Hillary Clinton wants voters to think she's taking the high road.
Now that Donald Trump has locked up the Republican nomination and turned his focus from former rival Ted Cruz to Democratic front-runner Clinton, the businessman has been anything but subtle in his attacks on former President Bill Clinton. Trump's logic on the Clintons is simple: How can Hillary claim she's a champion for women when she so callously dismissed the women who were victims of her husband's sexual aggression?
It's an argument that has merit. For all her posturing as a woman fighting the good fight on behalf of all females, Clinton's attempts to destroy the lives and credibility of the many women who accused her husband of unwanted sexual advances are well-documented.
George Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton aide and by no means part of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" that Hillary likes to invoke, described the way the former First Lady responded when a woman came forward to accuse Bill of sexually inappropriate behavior during his first presidential campaign.
"We have to destroy her story," Hillary said, referring to one of the first of her husband's accusers. That anecdote comes from Stephanopoulos' memoir, "All Too Human," as the New York Times notes.
Hillary also reportedly used words like "bimbo," "floozy," and "stalker" to describe her husband's accusers. She then led efforts to dig up dirt on those women, attacking them with a focused fury fueled by political ambitions.
When Gennifer Flowers -- a woman who Bill eventually admitted, under oath, that he'd had a sexual relationship with -- came forward with her accusations, the Clinton campaign deployed loyal strategist James Carville to smear Flowers in one of the ugliest, most dehumanizing ways possible.
"If you drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find," Carville said of Flowers.
Stop for a minute and really think about how disturbing and awful that behavior is. These women already knew that Bill Clinton, as governor of Arkansas, was a powerful man. Now he was running for president, with an army of handlers, strategists and campaign staffers to dig up dirt on his accusers.
Yet those women still bravely came forward and told their stories, despite the enormous disparity in power and clout between them and the man they were accusing. And what was the result? The Clintons did everything in their power to ruin the lives of those women, to ruin their credibility, drag their names through the mud, and portray them as "white trash" liars and opportunists.
Democrats, this is your champion of women and her husband.
The last thing Hillary wants is for all that unfortunate business to get dredged up again, which is why she's pretending to take the high road and ignore it, even as it becomes front-page fodder for broadsheets and tabloids alike. Clinton is wrong to ignore events from her past, and she owes it to voters to explain her behavior.
And it's going to take a lot of explaining, since this is the same candidate who employed every racially-coded message in the book in 2008 when it became clear then-Sen. Barack Obama was gaining on her in the polls. Clinton's going to have a tough time appearing to take the high road when she's stooped so low in the past.
The most notorious example of Hillary's race-baiting was the so-called "whitey tape." Hillary's desperate, reeling campaign stooped to its lowest point toward the end of the 2008 race, pretending to leak the existence of a damning recording of Michelle Obama railing against "whitey," according to Slate.
It turns out the tape never existed outside of the imaginations of Clinton campaign staffer Sidney Blumenthal and Clinton booster Larry C. Johnson, but as Slate notes, the goal was to play the race card and scare voters who might otherwise support Obama.
That's also why Bill famously compared Obama's presidential campaign to black activist Jesse Jackson's failed presidential bid, and why the Clinton campaign allegedly leaked a photo of Obama in Somali garb to the Drudge Report, per The Week.
While denying Hillary's campaign leaked the photo, an aide went on TV to say there was nothing wrong with Obama appearing in "his native clothing, in the clothing of his country." The backhanded defense was expertly crafted to deliver two pieces of information to voters -- that Obama is a Muslim, and that he's not even an American citizen.
There are many, many more examples of coded racism employed by Hillary's 2008 campaign, more than any one column can possibly cover, and some experts say it's the reason for the still-frosty relationship between the Obamas and the Clintons, particularly between Michelle Obama and Hillary.
Hillary might think she's taking the high road by not responding to Trump, but all the unflattering details are out there for anyone who knows how to do a Google search. Like her email scandal, and her Benghazi scandal, and all the other things Hillary blames on some conspiracy to discredit her, they won't just go away if she ignores them.