[guest post by Dana]
Because this campaign season seems so unlike any other, with its endless array of GOP candidates, an all out war within the Republican party, and Hillary Clinton coming back for a second round, I guess it really shouldn’t be surprising that Bill Clinton has now become the focal point of the silly season. And while we know that he loves nothing more than being the center of attention, I don’t think this particular kind of attention is what he had in mind.
Several days ago, Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced that beginning in January, Bill Clinton will hit the campaign trail to stump for his wife.
GOP front runner Donald Trump, already having experienced Hillary Clinton accuse him of having a “penchant for sexism” after his “schlonged” comment about her, responded to the announcement by throwing Hillary’s own words back at her and simultaneously hitting Bill Clinton with his past inappropriate sexual behavior toward women. Yes, he went there:
Hillary Clinton has announced that she is letting her husband out to campaign but HE’S DEMONSTRATED A PENCHANT FOR SEXISM, so inappropriate!
While Trump is a bombastic showman who stands for, well, Donald Trump, in light of Bill Clinton’s well known historical abuse of women, it’s easy to see which of these two men has a real penchant for sexism – and worse, far worse. Now the question being bandied about is whether an ex-president’s misconduct is fair game for attack as he takes to the stage to campaign for his wife. The same wife who enabled her ex-president husband’s gross sexual misconduct.
Over at the Washington Post, Ruth Marcus opines that yes, Bill Clinton’s history is fair game in the campaign. This in spite of her extreme distaste for Trump:
Well, Bill Clinton has a penchant for something. He had a successful presidency — with an ugly blot. “Sexism” isn’t the precise word for his predatory behavior toward women or his inexcusable relationship with a 22-year-old intern. Yet in the larger scheme of things, Bill Clinton’s conduct toward women is far worse than any of the offensive things that Trump has said.
Trump has smeared women because of their looks. Clinton has preyed on them, and in a workplace setting where he was by far the superior. That is uncomfortable for Clinton supporters but it is unavoidably true.
Which leads to the next question: What is the relevance of Bill Clinton’s conduct for Hillary Clinton’s campaign? Ordinarily, I would argue that the sins of the husband should not be visited on the wife. What Bill Clinton did counts against him, not her, and I would include in that her decision to stick with him. What happens inside a marriage is the couple’s business, and no one else’s, even when both halves crave the presidency.
But Hillary Clinton has made two moves that lead me, gulp, to agree with Trump on the “fair game” front. She is (smartly) using her husband as a campaign surrogate, and simultaneously (correctly) calling Trump sexist.
These moves open a dangerous door. It should surprise no one that Trump has barged right through it.
Why anyone would be surprised by anything Trump does is beyond me. If there is a door to break down, he will break it down. If there is a window to shatter, he will shatter it. If there is an unspoken taboo in political campaigning, in this case using Bill Clinton’s mistreatment of women as a weapon against Hillary Clinton, Trump will clumsily wield that weapon without a second thought.
In light of that, if you were wondering how the media will handle Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct being in the news again, as well as being used against his wife’s run for the presidency, wonder no more:
Donald Trump on Saturday night slammed Hillary Clinton by citing her husband’s history of marital infidelity and alleged sexual misconduct, escalating the increasingly personal feud between the GOP front-runner and the leading Democratic presidential candidate.
“You mention Monica Lewinsky,” Guthrie asked. “Are you saying an alleged extra-marital affair, that of course he has now admitted, is that fair game?”
“Is it alleged? I don’t think that’s alleged,” Trump pounced.
“No, he’s admitted it, he’s admitted it,” Guthrie agreed.
“If he’s admitted it, you don’t have to use the word alleged,” Trump replied.
“Right, exactly,” Guthrie said. “Are you saying an extramarital affair by Bill Clinton is fair game, is something that you think should be in the campaign?”