Donald Trump brought Bill Clinton’s accusers to a photo op before the debate because that’s where we are right now

Donald Trump took a solid, deserved beating this weekend in the media after tapes were released of him saying he likes to “grab” women by their genitals to get their attention. In response, like the classy, all-American bro that he is, Trump brought Kathleen Wiley, Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, and Kathy Shelton to a Facebook Live photo-op just hours before the debate, all to take judging eyeballs off of his own sleazy past and draw attention to former president Bill Clinton’s past. For the record, Wiley, Broaddrick, and Jones have accused Clinton of rape and harassment in the past. Shelton was a 12-year-old victim whose rapist was defended by Hillary Clinton in 1975.

All of the accusations from the women have been widely covered throughout the past two decades and they allege that they’ve been silenced by the Clinton campaign and the media. Their stories are important and should be heard, like any other woman’s. What they don’t deserve is to be paraded around by the Trump campaign to smear his opponent and distract from the fact that the Republican nominee can’t keep his dirty little thoughts to himself. It’s Trump’s way of saying: I know you are, but what am I?

It’s gross. It’s gross because it turns the idea of women being sexually assaulted into some sort of pawn to use in a political campaign — on both sides — instead of an issue that women deal with on the daily, throughout their lives. It’s not about whether Hillary enabled her husband or was in on silencing his accusers. It’s also not about how it’s very tricky to use a husband’s actions to take down his wife. It’s not even about how foul Trump’s mouth is.

It’s more about how Trump just took any chance at a civil discourse about things that matter at tonight’s debate and threw it out the window. He isn’t even ashamed or sorry about what he said. He doesn’t even seem to be all that concerned about justice for any of Clinton’s alleged victims. It’s all about trying to show people that he’s not the only one covered in filth and taking it to tabloid levels. All Clinton has to do is talk about the issues and win, but there’s no way that’s really going to happen during Sunday’s debate. There’s no way for Clinton to respond to this latest political stunt. Either she gets defensive and looks cold-hearted and calculating, or she lowers herself to discussing complicated issues like sexual assault and rape culture with a circus clown like Trump. Well played, Donald.

It would be worth being angry about if you were naive enough to think there would be a real, authentic political debate happening this close to November. But we’re talking about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump here. This is all we’ve got.