The Nation's National Affairs Correspondent Joan Walsh explained that Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has “mainstream[ed] the ugliest right-wing conspiracy theories about both Clintons” and his newest attempt to blame Hillary Clinton for the past actions of her husband “takes a special kind of misogyny.”
Since launching his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has attacked nearly every Republican and Democratic presidential candidate, but his attacks on Hillary Clinton have drawn special praise from right-wing media. After Trump attacked Clinton for returning late to a December 19 debate, Fox News' Andrea Tantaros called him “masterful” for supposedly "baiting" the Democratic frontrunner in a way that made her look like “a whiny, weak female.” The hosts of Fox News' Fox & Friends neglected to question Trump about his anti-Clinton tirade, even though mainstream media lambasted him for his “vulgar” and “astonishingly sexist” lines of attack. More recently, several conservative outlets and personalities -- including Brietbart News, RedState, Rush Limbaugh, and Jeffrey Lord -- were quick to defend Trump, and scapegoat Hillary Clinton, after Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric was featured in a recruitment video produced by an Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group.
In the January 5 article, Joan Walsh explained that Trump, who has a long history of injecting fringe news and conspiracy theories into mainstream news coverage, is simply “doing what he's so good at doing: dragging ugly mutant ideas from the dark, dank swamps of right-wing paranoia and setting them free” to “whip up the GOP base.” In response to mounting accusations of sexism, Walsh explained how “with typical Trump logic, he's retaliating with one of the most sexist insults to Clinton so far in this campaign.” From The Nation:
Donald Trump, the man of the bottomless bottom, is making headlines for slurring Hillary Clinton as an “enabler” of her husband's sexual misbehavior. Chris Matthews of MSNBC's Hardball, who doesn't shock easily, seemed staggered by it Monday night, insisting he'd never heard such a claim about Clinton before. “It's beyond indecent,” he said.
It may be beyond indecent, and I accept that Matthews never heard it said before. But calling Clinton an “enabler,” and making similar nasty charges about her supposed responsibility for Bill Clinton's sexual conduct, have long been staples of Hillary-hate on the right--and some mainstream pundits have dipped a toe in the hate swamp on occasion, too.
With a five-minute Google search I found Roger Stone, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, Joe Walsh, and Laura Ingraham making that claim. And back in 2003, Hillary-hater-in-chief Maureen Dowd of The New York Times defended Arnold Schwarzenegger by blaming Clinton for encouraging feminists to ignore her husband's bad behavior.
“Feminism died,” Dowd raved, “in 1998 when Hillary allowed henchlings and Democrats to demonize Monica as an unbalanced stalker, and when Gloria Steinem defended Mr. Clinton against Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones by saying he had merely made clumsy passes, then accepted rejection, so there was no sexual harassment involved.” But Dowd is alone among mainstream journalists in what she's willing to fling at Hillary Clinton; for the most part, the Clinton-as-enabler slur is confined to the right.
Trump is doing what he's so good at doing: dragging ugly mutant ideas from the dark, dank swamps of right-wing paranoia and setting them free in the mainstream, where they shock some journalists, disgust most Americans and whip up the GOP base. The GOP front-runner got angry when Clinton accused him of sexism (after he said she'd been “schlonged” by Barack Obama in 2008 and called her mid-debate bathroom break “disgusting.”) Of course, with typical Trump logic, he's retaliating with one of the most sexist insults to Clinton so far in this campaign. Blaming a woman for her husband's infidelity takes a special kind of misogyny. It will only worsen his already sizable gender gap at the polls.