Trump Is Missing An Important Criticism Of Hillary By Fixating On The Wrong Part Of Bill Clinton’s Past

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald “Nobody Respects Women More Than Me” Trump, upped his attacks on Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs at a rally in Spokane, Washington earlier this week, surprising literally no one. Long, long ago, back when there was still some dim hope that the Republican party would manage to nominate someone slightly more sane (relatively anyway; goddamn, the bar has gotten low around here), the business mogul declared the former president’s murky past “fair game,” which, in itself, was a valid statement. But, of course, being the ginormous, misogynistic man-child he is, Trump managed to take a fair game and make it not only an unfair one, but also a highly unproductive one — he’s been attacking Clinton’s history of stepping out on his marriage from the least relevant angle, and one that, frankly, isn’t nearly as damning to Hillary as the angle he should take.

On Monday, Trump sparred with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo in a phone interview about his vocal criticisms of Bill’s infidelity. “Most of them … see it as a distraction, they see it as hypocritical coming from you, and mostly they see it as potential proof that you may have no real ideas to offer as president,” Cuomo told Trump, who then responded with the characteristic claim that Hillary Clinton herself would not be “good for women,” ranted about how Bill’s infidelity actually “is a big thing,” and then, ultimately, made perhaps the first legitimate point of his whole presidential campaign by citing Bill’s alleged abuse toward women while in office.

But unfortunately, it is this valid aspect of Bill’s dark past that Trump fails to focus on, for the most part, instead rambling about Bill’s consensual affairs.

When he does very childishly cite the allegations of abuse against Bill, it’s painfully obvious that Trump does so not to give credence nor to be an ally to sexual assault victims, but to spit in Hillary’s face and spin these scandals into political leverage. After all, he only brings up Bill’s affairs and sexual abuse allegations when rightfully charged with misogyny by Hillary, or as a means to trash talk the married couple for his own gain without ever discussing the overarching issue of sexual assault and stigma that victims face.

Let’s also not forget how he never took issue with Bill’s past prior to the 2016 election. You might even say Trump was pretty good friends with the married couple back in the day, Exhibit A of this being the picture of the four having a good time at his 2005 wedding, embedded below.

Yes, aspects of Bill Clinton’s past are relevant to Hillary Clinton — but only in terms of how she, as an individual, has chosen to discuss and respond to them. After all, her presidential campaign has, on multiple occasions, claimed to stand with sexual assault victims and deem them all worth listening to.

However, Bill Clinton’s consensual extramarital affairs should be recognized as irrelevant to Hillary’s presidential bid. That Trump holds Hillary accountable for Bill’s personal decisions, rather than being critical of Hillary’s own behavior, indicate that Trump perceives her as inherently bound to her husband rather than as an individual, which might have something to do with that “penchant for sexism” Hillary was talking about, back in December.

To the point: Trump would be making relevant, valid, and even important claims if he quit chastising Bill, who, in an ideal world, would have a lot less to do with his wife’s presidential campaign, and were instead more critical of Hillary for repeatedly dismissing her husband’s alleged victims.

It wasn’t too long ago that a protester attended a Hillary rally in December and asked: “You recently came out to say that all rape victims should be believed. But would you say that about Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Paula Jones? Should we believe them as well?” Hillary’s response: “Well, I would say that everybody should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence.”

See for yourself in the video below.

Hillary’s response might have been a valid, albeit unsympathetic and dismissive, one, were it not for the unsettling amount of evidence that lines up with Broaddrick’s accusations. It’s difficult not to view Clinton’s statements supporting sexual assault victims as mere pandering when she so consistently refuses to listen to the voices of alleged victims of her husband, whom it doesn’t serve her to listen to.

And at the end of the day, Death and Taxes writer Jamie Peck made a good point back in January when she wrote, regarding Hillary’s marriage to Bill:

[W]hat would you do if your husband was accused of sexual assault by multiple women? […] [W]ould you call them liars against all statistical odds and continue benefiting from your powerful political marriage? […] If any other high-up staffer in her campaign were accused of rape, I can only imagine he’d be fired immediately.

hillary clinton donald trump bill clinton
CREDIT: Hillary for America/Flickr

Granted, it’s also not unlikely that accusations against Bill have political motivations attached to them. But in the same vein, let’s not even pretend that there isn’t inherent classism in the way we tend to look at rape, sympathizing with and exonerating the wealthy and successful, no matter how many women accuse them, until a confession comes from their own lips. Understandably, no one wants to believe a former leader of their nation is a rapist, but if you truly intend to be an ally to and give all victims a chance, you can’t selectively listen to some while dismissing others without a second thought.

And statistically speaking, given the very low rates of dishonest victims, I see little harm in at least giving Bill’s accusers a listen.

At any rate, any moral high ground Trump might have in this whole debacle is deeply diminished not only by his very real penchant for sexism toward both women in general and lately, Hillary in particular, but by his own string of infidelities and alleged sexual abuse of ex-wife Ivana Trump. General election campaigning is slated to start within a few months, and it’s already looking like a wild ride.