Steer clear of the Clinton scandals, it’s bound to backfire, the New York Times warned presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on Tuesday. It’s been the paper's same helpful advice to Republicans since 1992. Patrick Healy, a fierce journalistic defender of the former first lady, took up arms for Hillary Clinton and her “decades of experience and qualifications” defeating various forms of “boorishness.”
Healy expects that will serve her well against the ‘humiliations” expected from Trump, in “Little to Be Off Limits As Trump Plans Attack On Clinton’s Character.”
Donald J. Trump plans to throw Bill Clinton’s infidelities in Hillary Clinton’s face on live television during the presidential debates this fall, questioning whether she enabled his behavior and sought to discredit the women involved.
Mr. Trump will try to hold her accountable for security lapses at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and for the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens there.
And he intends to portray Mrs. Clinton as fundamentally corrupt, invoking everything from her cattle futures trades in the late 1970s to the federal investigation into her email practices as secretary of state.
Another goal is to win over skeptical Republicans, since nothing unites the party quite like castigating the Clintons. Attacking them could also deflect attention from Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities, such as his treatment of women, some Trump allies say.
For Mrs. Clinton, the coming battle is something of a paradox. She has decades of experience and qualifications, but it may not be merit that wins her the presidency -- it may be how she handles the humiliations inflicted by Mr. Trump.
Healy actually made Clinton, who participated in virtually every scandal of Bill Clinton’s reign in and outside the White House, into a victim:
She would make history as the first woman to be a major-party nominee, yet she would also be viewed, in part, through the prism of her husband’s flaws. Some political allies and friends, while disgusted with Mr. Trump, see a certain cosmic symmetry at work: After decades of fighting what she once called “the politics of personal destruction,” Mrs. Clinton will reach the White House only if she survives one more crucible of sordid and scandalous accusations.
Healy also revealed a low bar for what he considers “boorish behavior.”
Mrs. Clinton has often flourished in the wake of boorish behavior: her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, Kenneth W. Starr’s investigation of her husband, the congressional impeachment proceedings. Women rallied to her side during her 2000 Senate race after her Republican opponent, Representative Rick A. Lazio, invaded her personal space during one debate, and they helped her win the 2008 New Hampshire primary shortly after Barack Obama dismissively said she was “likable enough.”
Back in September, Healy claimed “independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr made her sympathetic with his Javert-like investigations.” (Inspector Javert was the obsessed antagonist of Les Miserables who pursued Jean Valjean for years.)
[Trump] acknowledged that Republicans tried to discredit her judgment in the marathon Benghazi hearing in the fall, to little avail. But he said that he would be more pointed and memorable in linking her to the failings and deaths in Libya, and that the debate would have a vastly larger television audience than the hearing. Still, advisers of Mrs. Clinton pointed to her face-off with the Republican-led Benghazi committee as a sign of her unflappability.
Healy finally got around to one of the Clintons’ many unresolved scandals – the sexual assault claims from Juanita Broaddrick.
“We’ve never had a woman at the top of the ticket, and there will be plenty of people who’ll have a problem with her gender,” said Christina Greer, a political scientist at Fordham University. And Mr. Trump “can say that Bill Clinton was accused of rape and destroyed a girl’s life,” she added, referring to allegations by Juanita Broaddrick of a sexual assault in the 1970s and to the Lewinsky affair.
Healy teamed with Alan Rappeport to discourage Trump’s lines of attack, and suggest how Hillary Clinton might turn them back against the Republican nominee, in “Inside Donald Trump’s Plans to Attack the Clintons, and Why They Might Fail.” They managed to ignore Hillary Clinton's hostile attacks on her husband's accusers and made his affairs a net plus for her campaign.
Why Trump Would Attack: Mr. Trump has already used Mr. Clinton’s history of infidelity against Mrs. Clinton to repel criticism that Mr. Trump is sexist. He claims that Mrs. Clinton enabled her husband by staying with him despite the affairs and protected him by trying to blame the women...
Why It Might Fail: Even some of Mrs. Clinton’s harshest critics think that she handled her marital problems with grace, and the opening of old wounds could engender sympathy for her....
On attacking Hillary Clinton on the Monica Lewinsky front:
Why It Might Fail: Polls from the late 1990s showed that Mrs. Clinton’s popularity soared as the scandal unfolded, suggesting that Mr. Trump might actually help his opponent by bringing up the subject. Mrs. Clinton often responds by calling the controversy old news, and she could be correct that voters are tired of hearing about it.
Not even Clinton’s notorious sweetheart investment deals, as when she “managed in the late 1970s to turn a $1,000 investment in cattle futures into nearly $100,000 with little financial experience,” perked up the NYT’s scandal antenna:
The cattle controversy never amounted to much, and resurfacing it opens up Mr. Trump to rebuttals about his many failed businesses and the lawsuits facing Trump University, which has been accused of fraudulent practices.
On “Mrs. Clinton’s conducting business on a private email server as secretary of state,” the Times admitted that the candidate had “been spared much discussion of this in her primary campaign.” The reporters quickly dismissing the possibility of any actual wrongdoing on Hillary’s part: “...but the nebulous nature of her email practices gives Mr. Trump the chance to argue, without having any evidence, that she showed poor judgment and had something to hide.”
Besides, “Mrs. Clinton has already expressed regret for her email practices, and the situation is frozen while the F.B.I. conducts its investigation. There is little new to say on the matter, and there has been no evidence that Mrs. Clinton’s private server put national security at risk.”
The reporters trumpeted that "The attacks at a United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, are a favorite subject of Republicans,” only to throw more cold water on that line of inquiry: “Mrs. Clinton has already weathered hours of grilling before Congress on Benghazi, and she has her responses well practiced. By bringing it up, Mr. Trump could highlight a lack of foreign policy knowledge.”