If he hasn’t already done so, Donald Trump should place a call to Bill Clinton and say, “Thank you.” Trump should also send thank you notes to the mainstream national media and the Democratic Party, because they are the reasons that Donald Trump still has a chance to be elected president of the United States. For that matter, Trump should thank Hillary Clinton, too.
At Sunday night’s debate, Trump said he regretted making his unsavory remarks caught on tape about women, but he didn’t overdo the contrition act, because an act it would have been. He is who he is, love him, hate him, take him or leave him. In fact, so effectively did he point out the hypocrisy of the media, the Democratic Party and Hillary herself – none of whom want to talk about Bill Clinton on this subject – that by the time the debate was over, the other topics and moments were more memorable than anything said about the Trump tape.
Bill Clinton’s list of sexual dalliances – in some cases even described as rape – and all while married and while holding public office, is a lengthy one. From Gennifer Flowers to Juanita Broaddrick to Kathleen Willey to Paula Jones to Monica Lewinksy and others, Bill Clinton didn’t just talk about his conquests, real or wished for. He conquered.
Contrary to the “champion of women’s rights” crusader that Hillary likes to project as her history and mission, that wasn’t exactly her stance when husband Bill was involved. At the time, Hillary said Flowers has “got lots of problems” and was “some failed cabaret singer who doesn’t even have much of a résumé to fall back on.” She said Lewinsky was a “narcissistic loony toon.” According to Broaddrick, Hillary actually threatened her.
In fact, over the weekend as the Trump tape made the rounds, Broaddrick sent this tweet: “How many times must it be said. Actions speak louder than words. DT (Donald Trump) said bad things! HRC (Hillary Clinton) threatened me after BC (Bill Clinton) raped me.”
Paula Jones added this in a tweet, which I have edited slightly for tastefulness: “I don’t recall that Bill or Hillary has ever apologized to me and Juanita Broaddrick or Kathleen Willey yet Bill was getting (sex) under the Oval Office desk and still won a second term. UNBELIEVABLE!”
Why is this relevant 20 years later? Because if Bill Clinton was deemed fit to continue serving as president after his numerous affairs and his – let’s call it “Trump-like” – behavior was actually put into action, why isn’t Donald Trump fit to serve as president for merely bragging about what he was thinking?
The Clinton impeachment trial of 1998-99 was a big turning point for America. That’s the year that the national media, most Democrats and even some Republicans came to the conclusion that what happened with Bill Clinton was a private matter that should not disqualify him from being president of the United States. Bill Clinton’s defenders insisted that his behavior was personal, between him and his wife. Not a single Democratic U.S. senator voted guilty on either of the two charges Clinton faced.
The effort to kick Clinton out of office was a partisan witch hunt, said the Democrats, the media – and Hillary, who called it all a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” Between them, the media, the Democratic Party, and Bill and Hillary Clinton forever lowered the bar to ground level on the question of sexual behavior and attitudes and the presidency.
What Donald Trump was caught saying in a private conversation about his pursuit of a woman – a married woman, no less – was demeaning to women. His comment that as a “star” he could get away with anything is the height of braggadocio. And it’s silly to say that his comment was made 11 years ago, so he’s probably a different man today. Let’s be honest, it is doubtful there is any difference between 2005 Donald Trump and 2016 Donald Trump on that subject.
But those who support Trump already knew all that. No one who has followed Donald Trump, even for just the last 18 months, was truly shocked to hear the comments he made on that tape. They fit perfectly with the hyperbole that we hear from him when he talks of his business acumen, or even his golf game. Donald Trump is full of himself.
It is true that men should not objectify women, as the media is quick to lecture us. But that same media, on their entertainment sides (movies, TV shows, commercials, magazines and music videos) constantly present women as subjects to be objectified. The hypocrisy when it comes to this topic is unending, the responsibility or blame widely shared.
I said in this space a few months ago that, to paraphrase the old saying, if you want a friend in the Republican Party, buy a dog. Once again, several Republican officeholders announced over the weekend they were “unendorsing” Trump. The Democrats never abandon their candidates. Republicans do it in a heartbeat. I was particularly disappointed to read Sen. Rob Portman’s statement that he is no longer supporting Trump and would be voting for Mike Pence. If by that he means a write-in vote, he should just announce it for what it is, a vote for Hillary Clinton.
So many of the statements criticizing Trump include the words, “As the father of daughters, I am disgusted…” and so on. And yet, most of those same fathers would likely – or have at some point – shove their daughters to Bill Clinton’s side to have their picture taken with him.
Most Trump supporters will stick with him. What does it say about Hillary Clinton when so many agree that Donald Trump, on a personal level, is a boorish lout, but that he would still be a better president than Hillary Clinton? “Why aren’t I leading by 50 points?” Hillary has famously wondered aloud. Good question.
Against all odds, this race is still not over. Hillary is likely to get a bounce in the polls – maybe as much as 8 or 10 points – from the Trump tape. But it will get close again, despite what will likely be a constant drip of new, unsavory revelations about Donald Trump that are clearly coordinated between the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. and the Clinton campaign.
But anyone who has ever told us that Bill Clinton was a good or even great president in spite of his personal shortcomings with women cannot criticize Donald Trump on that same subject. At least not with a straight face. Especially Hillary.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.