The effectiveness of the “war on women” meme for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign took a hit this week.

Mrs. Clinton was heard chortling during a taped interview over her legal prowess in getting a lenient sentence for a man she thought was guilty of raping a 12-year-old girl. At the time, Mrs. Clinton was a young lawyer.  

Before she became the most guarded woman on the planet, Hillary Clinton talked to Roy Reed, now 84 and once a legendry southern journalist, about the case.

If you’ve ever been a reporter and dealt with scamps or scumbags in the legal profession, you instantly recognize in the speaker on the tape as being not unlike lots of lawyers you have met.  Melinda Hennenberger of the Washington Post was quoted saying: “Typical lawyer talk, but not so much lifelong defender of women and children talk.”  

What is disconcerting here is the almost warmth of Clinton’s laughter—she sounds so uncharacteristically unrehearsed—when she talks about the case.

Lloyd Grove has a good piece (from which the Hennenberger quote comes) that hits the high points:

But her interview with Reed—who is also heard laughing at points on the recording—adds a different dimension to the episode, showing her to have been a tough, aggressive lawyer going to great lengths to defend her client, even though she believed he was probably guilty.

“I had him take a polygraph, which he passed—which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs,” she is heard telling Reed, punctuating her comment with a laugh.

While the recording is problematic on political grounds, it is also ethically troubling, renowned defense attorney Gerald Shargel told The Daily Beast. “It is in bad taste,” he said. “A lawyer has an obligation to do no harm to a client and that obligation continues after the disposition of the case. To destroy the guy in the court of public opinion may run afoul of [legal ethics]. Finally, laughing about a client who got away with it? The better discretion suggests you say nothing.”

Ever high-minded, Hillary has said that her experience with this client prompted her to found the first rape hotline in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

But when rapists can get slick lawyers, they don’t really need to fear that hotline thinggy.