Thursday, October 13, 2016

Why The #Trump Attacks On Bill Clinton Will Backfire

Trump's campaign is attacking Bill Clinton to parry the charges against Trump himself. As I write this Slate has clocked nine allegations against Trump of sexual assault, and of the 20 sexual harassment claims against Trump's company the media has reported on, I found one that involves Trump personally harassing an employee. None of this includes the stories about him bragging that he entered women's dressing rooms at beauty pageants to see the naked occupants. Or the allegation that he did the same to people at Miss Teen USA pageants, some of whom were as young as 15. Or the lawsuit filed in federal court this year that charges Trump with child rape.

But back to Bill Clinton.

The right is going to continue using the charges against him to attack Hillary Clinton. And those charges are serious; we've known about them for years, and they include rape and sexual assault as well. It is a known, proven, completely uncontroversial fact that Bill Clinton is a cruddy human being and a terrible husband. If the worst of the charges against him are true, he's a monster.

The left's only argument is that Bill Clinton is not running for president. Hillary is actually the one on the ticket. Weird how that is.

"He'll be back in the White House!" rightwingers say. Yes, but there are public tours of the White House as well. Being in the actual building is not the same as being president.

"He'll be a powerful adviser!" they'll add. And that's true. But if we're counting those you have to remember that Donald Trump's presidency will dramatically increase the pull of the neo-Nazi and white nationalist movements in American politics. His candidacy already has.

It has to be repeated here: Hillary Clinton, not Bill, is running for president of the United States. And she's running against Donald Trump.

Their ultimate attack is on Hillary's character. She's been an enabler of her husband for many years. She defended him and disparaged his attackers. They think that is their strongest argument. But that's exactly where they are wrong.

Here's what the Trump team will remind voters, again and again: Hillary Clinton married a bad person.

After marrying this awful person, Hillary Clinton spent decades trying to keep her family together and build her own career and her own identity. She did it under the kind of scrutiny that would destroy most people. She did it while negotiating the fact that the person she married was the most influential person in the very industry in which she was working. He was also literally the most powerful man in the world.

Her story, while unique, is just an insanely exaggerated version of the kind of stories women across the country understand. You marry a bad person, and sometimes that fact compromises the rest of your life... whether or not you get a divorce. It will certainly affect your career. It might also affect your health, your family, and your relationships with everyone around you. You will pay for it forever.

A woman in a bad marriage has no good options, and everyone feels free to second-guess her choices and question her motives. Did she believe him at all the wrong times or doubt him at all the wrong times? Did she stay, and therefore she's a wimp and maybe a gold-digger? Or did she leave, and now she's responsible for a broken home? We have seen a dismal parade of men confessing their misdeeds in press conferences while their wives stood beside them, perfectly dressed and silent, manikin-faced and much, much more humiliated than the jackasses they loved.

And sometimes, very occasionally, a person is strong enough and smart enough and works hard enough to become the most well-qualified person for the hardest job in the American government. In spite of everything. And she stands on a stage next to a pile of wasted skin who has never had a difficult day in his life, a creature of every kind of vice that rich and powerful men can indulge in with no consequences. And she has to account for every one of her own actions during the worst times in her life, while he - this man who has obviously done all the damage he could to his three marriages - claims to fight for what conservatives call decency and conservatives call traditional values.

They will try to punish Hillary Clinton for everything she did, and suffered, and accomplished, as if she were the bad person and not her husband. But 51% of the voting public in America knows how unfair that kind of punishment is, because they have seen it themselves, up close, or heard the stories from their closest friends and relatives.

And Trump himself, and his thugs, doesn't know how badly it will burn them. Because the women in this country, that 51%, really are invisible to them. For now.

But November 8 is coming, and it will be delicious. For all of us.

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