The double standard on Donald Trump's infidelity reveals something deeper about the right

The double standard on Donald Trump's infidelity reveals something deeper about the right
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Donald Trump and his top supporters have spent the week since the first debate blasting Hillary Clinton's personal life, blaming her for being an "enabler" of her husband's extramarital affairs and adding that her enabling makes her no friend to women in America.

Trump's crowds have eaten it up, cheering Saturday night during a speech in Pennsylvania when Trump insinuated Clinton had cheated on her husband, former President Bill Clinton — an accusation without any basis in evidence or fact.

But most illuminating about Trump's latest foray into blaming Clinton for her husband's infidelity is Trump supporters' ability to hold Clinton at fault for her husband's behavior, while excusing Trump's own marital dalliances. 

"Trump voters excuse literally every aspect of his behavior," Florida-based Republican strategist and anti-Trump crusader Rick Wilson said. "He wasn't wrong when he said he could kill someone on Fifth Avenue and wouldn't lose a single vote."

Trump's second marriage arose out of an affair he conducted during his first. He also bragged about his sexual dalliances to New York tabloids.

He surrounds himself with the likes of Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, whose extramarital affairs and three marriages apiece helped sink their own presidential ambitions in 2012 and 2008, respectively.

And even now, in his third marriage to Melania Trump, Trump has expressed desires to "fuck" other women, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Still, even amid this hypocritical line of attack, Trump hasn't yet seen his floor of support fall out from under him.

To many supporters, a hatred of Clinton is driving their forgiveness of Trump's warts.

Polls have shown more than half of Trump's supporters say their vote is against Clinton rather than for him.

That logic is how Sen. Ted Cruz — who over the summer urged Republicans to "vote their conscience" in a shocking moment at the Republican National Convention — came to endorse Trump last month. 

And it's why Trump's loyal base won't stray, even if their candidate does something — like blaming Clinton for her husband's behavior — that in other years would be an election-ending gaffe.

"They have a sense of rebellion and denial that are merged in their support of Trump," Wilson said of Trump's most fervent supporters. "They don't care what the facts are, they don't want to hear anything critical of him. ... They've conditioned themselves to do that."

Mic has ongoing presidential coverage. Please follow our main election hub as well as coverage of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

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Emily C. Singer

Emily C. Singer, née Cahn, is a senior writer for Mic covering politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at esinger@mic.com

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