With Barack Obama dogged by multiple scandals – from Benghazi to NSA surveillance to rampant IRS abuses – many Americans are asking whether he can make it through his second term.

Likewise, with sex scandals in the news – from ex-congressman Anthony Weiner to former New York governor Eliot Spitzer to San Diego Mayor Bob Filner – many are asking how such disgraced leaders can possibly believe they can re-assume positions of power and public trust.

The approaching anniversary of one of the most extraordinary presidential scandals in history may well hold the answer to both questions.

Fifteen years ago, perhaps the most serious allegation ever levied against a sitting U.S. president – a nationally televised accusation of forcible rape, widely regarded by the public as credible – came to light. Yet Bill Clinton not only survived the allegation, he also survived an impeachment that included other sexually lurid charges and went on to become the beloved elder statesman of the Democratic Party.

‘I told him no’

It was Juanita Broaddrick who in 1998 first went public with the story of alleged rape two decades earlier, reportedly on April 25, 1978. In February 1999, she told her story to a national TV audience on “Dateline NBC” to Emmy-winning reporter Lisa Myers.

Broaddrick said she was at a conference in Little Rock, Ark., when Clinton approached her in her hotel room. He “turned me around and started kissing me, and that was a real shock. I first pushed him away. I just told him ‘no.’ … He trie[d] to kiss me again. He starts biting on my lip. … And then he forced me down on the bed. I just was very frightened. I tried to get away from him. I told him ‘no.’ … He wouldn’t listen.”

At the time the story appeared, the Washington Post reported that it had interviewed several of Broaddrick’s friends, including Norma Kelsey, who “said she saw Broaddrick’s swollen lip and torn pantyhose that day.”

In “Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine,” author and feminist Candice E. Jackson devotes an entire chapter to “The Rape of Juanita Broaddrick.”

After providing the background to the incident – Broaddrick had volunteered to help in Clinton’s gubernatorial race and had accepted, albeit reluctantly, Clinton’s suggestion they meet in her hotel room instead of the hotel’s coffee shop that was “crawling” with reporters – the author lays out Broaddrick’s chilling account:

She felt “a little bit uneasy” meeting him in her hotel room, but felt a “real friendship toward this man” and didn’t feel any “danger” in him coming to her room. When Clinton arrived she had coffee ready on a little table under a window overlooking a river. Then “he came around me and sort of put his arm over my shoulder to point to this little building and he said he was real interested if he became governor to restore that little building and then all of a sudden, he turned me around and started kissing me. And that was a real shock.” Broaddrick pushed him away and said, “No, please don’t do that” and told Clinton she was married. But he tried to kiss her again. This time he bit her upper lip. She tried to pull away from him but he forced her onto the bed. “And I just was very frightened, and I tried to get away from him and I told him ‘No,’ that I didn’t want this to happen, but he wouldn’t listen to me.” But he “was such a different person at that moment, he was just a vicious awful person.” At some point she stopped resisting. She explained, “It was a real panicky, panicky situation. I was even to the point where I was getting very noisy, you know, yelling to ‘Please stop.’ And that’s when he pressed down on my right shoulder and he would bite my lip.”

Read the transcript of the NBC interview with Broaddrick and watch the entire broadcast below:

Clinton didn’t linger long afterward. “When everything was over with, he got up and straightened himself, and I was crying at the moment and he walks to the door, and calmly puts on his sunglasses. And before he goes out the door he says, ‘You better get some ice on that.’ And he turned and went out the door.” The whole encounter lasted less than 30 minutes, but it changed Juanita Broaddrick’s life forever.

When questioned by an interviewer, “Is there any way at all that Bill Clinton could have thought that this was consensual?” Juanita Broaddrick answered, “No. Not with what I told him, and with how I tried to push him away. It was not consensual.” The interviewer, NBC’s Lisa Myers, pressed for specificity. “You’re saying that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted you, that he raped you?” Broaddrick answered, “Yes.”

Broaddrick’s friend Norma said that when she left their shared hotel room that morning, Broaddrick had told her that she planned to meet with Clinton. When Norma called around lunchtime, however, Broaddrick sounded so upset that Norma returned to the room to find Broaddrick’s lip and mouth badly swollen and her pantyhose ripped off. Broaddrick told Norma that Clinton had sexually assaulted her.

… David Broaddrick recalls that her lip was “black” and “mentally she was in bad shape.” Broaddrick told three other friends soon after the attack, all of whom vouch for her story.

Broaddrick said she didn’t talk about her experience earlier because she just didn’t think anyone would believe her. Clinton attorney David Kendall denied Broaddrick’s allegations, characterizing them as “absolutely false.”

After the NBC broadcast aired, a public opinion poll by Zogby International showed that most Americans either believed Clinton was guilty of the 1978 rape of Broaddrick or said more information was needed to make a true judgment.

Below, Juanita Broaddrick tells Sean Hannity on his Fox News show about her private encounter with Hillary Clinton. She told Hannity, “I could have passed out at that moment”:

‘Good historians’

Today, news headlines almost daily include political sex scandals, including these recent instances:

Illinois-based clinical psychologist Dr. Dathan Paterno blames the arrogant attitude displayed by today’s politician-perpetrators directly on Clinton.

“Modern-era politicians like Weiner, Spitzer and Filner are nothing if not good historians. They merely have to recall the survival of their patron sinner Bill Clinton and realize that all scandals are eminently survivable – for liberals, that is. All that is required is for the leftist band of brothers – media, political allies, and the voters who most aggressively and eagerly suck at the government teat – to distract, rationalize, and minimize,” Paterno said.

“Then the power carries on, transfers and remains,” he said. The men who use and abuse women in these ways retain their power and money. Only the victims are left broken, and in debt and depression. Their voices are quiet.”

When it comes to alleged Clinton victims, Broaddrick is hardly alone. The list of women who accused Clinton of sexual misdeeds reads like a beauty pageant lineup, including: Elizabeth Ward, Miss America 1981; Sally Miller Perdue, former Miss Arkansas; Gennifer Flowers, an aspiring singer and nightclub performer; Monica Lewinsky, a Beverly Hills prep school daughter of a divorced doctor and reporter. Each had life experiences that led to a vulnerability that some say predators can identify.

WND reached out to many of the women in the Clinton saga, all of whom had one thing in common: They still are trying to put the ordeal behind them.

One, who did not want her name to be used, said Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin, Weiner’s wife and close assistant to Hillary Clinton, aren’t “standing by their men” as is commonly said. Rather, they’re standing on the heads of the women their husbands have victimized.

The worst thing that could happen to women in America who have been similarly victimized, she added, is for Hillary to be elected president.

Her fear of what the media have done to her personally, emotionally and financially is the reason she does not want to talk any more and does not speak publicly.

She said the Clintons have fundamentally changed the way media cover politics.

‘The biggest victim’

David Spady, a California-based political strategist, said the advent of Hillary Clinton vying for president means more of the same.

“When Hillary Clinton got away with blaming a ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ for Bill’s indiscretions, it set the stage for politicians like Filner, Weiner and Spitzer to simply spin their way out of trouble with female voters by becoming victims.” Spady said.

“If Hillary were elected president,” he added, “the biggest victim would be the truth.”

The author Jackson agrees, citing Clinton tactics such as “assembling a smear team to attack a grief-stricken widow (Kathleen Willey), threatening a reporter for her research into an Arkansas health care scandal, and hiring private investigators to bully an ex-flame’s family members.”

She sees an “undeniable link” between the Clintons’ liberal beliefs and misogynistic behavior. She further views Hillary as the “eager accomplice that might one day occupy the Oval Office.”

“If Hillary is elected,” said one of the women allegedly victimized by Clinton, “these men will continue to use their power and money to hurt women. Hillary was complicit in all of the intimidation, terror and cover-up that happened to these women, and the women abused by politicians since then have the Clintons – both of them – to thank. That’s just how the Clintons, and now the Democrat machine, roll.”

Meanwhile, as Barack Obama scoffs that his own scandals are “phony” and disgraced public servants like Weiner and Spitzer confidently pursue high office, the man who blazed their trail – Bill Clinton – now sits at the pinnacle of the Democratic power structure.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.