Politics & Policy

Gropers in Glass Houses

From the outside it’s going to be very difficult to figure out how much of the fire aimed at Trump is opposition research and how much of it is an organic response to his denials. Some of these women coming forward are no doubt acting on their own volition. Others are probably being encouraged to by the Democrats. It really doesn’t matter. Trump fell for a trap in the second debate when he denied actually groping women. It’s worth remembering that Trump took a long time to deny he had actually done the things he described in that Access Hollywood video. He didn’t deny it in his apology video, and it took several tries to get him to deny it in the second debate. This is almost surely because he knew he was guilty and, as he hinted, he knew that more such accusations would come to light. 

The Trump team reportedly thinks they need to — surprise! — counter punch, like they did with the Paula Jones, Broaddrick press conference. I’ve always thought this was a less effective approach than some of my friends on the right. I think the distinction one often hears — or heard — of “Bill Clinton’s actions” versus “Trump’s words” is perfectly fine as far as it goes, it just doesn’t go very far. Bill Clinton did terrible things. But the average voter already knows that. They also know Bill’s not running for president. Moreover, the people most likely to think this is a really boffo argument are already voting for him. How many swing voters does it appeal to? Any GOP nominee needed millions of Obama voters to vote for him; how many of them cared about this argument? How many Republican-friendly suburban women are going to vote for Trump because he’s attacking Hillary Clinton for her adulterous husband and her attacks on his conquests/victims? Some? Maybe. A lot? No frick’n way. 

Anyway that’s all moot now. The distinction is melting away as women come out to accuse Trump of sexual assault. The “Bill’s deeds” versus “Trump’s words” distinction is becoming, at best, very, very, blurred. He’s a terrible messenger for a very weak message. 

If Trump had been a serious candidate, he would have known this stuff was coming. He would have hired opposition researchers to vet him before others could. It’s going to get much worse, and nuking the rubble of the Clinton marriage won’t save him.

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