Trump vs. Clinton: The Perverse Single Standard

Gary North (, August 31, 2018

Political double standards are ancient. I don’t think we should pay much attention to them. But a judicial double standard compromises the integrity of the judicial system. If the court system is called into question, this undermines the foundation of the republic.

I want to talk here about the single standard. This one is not talked about because it applies to both political parties. Specifically, it applies to Clinton and Trump. But it applies in a peculiar way. It applies to Hillary Clinton and Melania Trump.

Their husbands are lectures, adulterers, and reprobates. Prior to Bill Clinton, such behavior was not tolerated by the American public with respect to presidents and presidential candidates. Prior to Ronald Reagan, divorced men were not elected President. We tend to forget this.

The old-line of the Left was this: “a man’s sexual behavior should not be a public issue.” That was not believed by conservatives. Conservatives held to this ancient bit of wisdom: “If a man cheats on his wife, he will cheat on anybody.” I happen to believe this aphorism is true.

By the time Bill Clinton ran for President, Democrats simply did not care about what one of his staffers referred to as “bimbo eruptions.” Opponents enjoyed the scandals as much as tabloid readers did, but his infidelities did not become a major issue in the campaign. Clinton strategist James Carville was correct: “It’s the economy, stupid.” That is how the public voted. They usually do.

I didn’t like Hillary Clinton from the get-go, but I thought she was treated abominably by her husband. Yet I don’t recall anybody in public office or in public view who expressed that opinion. Republicans did not feel sorry for her, and Democrats were not allowed to feel sorry for her. She was humiliated repeatedly, eruption by eruption. She knew about it. Then the press knew about it. The fact that the voters didn’t care in no way minimized her position as a victim. She really was a victim. She did not want to position herself publicly as a victim, but that’s what she was. I wrote a book about this: Victim’s Rights . She kept quiet about it for political reasons. If she was not going to complain, there was nothing judicially to be done about it. I think she wanted the trappings of political power so badly that she kept her mouth shut. But, more than any other Presidency in history, the public got hints of the shouting matches between them.

What remains appalling is that Hillary publicly attacked all of the seven women who brought accusations against her husband. She really was a scoundrel. But she did not play the victim’s card. She could have.

Melania Trump was never interested in being the First Lady. It was not clear in the early weeks of his Presidency that she would even move into the White House. It looked as though she was going to live in their New York penthouse. She has remained dutifully silent on the issue of her husband’s serial adulteries. I would recommend that she divorce him and get as much of his fortune for herself and her son as she can, and then give most of it to charities. But I am sure she would not take my advice.

There is a bipartisan silence on this issue. There was a bipartisan silence on the issue during the Clinton era. These two men had no respect for their wives. They are lechers, and they got away with it. Clinton was reelected overwhelmingly. If he had been legally allowed to run in 2000, I’m sure he would have, and he would have been reelected again. He was highly popular when he left the office.

There has never been sympathy for either of these women in the electorate.

In my view, this is a fundamental moral flaw of the American public. They dismiss what these two men did as if it were nothing. Democrats are trying to make political hay with the payoffs, but it is not going to work. The public no longer cares. Trump committed no federal crime by paying off the two women. The House may vote to impeach him if it falls into the hands of the Democrats next year, although I don’t think it will. If the Democrats do vote this way, then we will see a truly double standard: a standard applies to Trump, but it does not apply to the adulterers in the Democratic Party in the House. Clearly, the Senate is not going to convict.

The voters will vote their pocketbooks in 2020. I don’t think they vote morality any longer. I don’t think the voters are trustworthy. They wink their eyes at debauchery. This immoral outlook has spread into the economy. Those of us who are opposed to the welfare state get no political traction by invoking morality in our criticisms. Virtually all professional economists who oppose the welfare state limit their discussion to issues of efficiency. They never raise the issue of morality.

When moral issues carry no political weight, a nation is in trouble.

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