Donald Trump has been patting himself on the back for not bringing up Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs during the first presidential debate, despite the fact that that is exactly what he did.
In the middle of complaining about Clinton running attack ads against him, which he called “not nice,” he dropped this no-comment comment:
I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, ‘I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate. It’s not nice.’
Everyone knew what he meant, especially since he had been threatening to invite Gennifer Flowers to the debate. Flowers sold The Star tabloid her story about having an affair with Bill Clinton, which he at first denied but then later confirmed under oath.
If dopey Mark Cuban of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit in the front row, perhaps I will put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2016
In case what Trump was referring to somehow managed to go over anyone’s head, Trump laid it out more explicitly right away in a post-debate interview, saying he was glad he didn’t mention Bill Clinton’s indiscretions.
Trump is suggesting he might bring the topic up again, perhaps more directly, in future debates.
Author and sex advice columnist Dan Savage has offered up some unsolicited advice to Hillary should that happen.
Savage often writes about infidelity and in many cases encourages couples to try to work through an affair in spite of the cultural messaging that states that cheating must mean the immediate death of a relationship.
Savage married his partner, Terry Miller, in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2005 and was among the first group of eleven same-sex couples to marry in the state of Washington when it became legal to do so in 2012.
Savage’s advice is spot on, and while Clinton didn’t ask him, she would be wise to take it should Trump continue trying to score points with this particular line of attack. If for no other reason than it highlights Trump’s hypocrisy on the issue.
It is also noteworthy that plenty of people have been cheated on and know the pain of that experience. Going after Clinton for having to deal with that situation, like so many others have as well, makes her more empathetic and likable if anything, which polling suggests she could use more of, and makes him look unsympathetic and cruel.
While it can’t be enjoyable to have your husband’s infidelity thrown in your face, purely from a political standpoint Clinton has more to gain than to lose by Trump going there, and if she follows Savage’s advice she will knock it out of the park.
Here’s some of what he suggests she say:
The fact that there have been challenges in my marriage, Donald, isn’t news to anyone. My husband has not always been faithful. That’s true. It’s also not relevant to the question before the American people, and that question is this: which one of us—you or me—should be the next president of the United States.…
It should go without saying that [my husband’s] actions have, at times, caused a great deal of pain for me, for our daughter, and for all involved. It should go without saying but here I am saying it, Donald, because you want to talk about affairs. So let’s talk about them. But first I want to say this: I love my husband. He is not perfect. My husband loves me. I am not perfect. We managed to work through the pain and save our marriage, like so many other couples who’ve faced similar challenges, and I’m glad we’re still together.
Now let’s talk about affairs.
You’ve had a few yourself, Donald. That’s not news to anyone either. You’ve bragged about the affairs you’ve had. You divorced your first wife and married one of the women you cheated on her with. For your third wife’s sake, Donald, I hope your cheating days are behind you. Because I know how painful being cheated on is and I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone. It really hurts. Call your first wife, Donald, and ask her how it felt.…
Because being cheated on is bad, Donald. It hurts. But cheating is worse. A decent person apologizes for cheating, which is what my husband did. A decent person doesn’t go on Howard Stern and brag about it. The American people don’t expect a perfect president. There are no perfect presidents. But the American people deserve a decent one.