one of the most controversial people in American public life today, has somehow escaped reproach for the one thing that both detractors and admirers should agree is genuinely inexcusable--domestic violence.
Who is this perpetrator of domestic violence? New York Senator Hillary Clinton.
The evidence against Ms. Clinton is strong. According to Hillary's admiring biographer Gail Sheehy, author of Hillary's Choice, one of the domestic assaults upon Bill Clinton occurred in 1993, when Hillary slashed Bill Clinton's face with her long fingernails, leaving a "mean claw mark along his jawline."
The incident was first explained as a "shaving accident" and a subsequent attempt was made to pin the blame on Socks the cat. Because of the gouge's size, neither explanation was accepted by observers. Dee Dee Myers, the White House spokeswoman at the time, later explained to Sheehy that it had been singer Barbara Streisand's visit to the White House that had sparked Hillary's jealous, violent rage.
According to Christopher Andersen, author of Bill and Hillary, Hillary also assaulted Bill on August 13, 1999, after the Monica Lewinsky revelations. Andersen writes:
"...the President...weeping, begged her forgiveness. Much of what transpired next between Bill and Hillary Clinton was plainly audible to Secret Service agents and household staff members down the hall. In the past, Hillary had thrown books and an ashtray at the President -- both hitting their mark...Hillary rose to her feet and slapped him across the face -- hard enough to leave a red mark that would be clearly visible to Secret Service agents when he left the room.
" ‘You stupid, stupid, stupid bastard,' Hillary shouted. Her words, delivered at the shrill, earsplitting level that had become familiar to White House personnel over the years, ricocheted down the corridor."
Sheehy's account of the incident is similar, adding that Hillary's friend Linda Bloodworth-Thomasen, who was staying with her husband in the private quarters nearby, "thought it was great that Hillary ‘smacked him upside the head.' "
The US Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime classifies these types of attacks--scratching, slapping, hitting, throwing objects, and inflicting bruises or lacerations--as "physical abuse" and domestic violence.
Bill Clinton handled the incidents in a manner reminiscent of the way many female victims of domestic violence did in the pre-feminist era. Ashamed, he tried to cover the incidents up, even ordering his representatives to publicly alibi his wife's violence. He probably blamed himself for "provoking" her, as if marital infidelity warrants physical assault. And he almost certainly never considered calling the police or formally charging his abuser.
The public's reaction has been of the "what did he do to set her off?" variety--a "blame the victim" mentality that would immediately be recognized and condemned were the genders of the perpetrator and victim reversed. Media coverage of the incidents has almost entirely consisted of jokes on late night TV and talk radio. In narrating these assaults, neither Sheehy nor Andersen mention ‘domestic violence' or even write disapprovingly of Hillary's attacks. Needless to say, the reaction would be quite different were it the president's wife who appeared in public with lacerations on her face.
Nor were the incidents mentioned during Hillary's 2000 Senate campaign. In fact, it was former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who was publicly pilloried as a bad spouse for his failing marriage, while the fact that his electoral opponent was a known abuser merited little or no mention.
The Clinton incidents demonstrate that, despite the overwhelming body of research which shows that men and women initiate and engage in domestic violence equally, the public still largely holds the outdated and discredited view that domestic violence is synonymous with wife-beating.
Ironically, Senator Clinton herself has spoken out on domestic violence on many occasions, and has supported the Family Violence Prevention Fund's $100 million anti-Domestic Violence campaign. The campaign's slogan is "There's No Excuse for Domestic Violence."
What's Senator Clinton's excuse?
This column first appeared on World Net Daily (5/8/02).