If you’ve been following the events of the 2016 presidential campaign, you already know one thing: Donald Trump — a candidate with a storied public history of marital infidelity — has not been shy about bringing up Bill Clinton’s past in an effort to discredit Hillary Clinton’s ability to lead the nation. At last night’s debate, after fallout from Friday’s audio leak, he went all-in on the “Bill’s worse” card.
But here’s something that needs to be said before we go sink further into the cesspool Trump’s digging: Bringing up Bill Clinton’s cheating as a way to somehow imply that Hillary Clinton would make a bad president fails on every single logical level. It holds absolutely zero weight.
In a perfect world, we’d end this piece right here, but because there are plenty of people who see Trump’s attack as valid, let’s break down why blaming Hillary Clinton for being cheated on, and using it as a talking point to explain why she doesn’t belong in a leadership role, is completely wrong-headed.
First, this: Lots of people get cheated on. Lots. It’s possible that you have been cheated on or have cheated on someone. That’s because cheating is incredibly common, as sad as that may seem. In fact, according to a 2012 article in The Washington Post, researchers estimate that between 25 and 75 percent of Americans have cheated on their partners. It’s a huge margin for error, but makes a clear case nonetheless. And, as the Ashley Madison hack reminded us, sometimes the people who act holier than thou are a part of that number.
Leaving the stats aside, there’s something else that most people ought to be able to agree on: Infidelity doesn’t prove anything about the individual being cheated on. It’s part of a complicated, private, and mostly unknowable relationship matrix. You’d never tell a friend that “your partner cheated on you, which shows that you’re not capable of selling insurance,” would you? Why would it pertain to the office of president?
Why should Clinton be shamed by the fact that she stood by her husband and tried to get their marriage in order? Statistics reveal that many couples find ways to stay together after infidelity. Fox News has stated that about 50 percent of couples choose to stay together, even after cheating has been discovered. True numbers, of course, like the numbers on how many people cheat, are murky, but it’s safe to say that many couples choose to work their relationships out instead of ending them.
None of this really begins to touch the hypocrisy of Donald Trump, an adulterer himself, teasing this talking point over and over. Trump’s own infidelities are well established. Even the co-author of Trump’s best-selling book, The Art of the Deal, has publicly noted the irony of the former reality show host going after Clinton for being the target of infidelity while engaging in adultery himself: