Did Hillary Clinton enable her husband’s sexual assaults by holding her tongue? Trump is digging around among old rumors; Clinton, too, flees into the past.
The clip that Donald Trump just published on his Instagram account is only 15 seconds long. One hears two female voices that speak of an “assault” and how such a thing should not happen to any woman. In the foreground, we see the White House and Bill Clinton with a cigar in his mouth. At the end, the loud laughter of his wife cuts in, and the description features the question: “Is Hillary really protecting women?”
The video shows the mark of the U.S. presidential election campaign at the moment. To be sure, there continue to be contradictory statements from the Republican Donald Trump (although he calls climate change a “hoax” in his speeches, he is having a wall built at his golf course in Ireland to protect it from the rising sea level). Yet, otherwise, the remaining candidates talk about the past.
The voices in Trump’s Instagram clip belong to Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey, who claim to have been sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton, respectively in 1978 and 1993. The clip intends to establish the impression that the probable candidate of the Democrats tolerated her husband’s escapades. The billionaire often labels Hillary Clinton as an enabler who “made possible” these alleged affairs and flings.
Trump told The Washington Post that his opponents would say many “nasty things” about him. He doesn’t want to play that game at all, but “as long as they do that, you know, I will play at whatever level I have to play at.”
Rumors, Quotes, Insinuations
It is normal that the U.S. media research the past of the candidates (“he [Trump] pretended to be his own publicist”). But the almost same-aged candidates, Clinton and Trump, speak so much about the past that everyone who was not interested in or too young for politics in the 1990s will learn a great deal about these pre-Internet times.
Trump and his supporters don’t just talk about the Lewinsky affair (more in this blog entry), but instead, they repeat unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, according to which Bill and Hillary Clinton were responsible for the death of their friend, the lawyer Vince Foster. The circumstances according to Trump are “serious and very fishy.”
The 69-year-old is drawing on his tried and tested tactic of whispering (he recently spread the rumor that Ted Cruz’s father had something to do with the murder of John F. Kennedy) to push these topics into the press. It is not difficult to recognize his calculation, as the political blogger James Hohmann writes — to be elected on Nov. 8, Hillary Clinton must be at least as unpopular as Trump himself.
The last election campaigns showed how such character assassination can be successful. In the early summer of 2012, Obama’s Democrats bombarded voters with clips that portrayed Mitt Romney as a greedy, ice-cold capitalist — and the reputation stuck like old chewing gum.
A further side effect of Trump’s “back to the past” campaign is that many will become aware once again that Bill Clinton was first elected 38 years ago, and that the Clintons are the epitome of the establishment, hated in many quarters. In so doing, he entangles himself in contradictions (fact checkers have proven that Trump defended Bill Clinton in the Lewinsky affair in the 1990s and described the impeachment proceedings in 2008 as undue), but Trump will approve of this.
He loudly complains when he is confronted with prior statements, but this apparently doesn’t hinder him from dishing out the same. Trump likes to speak about other aspects of the past: His slogan, “Make America Great Again,” nostalgically alludes to the prospering post-war America.
Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, likewise likes to speak about the past. She is especially fond of the time period between 1993 and 2001 when she lived in the White House. At that time, the economy was growing rapidly, and wages were rising. Consequently, it is no wonder that Clinton recently announced that her husband Bill would have to worry less about their porcelain collection, and instead be in charge of the revitalization of the American economy.
Such announcements are supposed to remind voters of the boom of the 1990s. Yet, at the same time, the Trump attacks on Bill Clinton’s affairs, as well as the consequences of his politics (NAFTA free trade agreement) retain a certain legitimacy when Hillary makes use of her husband’s successes. It will surprise no one that there is a lot of video material with old Trump clips in Clinton’s headquarters. The newest video documents a statement of the real estate mogul from the year 2006: He was hoping for a real estate crash because people like him could then make “a lot of money.”
Up to now, Hillary has not gotten involved in personal attacks (for example, Trump’s divorces or affairs), and much speaks in favor of her avoiding this if possible. A true mud fight with Trump would appear hardly presidential, and she could only lose against an unpredictable opponent.
However, no one should harbor illusions that other liberal groups or organization will shy away from bringing out controversial details of Trump’s private life and presenting them again and again. The most recent clip of the super PAC Priorities USA, which is close to Hillary Clinton, documents the billionaire’s statements about women.
Because just like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has a clear idea of how she will make it to the White House: The majority of female voters must be convinced that the Republican is a woman-hater. It is necessary to hammer this message into as many brains as possible.