On Tuesday, after a pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC released videos attacking Donald Trump for his sexist rhetoric against women, the presumptive Republican nominee lashed out in this election season's virtual wrestling ring, also known as Twitter. He called Clinton out on the "irony" of an anti-Trump ad concerning women when "her husband was the WORST abuser of woman in U.S. political history." Yes, "woman,“ not "women."
The attack ads were released on Monday by Priorities USA. The first one is called "Speak" and shows men and women lip-syncing Trump's past comments denigrating women, including delightful nuggets like, "Does she have a good body? No. Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely." The second ad, called "Respect," plays Trump's classic remark that "nobody respects women more than Donald Trump does" before parading clips of him speaking against Planned Parenthood and women who get abortions. Granted, Trump has also spoken for Planned Parenthood and moderated his stance on abortions, but beware of his flip-flopping.
Enraged, Trump took to Twitter for another entry in his public diary. But last time I checked, the former Secretary of State was running for president, not her husband. So, what does his personal history have to do with her? Trump's tweet reveals another layer of his sexism, in which he holds a woman accountable for her husband's actions.
It's a low blow for Trump to hit Clinton using her husband's treatment of women. Such a parallel takes agency away from her by having her husband's actions speak for her. By treating Bill Clinton's personal behavior as a reflection of Hillary or her presidential qualifications, Trump legitimizes the demeaning notion that she is merely an extension of her husband, not her own candidate or, for that matter, person.
Trump hammered home how little respect he had for Hillary Clinton by then tweeting that Bill should run for president, instead of Hillary, even after saying just hours earlier that he was the "WORST abuser of woman in U.S. political history."
I find Trump's arguments that Hillary Clinton should have to answer for Bill Clinton's sexual behavior to be utterly, incomprehensibly lacking in merit or worth. It's an infuriating line of of attack that I highly doubt a male candidate would face if his wife had been the one with the unsavory — and yes, by all means, Bill Clinton's sexual behavior is repugnant — history.
At the same time, I do believe Hillary Clinton must do more to separate herself from her husband — in all areas of the campaign. If Clinton wishes to have her own history and accomplishments represent her, she should also be mindful of distancing herself from her husband in a way so that she doesn't create opportunities for such comments from Trump and others.
On Monday, while mocking Trump at a rally in Kentucky, she said, "I think we know a little bit about how to create jobs. I think my husband did a heck of a job back in the ’90s.” Clinton could have cited herself, not her husband — after all, her own political career is more than enough to promote. Trump should let Clinton speak for herself. And in turn, Clinton should be speaking for herself, as well.
Image: Bustle/Dawn Foster