“Ken Starr was right” is currently trending on Twitter after the New York Times came out with a new op-ed Sunday titled, “What if Ken Starr was Right?”

In the piece, writer Ross Douthat first puts forth “the longstanding liberal narrative about Bill Clinton,” in which he was “only guilty of being a horndog, his affairs were nobody’s business but his family’s, and oral sex with Monica Lewinsky was a small thing that should never have put his presidency in peril.”

In today’s atmosphere of outrage over sexual misconduct, that particular narrative could not hold up.

The writer insists that Kenneth Starr and the Republicans are still dismissed as partisan witch hunters, “But liberals might be willing to concede that the Lewinsky affair was a pretty big deal morally, a clear abuse of sexual power, for which Clinton probably should have been pressured to resign.”

He goes on to note, “I have never been a Clinton hater; indeed, I’ve always been a little mystified by the scale of Republican dislike for the most centrist of recent Democratic leaders.” But Douthat admits that he does believe that Clinton “should have stepped down when the Lewinsky affair came to light, but that the Republican effort to impeach him was a hopeless attempt to legislate against dishonor.”

Douthat even went so far as to look of the long-ago Starr Report and read about the many scandals, such as Troopergate and Whitewater, which plagued Clinton during his first term.

He finally comes to this conclusion: “After doing all this reading, I’m not sure my reasonable middle ground is actually reasonable. It may be that the conservatives of the 1990s were simply right about Clinton, that once he failed to resign he really deserved to be impeached.”

Calling the Clinton affairs “extraordinarily sordid”, the writer further concedes, “everything connected to Clinton’s priapism was bad: the use of the perks of office to procure women, willing and unwilling; the frequent use of that same power to buy silence and bully victims; and yes, the brazen public lies and perjury.”

He recalls that Troopergate, “in which Arkansas state troopers claimed to have served as Clinton’s panderers and been offered jobs to buy their silence, is often recalled as just a right-wing hit job.” Douthat goes on to point to the  Los Angeles Times’ accurate reporting on the allegations and says, “Stephanopoulos’s portrayal of Clinton’s behavior in the White House when the story broke, the story seems like it was probably mostly true.”

“They had an opportunity, with Al Gore waiting in the wings, to show a predator the door and establish some moral common ground for a polarizing country,” says Douthat, adding, “And what they did instead — turning their party into an accessory to Clinton’s appetites, shamelessly abandoning feminist principle, smearing victims and blithely ignoring his most credible accuser, all because Republicans funded the investigations and they’re prudes and it’s all just Sexual McCarthyism— feels in the cold clarity of hindsight like a great act of partisan deformation.”

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