By Katie Gagliano
Donald Trump launched an assault against Hillary Clinton’s campaign early this week, saying her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has a “terrible record of women abuse.” The assault came in response to Mrs. Clinton’s recent statements about Trump’s sexism toward women.
Trump said Hillary Clinton couldn’t logically attack his behavior without reflecting on her husband’s previous marital indiscretions, and he said the former president’s sexual dalliances were fair game for criticism.
“If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband, with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women’s card on me, she’s wrong!” Trump wrote in a Tweet.
Bill Clinton’s infamous affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky was national news that cast a shadow over the final years of his presidency. In the time since, however, talk of Bill Clinton’s indiscretions has been limited and seldom, if ever, has it been used against Hillary Clinton while campaigning for office.
With Trump’s penchant for outrageous statements and unabashedly speaking his mind, it’s not shocking that he would be the one to break the silence.
Trump has a point: Bill Clinton’s indiscretions are fair game. They were committed while serving in the nation’s highest office and were brought to the forefront of national attention. My stance would likely be less supportive if the circumstances were different. For example, if the affair was a private family issue, candidly addressed by the former president, it might fail to meet the test of being the public’s business. This was far from the case.
Despite rehabilitating his image, Clinton’s indiscretions remain alive in the public consciousness and mentions of his extramarital affair slip into pop culture. The most recent example I’ve witnessed was during an episode of the E! Network’s scripted series “The Royals,” in which a character referenced Bill Clinton’s definition of ‘sexual relations’ to justify his own sexual misconduct.
Though Bill Clinton’s behavior doesn’t reflect on his wife’s character, her reaction when his indiscretions are referenced does. With Bill joining Hillary to campaign ahead of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, her strategy centers on using her husband’s charisma and presidential experience to her advantage when appealing to voters on the campaign trail.
Hillary cannot effectively claim her husband as a political ally without addressing his faults. If she does, Hillary’s comments against Trump will seem hypocritical, which is exactly what Trump is hoping.