Colson: Have we reached the Earth’s core yet?

John Colson
Hit and Run

Well, we’ve reached a new low in the 2016 election campaign — a campaign that already has set so many new lows, it’s hard to imagine how we can go any lower without breaking into the Earth’s molten interior and immolating ourselves.

I refer to the recording of Donald Trump and a brainless Hollywood social climber named Billy Bush (cousin to Jeb!) in which Trump yet again proves he has no respect for women, period, and prompted such national outrage he decided the only way to respond was to dredge up the sex-addicted antics of Hillary Clinton’s husband.

To punctuate this attempt at political distraction and redirection, he dragged out of the dark corners of anti-Clinton agitation four women, three of whom claimed back in the 1990s that former President Bill Clinton had sexually molested or raped them, and a fourth, Kathy Shelton, who hates Hillary because she defended a man accused of raping Shelton in 1975, when she was 12 years old.

About the three purported sexual victims of Bill’s predations, more later.

But in Shelton’s case, I find it odd that there has been very little attention to the fact that Hillary Clinton was appointed to represent the accused man, by a judge who acceded to the defendant’s request for a female public defender.

Shelton, I should say, should not be denied her anger over being raped (although her assailant pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, according to The Washington Post), but the plain fact is that legally speaking, everyone accused of a crime is guaranteed representation by an attorney if they want one.

And as one who has covered innumerable court hearings and trials, I can tell you that defendants who can’t afford a private attorney usually jump at the chance of a free one, and it seems that in this instance Hillary is guilty of nothing but doing the job that was handed to her and doing it well.

The other three women used by Trump (and I do mean USED) were Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey.

Jones sued Clinton over accusations that he sexually harassed her in 1991 (before he was elected to the presidency), something she kept mum about until 1994, only three days before the statute of limitations would have expired for that kind of a lawsuit.

Her suit was dismissed later by a judge for lack of a showing of actual damages. But while that dismissal was on appeal, Clinton agreed to pay her a settlement of $850,000 ($100,000 more than she had sought in her lawsuit).

Another one of Trump’s four accusers, Juanita Broaddrick, claimed that Clinton forced her to have sex with him in the late 1970s, when he was attorney general for the state of Arkansas, although no charges were ever filed based on her story.

And while Broaddrick also claimed Hillary Clinton subsequently “threatened” her in some way, published accounts cast doubt on that claim. She repeatedly denied rumors of the incident for years, and Hillary Clinton’s “threat” turned out, by Broaddrick’s own admission, to have been a quick chat at a campaign function when Hillary thanked Broaddrick for the work Broaddrick was doing on Bill Clinton’s behalf.

Willey, according to published accounts, accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault in 1993, while he was president, although her story later was shot full of holes. Linda Tripp, who loomed large in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and presidential impeachment proceedings, at one point testified that it actually was Willey who pursued Clinton, though Tripp later reversed direction and claimed Willey’s story was true.

I don’t know the truth about the women’s claims, though I have no doubt that Bill Clinton was a sex-addicted narcissist who regularly strayed from his marital pledge and used his celebrity and political rank to win sexual favors from women around him.

But all of this is completely irrelevant to the current presidential race, unless Trump thinks Hillary Clinton was pimping her husband out for nefarious reasons. He hasn’t said that yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it between now and Nov. 8.

The truth of Trump’s despicable political tactic in trotting out these women is simple — he desperately needs to divert attention from the statements he made to Billy Bush, on camera and in front of witnesses, which quite clearly show him to be the unapologetic pig and egotist that we’ve all known he is for some time.

And, of course, any effort to tarnish the Clintons has been prime grist for the Republican mill since Bill whipped George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election and was lucky enough to preside over a decade of remarkable American economic prosperity that has not been equaled since.

So, once again, Trump is trying to divert attention from his own lack of fitness to be president, by trumping up old news that the American electorate didn’t care much about even back when it was new news.

It’s pathetic, but he has to do it this way, I believe, because he truly has no vision for this country’s future and would be the most disastrous and least effective president we could possibly elect in these dangerous times.

As proof, I suggest you watch the debate again and note how many times his rambling statements contained actual facts. I believe you could count them on one hand, while his nasty generalizations, insulting remarks and unsupported charges against Hillary spilled over the stage like the outflow from a particularly fetid swamp.