Former POTUS Bill Clinton is still popular and highly regarded, not just in America, but around the world. Various colleges and universities have awarded “Clinton honorary degrees”, including Doctorate of Law degrees. In 2011, President Michel Martelly of Haiti awarded Clinton with the National Order of Honour and Merit to the rank of Grand Cross “for his various initiatives in Haiti and especially his high contribution to the reconstruction of the country after the earthquake of January 12, 2010”. In November 2013, Clinton was awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by then President Barack Obama.
But mention Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and many people under the age of 30 will only have a vague idea of some sex scandal. People are forgetful, but we must also give credit to Bill Clinton for all the good that he had done. I won’t go into all the lurid details of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair (you can easily find them online), but I will focus on the noose which his enemies had tried to tighten around his neck, the final blow which almost killed his political career mid-term and the surprising who or what that saved Bill Clinton from almost certain impeachment by a Republican-dominated Senate. No, it’s not his lawyers.
To begin, there has been a hail of accusations that Bill Clinton has been a “sex addict”, guilty of various degrees of sexual harassment or misconduct during his 1992 and 1996 election campaigns. Half a dozen women started talking to the media. Among them was former Miss Arkansas (1958) Myra Belle Miller alias Sally Purdue who made the most frivolous complaint that Clinton had said that as governor of Arkansas, he couldn’t guarantee her safety if she showed her legs like that.
Several others followed, including Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey, Elizabeth Ward Gracen and Juanita Broaddrick. Americans were flabbergasted. Some were amused at how the leader of the free world could be consumed by accusations of sexual misconduct. Thanks to Hillary Clinton who ran a Nuts & Sluts campaign to dig up the women’s past and shame them, Bill Clinton managed to dodged the accusations which were often not backed by substantial evidence.
But Clinton would soon meet his nemesis – Monica Lewinsky. The big difference here, it was a current case. Their sexual relationship lasted between 1995 and 1997. Clinton ended a televised speech in late January 1998 with the statement that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.”
They got him this time. Lewinsky had evidence in the form of a stained dress. Clinton had no choice but to confess, not just to his “inappropriate relationship” with Monica Lewinsky but also the fact that he had lied. Further investigation led to charges of perjury and to the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998 by the U.S. House of Representatives. At the start of the impeachment proceedings, many observers were almost certain that Clinton was a goner. But the Clintons would put up a fierce fight and a very dirty and creative one at that.
Hillary Clinton’s Nuts & Sluts campaign targeted the women. There has to be one targeting the men as well. They engaged Larry Flynt, a publisher of hardcore pornography, Hustler.
Flynt sponsored a $85,000 full-page ad in the Washington Post, offering up to US$1 million for “documentary evidence of illicit sexual relations” with a member of Congress or other high-ranking government official. It may sound laughable to most people, but Flynt’s advertisement unleashed an army of sleaze investigators. New scandals broke out. Senators and Congressmen who appeared to be squeaky clean in public seemed capable of doing a Bill Clinton too.
One Congressman was said to be so nervous that he confessed all his infidelities to his wife even though he was not targeted. Anyone who attacked Clinton was fair game, including journalists and TV hosts. Sure enough, attacks against Clinton began to subside. In February 1999, the Republican-majority Senate voted to acquit Clinton!
Two tricks from the book can be identified here. One is 釜底抽薪and the other is 打草惊蛇. 釜底抽薪 means to avoid attacking the enemy head-on but weakening him in another area to make him lose the will or ability to fight. 打草惊蛇 is to sound a warning to someone who can hurt you that you can hurt him too. Larry Flynt had unknowingly employed two dirty ancient Chinese tricks.
For more dirty tricks used in ancient China, check out my book.