Hillary Clinton says that Republican attacks on her husband’s reputation for alleged sexual assault up to and including rape, as well as her own enabling of that activity, will amount to nothing. “They can say whatever they want, more power to them,” Hillary told CBS News’ Face The Nation on Sunday. “I think it’s a dead end, blind ally for them, but let ‘em go…They can do it again if they want to. That can be their choice as to how to run in this campaign. Didn’t work before. It won’t work again.”
Fortunately for her, Republican candidates from the establishment wing agree with her. As usual. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said that the Republican Party ought to “focus on the present and the future. Doing what [Bill] did, was it appropriate? Heck no, it wasn’t. You know, of course it wasn’t. But that’s long gone. Bill Clinton’s not running for president. Hillary Clinton is.”
Of course she is. She also allegedly threatened one of Bill’s rape victims and targeted his sexual assault victims. Which should be an issue.
But not according to the other Big Thinkers™ inside the GOP. Ohio Governor John Kasich said, “Look, I just don’t like that stuff. It’s been around American politics throughout our history, people calling people names. But to me, Hillary would be defeated because I really believe, Mika, she has no vision. I don’t want to spend my time bashing Bill Clinton.”
Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) joined his two establishment colleagues: “the American people have made their judgment on Bill Clinton…there’s a difference between discussing Secretary Clinton’s conduct and President Clinton’s conduct.”
As John Nolte says at Breitbart:
Here you have three Republican governors running for president who are as representative as anyone could possibly be of the GOP Establishment, and rather than criticize Hillary’s hypocrisy, rather than stand up for the women who claim to have been victimized by the Clintons, these losers just roll over by pretending they don’t understand what the issue is really about.
Fortunately for Republicans, however, Donald Trump doesn’t take his colleagues at their word. Instead, Trump rightly bashed Hillary thusly over the weekend: “She’s not a victim, she was an enabler. She worked with him. She was – some of the women have been totally destroyed. Some of these women have been destroyed. And Hillary worked with him. I mean, there’s no – there’s no feeling sorry for Hillary in this situation.”
Presidential voters are, more than off-year-election voters, virtue signalers: all they care about is the feeling that washes over them when they poke that chad for a particular candidate. Elections thus become a game of mudslinging – and whomever ends up with more mud on them loses. Barack Obama was pure as the driven snow in 2008, and purer than Romney in 2012 – or at least that’s the way the press portrayed the conflict in 2012.
Yet Republicans continue to pretend that some Golden Age of Politics existed generations ago, and that if we stick to attacks based on political record rather than character, we will return to that Age. First, that Age never existed – John Adams once said of Alexander Hamilton, after his death, that Hamilton suffered from “a superabundance of secretions which he could not find whores enough to draw off! and that the same vapours produced his Lyes and Slanders by which he totally destroyed his party forever and finally lost his Life in the field of Honor.”
So yes, character attacks have always existed in politics. And they always will.
In the case of Hillary and Bill, they always should. Civil Republicans lose. Those who are willing to fight on the basis of matters that actually matter to voters may win.