Thursday, May 24 , 2018, 7:29 am | Fog/Mist 58º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Susan Estrich: The Donald vs. Big Bill

Not satisfied with hurling sexist invectives at Hillary Clinton, the Donald has turned his ire on her husband, the former president, claiming he has "a terrible record of women abuse."

Really? Does anyone recall Bill Clinton ridiculing women reporters (as Trump did with Megyn Kelly), insulting the looks of a female candidate (as Trump did with Carly Fiorina) and introducing a generation to Jewish slang for a male organ (his description of Barack Obama's '08 defeat of Hillary Clinton)?

The only reason Donald Trump is a viable candidate for the Republican nomination is because white men dominate Republican primaries and caucuses.

They do not dominate general elections. Donald Trump has most "professional" Republicans — the kind who run and fund and organize campaigns — shaking in their boots, because every group except white men is overwhelmingly against Donald Trump. 

Women: check. Trump has the biggest gender gap of any candidate in the race. African-Americans: check. They prefer Clinton over Trump by a margin of nearly 10 to 1.

Hispanics, one of the fastest growing demographic groups, overwhelmingly oppose Trump, likely because of his over-the-top rhetoric slamming immigrants as rapists and criminals.

Interestingly, Asians, who might be expected to lean Republican because of their rising economic status, don't seem to be doing so this time around. It appears that they identify more as immigrants than as new members of the upper-middle-class Republican base.

No wonder Trump is attacking Bill Clinton. 

The only problem is that Bill Clinton isn't running for president. And if he were, he would trounce Trump.

No question: The 2008 campaign was a tough one for the Clintons. The media was in love with Obama, in much the same way they'd been in love with Bill Clinton himself back in 1991-1992.

They were largely giving Obama a free ride, and the former president was much angrier on behalf of his wife than she was.

I remember, the night before the Iowa caucus, the Clintons arrived late at their hotel, which — perhaps someone's idea of a joke — happened to be the same hotel Fox News had been assigned.

Hillary greeted the crowd that formed in the lobby pleasantly and then said goodnight. Her husband stayed, posing for pictures with everyone who wanted one, and when he was done, gave me chapter and verse detailing the unfair coverage of the campaign so far.

Anyone who doubts the strength of the bond between the two Clintons need only have listened to that conversation to be convinced. 

And what about Monica Lewinsky, whose name, thanks to the Donald, is once again in papers everywhere because of his comments?

Yes, Bill Clinton had an inappropriate sexual relationship with Lewinsky nearly 20 years ago. And he paid the price for it, politically.

But his wife had nothing to do with it. And while it might have been true back in 2000 that many women were troubled she stayed with him, she won the Senate race that year with strong support from women. 

Of course the former president is going to campaign on behalf of his wife. I have yet to meet a Democratic running for any office in recent years whose first choice for a "surrogate" to raise money or to campaign wasn't Bill Clinton.

So he'll be out there, as he should be, as wives have been doing for decades, helping his spouse get elected.

But at the end of the day, Hillary is the one running for president, not Bill.

And what could be more sexist than an opponent who (even if out of desperation) ignores the female candidate and aims his fire instead at her husband — as if Bill is the one running, as if Hillary is responsible for his sex life? 

Happy New Year in these interesting times.

Susan Estrich is a best-selling author, the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the USC Law Center and was campaign manager for 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. Click here to contact her or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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