NOLAN FINLEY

Finley: Trump wins biggest pig contest

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

The well-timed leak of a decade-old tape in which Donald Trump talks vividly and disgustingly about his opportunistic groping of women has taken the issue of Bill Clinton’s sordid sex life right off the table.

Now there’s no opening for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to effectively articulate the relevance of Bill Clinton’s dalliances. He’s proven himself an even bigger pig than ex-President Bill Clinton.

For two weeks, the Republican nominee has threatened to raise the issue of the former president’s exploitation of women in tonight’s second presidential debate with his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Trump regretted getting caught flat-footed in the first debate when Clinton nailed him with a recitation of the crude things he’s said about women. Instead of pivoting to her abetting of Bill Clinton’s exploitation of women, Trump launched into a bizarre attack on the victims of his own evil mouth.

Now there’s no opening for Trump to effectively articulate the relevance of Bill Clinton’s dalliances. He’s proven himself an even bigger pig than the ex-president.

And while Trump can’t go there, the issue is still relevant.

Hillary Clinton should have to answer for her situational feminism. While first lady, she shed her principles to wage war on many of the 17 women who say they had either consensual or involuntary relations with her husband. That moves the affairs beyond the intimate business of a marriage and makes them public interest.

Many of the women who caught Bill Clinton’s attention ended up with ruined lives. They were called vile names. Paula Jones, who collected an $850,000 sexual harassment settlement from the former president, was labeled trailer trash. Several say they were harassed into silence. And many say Hillary Clinton played a major role in their vilification.

The burning question heading into tonight’s second presidential debate is whether Donald Trump will dive into the sordid sex life of former President Bill Clinton, Finley writes.

The women who willingly trysted with the married president might be seen as opportunists. But those who say he forced himself on them deserved a hearing, not humiliation.

The heightened sensitivity to sexual assault and its victims has as a core tenet that victims should not be blamed. Many of Bill Clinton’s victims were not only blamed, they were destroyed.

That lends an air of hypocrisy to Hillary Clinton’s self-portrait as a defender of women. What she did went well beyond standing by her man. It was a matter of placing politics and power above all else, even the right of abused women to be taken seriously.

The issue of Bill Clinton’s behavior also has legitimacy because of the major role he is playing in his wife’s campaign.

In today’s environment, accused sexual predators are rarely welcome in polite society. They lose their jobs. They are publicly shunned.

What Bill Clinton has admitted doing would get anyone else banned from college campuses. In fact, if he were a student he’d have been expelled.

His affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky was a clear case of an unequal power relationship. It’s generally considered a form of sexual assault when a powerful executive has sex with a low-level employee. And yet it was Lewinsky who was shamed.

Had he not had so many misogynistic skeletons in his own closet, Trump could have made the case that the former president’s affairs and alleged assaults left behind a trail of broken women that his wife stepped on or over. He might also argue they reinforce the notion that the Clintons are above the law.

But Trump is again crippled by his own voluminous shortcomings.

nfinley@detroitnews.com