How Clintonian: Bob Filner is going to parry like it’s 1998

SAN DIEGO — Late last week, Mayor Bob Filner was playing the Hollywood card when it comes to the multiple sexual harassment allegations against him. Filner said he had a problem, pleaded for forgiveness and vowed to get therapy. Hey, it paid off for Robert Downey Jr.

That didn’t stop the bleeding. Six of the nine San Diego City Council members now want him out, as do Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez — the city’s de facto labor boss — and Congresswoman Susan Davis, who served many years with Filner in the House. No one seems to have the mayor’s back except for Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who somehow thinks the mayor is courageous.

So a new week has dawned, and with it a new strategy. Filner now says that wasn’t sex harassment — that was him berating people for not meeting his high standards. Filner’s allies also are seeding comment sections and social media with the idea that he’s the victim of an orchestrated conspiracy.

How downright Clintonian! Bob Filner is going to parry like it’s 1998.

No, Bob Filner is not Bill Clinton — but Bill would definitely approve of his tactics

gI_125909_Twit_Pic_Clinton_EndorsementOf course, Filner’s alleged serial groping is different in key ways than Clinton’s scandal. With Clinton, the focus was on his consensual sexual relations with intern-turned-aide Monica Lewinsky. (No one remembers this, but Bill was somewhat credibly accused of groping by Kathleen Willey and also accused, with marginal credibility, of rape by Juanita Broderick.) Filner’s groping is unwanted, allegedly focused on female aides, favor-seekers and constituents naive enough to sit with him alone in a room. There will be actual victims testifying against Filner if this follows the normal arc of high-profile sex harassment cases.

But in Filner’s basic strategy, the Clinton playbook plainly has been consulted. Clinton said there was no real scandal, his critics are corrupt and the women accusing him of things are far from saints.

This is from an op-ed from Filner that is running in Tuesday’s U-T San Diego. Loads of Clinton vibes:

“I have acknowledged that at times I have treated the people with whom I work poorly. I am impatient and demanding. My aggressive style of fighting for the underdog has allowed me to be successful in the past. As a Congressman, my ‘rattle-the-cages’ approach helped me champion many causes — from support for our returning veterans to pay equity in our workforce. As mayor, I have very high expectations for our City, and when people I’m counting on don’t perform, I get upset. I now recognize that approach has been seen by some as disrespectful.

“However, there’s a big difference between being a difficult guy to work for and being guilty of sexual harassment …”

Groan: ‘Do you want a guy who sleeps with you or with biz community?’

That’s the official Filner spin. Here’s the unofficial Filner spin seen on social media:

“So, do you want a guy who wants to sleep with you, or a guy who wants to sleep with the business community?

“Anonymous sexual allegations designed to eliminate strong politicians are nothing new. Sex used to be private, but now, after Clinton, it’s public. Whoever would replace Filner, the progressive community will not get a better mayor.

“Without Filner, a strong leader (likely on testosterone replacement therapy), we will fail as a City, and the region will likely collapse as the inner city becomes an isolated threat to the rest of the county.

“If the progressives disintegrate instead of uniting behind their mayor, then our opponents win. This is classic Machiavellian divide and conquer, make your enemies fight among themselves, and you need not fear them.

“I like Donna Frye, but she has made a mistake representing women who would refuse to identify themselves in public. I understand her ethical stance, but unless we empower women to speak openly, to face those they fear, then we have not done justice, only slander.”

LOL — Bob Filner stands for the “empowerment” of women. Bill Clinton would get a belly laugh out of that — at least if he were off camera.

Stay tuned. This has such a classic made-for-cable-news dynamic that it should go national soon. Jeffrey Toobin! Shepard Smith! Anderson Cooper! Come on down!



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