Donald J. Trump unleashed a slashing new attack on Hillary Clinton over Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions on Friday as he sought to put the Clintons’ relationship at the center of his political argument against her before their next debate....Really, Donald? Can you? I'll admit that Trump was awfully nasty on Monday night -- but when it came to this particular subject, not only couldn't he confront Clinton with it, he couldn't even bring himself to identify the subject in plain English:
In an interview with The New York Times, ... Mr. Trump ... raised Mrs. Clinton’s criticism of women who had been involved with her husband, such as Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers.
He said he was bringing up Mr. Clinton’s infidelities because he thought they would repulse female voters and turn them away from the Clintons, and because he was eager to unsettle Mrs. Clinton in their next two debates and on the campaign trail.
“She’s nasty, but I can be nastier than she ever can be,” Mr. Trump said.
TRUMP: ... But you want to know the truth? I was going to say something...After the debate was over, Trump and his surrogates explicitly named the Bill Clinton sex scandals as the subject Trump was allegedly too considerate to raise. The surrogates praised Trump for his magnanimous restraint.
HOLT: Please very quickly.
TRUMP: ... extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, "I can't do it. I just can't do it. It's inappropriate. It's not nice."
The obvious conclusion is that Trump wants it both ways -- he wants praise for not Going There in the first debate, and he wants to Go There with a vengeance now. But maybe he really wanted to Go There on Monday night, except that once he was actually in Hillary Clinton's presence, he couldn't bring himself to do it. And now he's overcompensating by showing us what a big tough guy he could have been if he'd wanted to be.
Remember the trip to Mexico? Big tough guy spends a year telling us how awful Mexicans are, and how big and classy and beautiful his wall on the Mexican border is going to be, and how he's going to make those damn Mexicans pay for it. Then he actually arrives in Mexico, has a face-to-face meeting with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, and ...
On "Morning Joe," the host said Trump's refusal to press Peña Nieto in person about funding a border wall between the US and Mexico demonstrated Trump's lack of confidence as a leader.Yes, Trump choked -- but immediately afterward, once he was safely back over the border and out of Peña Nieto's presence, then he became a tough guy again, delivering one of the most feral anti-immigrant speeches of his campaign, and asserting again that Mexico will pay for the wall.
"If that's the center of your campaign, how do you not get the job done when you're there?" Scarborough said.
He added: "He had the guy in front of him and he choked. He choked! I can't stand people who choke under pressure."
Yet I bet if he'd gone right back to Mexico City the next day for another meeting with Peña Nieto, he'd have wimped out again. Because he's just not the tough guy he thinks he is -- not when he's confronted with the people he's insulting from a safe distance.
I could be very wrong about this. But if I'm right, we'll hear a lot of talk about this subject from the Trump camp ... right up until debate night on October 9. We'll all be waiting for Trump to raise the subject in the debate -- and he'll wuss out again.
If I'm wrong, and Trump is telegraphing what will actually be a major line of attack at the next debate, then I'm a bit confused. Trump's campaign has made it clear that letting the enemy know how you're going to attack is a terrible strategy. Trump said so in a garbled, incomprehensible way during the debate, in reference to ISIS:
TRUMP: And look at her website. You know what? It's no difference than this. She's telling us how to fight ISIS. Just go to her website. She tells you how to fight ISIS on her website. I don't think General Douglas MacArthur would like that too much.Before the debate, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway conveyed that talking point in a more coherent (if still wrongheaded) way on Morning Joe:
Asked by Willie Geist during MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whether Trump will offer specifics beyond his broad statement that he will “knock the hell out of ISIS,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway replied in the affirmative.Trump is now telling Hillary Clinton's campaign "exactly what we’re going to do" in the next debate, assuming he has the nerve to actually do it. What would General MacArthur think?
“He certainly has a plan. I’ve heard it,” Conway said. “This is his debate tonight, Willie, he’ll tell you if that question is asked. But there’s also -- you know, people are just amazed that Hillary Clinton would put on her campaign website what her plan to defeat ISIS is. Is it that ISIS can’t read that plan?”
... Pressed by Geist and Mika Brzezinski on whether voters deserve to know details about his plan before they cast their votes, or at least a sense that he has any “knowledge of the landscape,” Conway said, “Yes, and he’ll be happy to offer those specifics without telling the enemy exactly what we’re going to do.”