Despite his promise to keep things civil at the presidential debates, Donald Trump has already moved to hit Hillary Clinton with a low blow. Two day before the presidential nominees' first face-to-face meeting at Hofstra University, Trump threatened to seat Gennifer Flowers, a woman President Bill Clinton admitted to having an extramarital affair with, in the front row. While Trump's threat made it clear that Clinton had clearly gotten under his skin by inviting Mark Cuban, a vocal Trump critic, to the first presidential debate, it also made him look weak and anti-feminist.
"If dopey Mark Cuban of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit in the front row, perhaps I will put Jennifer Flowers right alongside of him!" notoriously thin-skinned Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon before quickly deleting the tweet and reposting it with the correct spelling of Flowers' name. (That's Gennifer with a G.)
But honestly, I hope Trump follows through on his threat if only to show his true colors to the more than 100 million expected viewers of Monday's debate. (Flowers, for her part, has said she'd accept an invitation.)
Trump's decision to throw Flowers in Clinton's face (almost literally) is a disgusting, but not altogether surprising, move for the man with a record of employing sexist and misogynist rhetoric whenever he can. I mean, we're talking about the man who openly admitted that he couldn't say he treated women with respect in a 1993 interview with Howard Stern.
Ironically, Trump's threat about Flowers came only a day after Clinton's campaign released a provocative ad highlighting how damaging Trump's sexist commentary on women is for young girls. Trump clearly views women not as his peers or his equals (and perhaps not even as human beings), but as a means to an end. To Trump, women are simply a "fat, ugly face" or a "piece of ass."
Saturday was hardly the first time Trump has attempted to throw Bill's infidelity in Clinton's face. In fact, he told the New York Times he planned to try and discredit Clinton by bringing up her husband's affairs in May, although he had appeared to have backed away from that tactic when speaking with Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor earlier this week.
But in attempting to tear Clinton down via her husband's transgressions, Trump is placing himself in a virtual minefield. Not only did he once call one of Bill's accusers "a loser," but he's also had his own problems with fidelity. Take what he once told CNBC's Chris Matthews in 1998 when asked if he'd ever thought about running for president. "Can you imagine how controversial that'd be?" he said. "You think about him [Bill] with the women. How about me with the women? Can you imagine?"
Trump's threat to seat Flowers front and center at the first presidential debate may be one of his lowest moments yet. But as offensive and sexist as the threat is, it should also be alarming for an entirely different reason. Trump's tweet is only the latest example of his tendency to resort to childish bullying. Is this how Trump plans to negotiate with foreign powers? Using intimidation tactics often found on the schoolyard? I'm not sure how that would go down at the United Nations.