Donald Trump turned on his ex-friend this week, criticizing Bill Clinton for his affairs in the White House as the former president geared up to campaign for his wife. Last week, Hillary Clinton accused Trump of having a "penchant for sexism" after he crudely said she was "schlonged" by Barack Obama in the 2008 election. Trump's response was to attack Clinton's husband for his past. But Bill Clinton's affairs aren't relevant to Hillary Clinton's campaign — she's her own person and her own candidate.
Bill is scheduled to hold two campaign events in New Hampshire on Monday as his first solo appearances for Clinton's 2016 campaign. Trump criticized Bill's involvement Saturday, tweeting: "Hillary Clinton has announced that she is letting her husband out to campaign but HE'S DEMONSTRATED A PENCHANT FOR SEXISM, so inappropriate!" Then on Monday, he said: "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!"
In an interview with the Today Show Tuesday, Trump said that Bill's affairs are "fair game." Ben Carson agreed, telling Fox Business Network Tuesday: "All previous presidents and their administrations are fair game for analysis and comparison." I don't dispute the assertion that most aspects of a presidential candidate's life are fair game — they've intentionally made themselves public figures and opened themselves up to criticism. I just don't see why Bill's affairs should affect Hillary Clinton's campaign. What the couple eats for breakfast is also fair game, but no one cares.
First of all, Clinton is not her husband. She has her own beliefs and ideologies. She's already set herself apart from Bill while serving as a senator and secretary of state, as well as promoting a criminal justice plan that would reverse the 42nd president's 1994 crime bill. Even if Bill does have a "penchant for sexism," that doesn't mean that Clinton should be penalized for it. Should every man in her life also be monitored for sexist behavior so that Trump can point out exactly how many men she knows who degrade women?
I'm in no way justifying Bill's sexual indiscretions during his time in the White House; only pointing out that it's irrelevant to Clinton's current campaign, or any other candidate's. Lots of politicians have affairs — that shouldn't stop their spouses from running for office.
Back in 2014, Rand Paul tried a similar tactic, calling Bill a "predator" whose affair with Monica Lewinsky undermined Democratic rhetoric that Republicans were waging a "war on women." Paul did have the foresight to add: "It’s not Hillary's fault, but it is a factor in judging Bill Clinton in history." However, a Democratic president's affair with a young woman is in no way the same as conservatives' nationwide efforts to cut off women's access to abortion, birth control, and medical treatment in general. If anything, this only reinforces Clinton's stance that her Republican rivals don't understand women's issues.
Male candidates are not judged on their spouses' actions as much as Clinton has been. Of course, part of the reason is her husband's political status, but it's also an attempt to make Americans view them as one entity. Married women are still individuals, and don't automatically assume their husband's beliefs or actions, so let's remember that Clinton is her own person. Who Bill slept with while in office has nothing to do with Clinton's ability to run the country.