Gennifer Flowers, who revealed a sexual relationship with Bill Clinton in the 1990s, will reportedly accept Donald Trump's invitation to attend the first presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton....This is said to be all Hillary Clinton's fault:
Remember, if you're grossed out by Trump inviting Gennifer Flowers to the debate: Clinton kicked off this bit of trolling by inviting Cuban— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) September 24, 2016
The decision was the latest play in a bizarre bit of gamesmanship between the Clinton and Trump campaigns over the debate. Clinton's camp confirmed this week that they would invite billionaire mogul Mark Cuban, a Trump antagonist, to the debate.Of course, Cubn and Flowers are not analogous -- Cuban did not have an affair with Trump's spouse. (As far as we know!)
I want to believe that the Clinton campaign knows that the Cuban invitation is just a little something extra -- it's not going to make a diffrence in how things turn out Monday night. On the other hand, I suspect the Trump campaign thinks this might be a brilliant, game-changing move.
In fact, these provocative invitations are pointless. Paula Jones, another of the women linked to Bill Clinton, was invited to the 1998 White House Correspondents' Dinner by the Moonie right-wing magazine Insight; she and the president sat at separate tables, sparks did not fly, and life went on.
In 2013, wingnut congressman Steve Stockman invited Ted Nugent to attend President Obama's State of the Union address; Obama was unfazed by the aging rocker, who sat there like a bored delinquent at detention.
As Politico's Zack Stanton has noted, there was an attempted debate psych-out of this kind in the 2004 debates:
In a famous incident on the floor of the U.S. Senate in June 2004, Vice President Dick Cheney told Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, “go f--k yourself,” after the senator had accused Cheney’s former employer, Halliburton, of war profiteering.But Cheney debated effectively that night, and his ticket went on to win.
So when it came time for the vice presidential debates that October, Senator John Edwards (D-NC) had a plan to get inside Cheney’s head during the debate: He reserved a seat for Leahy in the second row of the debate’s audience, where Cheney would almost certainly see him.
So this sort of thing is meaningless, except to journalists who'll make way too much of it ... unless, of course, it's seen as offensive by female voters:
It is the dumbest, ugliest thing to try to shame a woman by bringing up her spouse's infidelities.— Alyssa Rosenberg (@AlyssaRosenberg) September 24, 2016
Is Trump going to go further than this? Is he going to try to hijack discussions of actual issues in the debate by bringing up Bill's sex life and the Clintons' response to infidelity allegations? And does he seriously think that a woman who's spent nearly 35 questions dealing with this in public isn't going to be ready for that?
The only risk is that idiot journalists -- the Chuck Todds, the Mark Halperins -- will think it's a good move to go in this direction. But I don't think the public will respond well. And if it's just a matter of Flowers sitting mutely in the audience, and later giving an interview to Sean Hannity afterward that will be watched exclusively by people who are already certain to vote for Trump, it won't matter at all.
"Inappropriate" to use Bill's past personal behavior to attack Hillary— Will Jordan (@williamjordann) September 24, 2016
62% All voters
44% Rep pic.twitter.com/YppqsG0aWo
UPDATE, SUNDAY. From CNN:
Donald Trump's campaign manager and running mate said Sunday the GOP candidate doesn't want Gennifer Flowers -- who had an affair with Bill Clinton in the 1970s -- at Monday night's presidential debate.So now will the Trumpers get credit for, um, trumping the Clinton campaign's Cuban gambit and for high-mindedness because Flowers won't actually be there?
"We have not invited her formally, and we do not expect her to be there as a guest of the Trump campaign," Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's vice presidential nominee, told "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace that Trump's suggestion he'd invite Flowers was just "mocking" Clinton's campaign for distracting from the real issues at stake on Monday night.