Donald Trump attacking Hillary Clinton for her husband’s infidelity marks a new low in the likely Republican presidential nominee’s below-the belt-campaign rhetoric. Unfortunately, things are bound to only get worse.
That Donald Trump would use former President Bill Clinton’s extramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky as a means to attack the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton does not come as a huge surprise.
In fact, his campaign said so publicly last month when a Trump aide stated that they would consider the Lewinsky affair fair game after Clinton had said that Trump had a “penchant for sexism”. The official confirmation, however, would not even have been necessary. That’s because Trump himself has made two things amply clear during the course of his campaign.
No holds barred
First, that Clinton’s charge of sexism sticks and is justified. Trump’s degrading, insulting and objectifying rants against women are too numerous and too coarse to be listed here. Just search for the words “sexist” and “Trump” to get a sampling of Trump’s most recent outbursts. Making matters worse, Trump’s derogatory comments about women are no new phenomenon, but a pattern. Britain’s Independent newspaper even launched what it called a “Donald Trump sexism tracker” last year, to chronicle “every vile comment, in one handy place”.
Secondly, while the viciousness and absurdity of Trump’s accusation that Hillary Clinton had somehow been an “enabler” of her husband’s affair is hard to fathom, it is a foreboding sign of what’s to come when the general election campaign picks up steam. The biggest surprise about Trump’s remarks is therefore not that he would be willing to make the Lewinsky affair an election topic, but the fact that he is willing to do so this early in the campaign against Hillary Clinton. It serves as a message – or perhaps a warning for Hillary Clinton – that Trump will run a no-holds-barred campaign.
In Clinton and Trump this year’s likely presidential race features two candidates with very high unfavorability ratings. One of them, Trump, has now already started throwing mud at his opponent. Hillary Clinton must watch out that she does not stoop to his level. That’s because if Trump has proven anything so far then it is that in a tit-for-tat battle of below-the-belt insults he is the undisputed master.