People who think that elections should be about the issues are tearing their hair about the way Donald Trump is going after Hillary and Bill Clinton. First, Team Trump rolled out the Internet ad that featured various women complaining about how Bill savaged them while Hillary cackles over a grainy black and white image of the former president with a cigar in his mouth. Then, Trump himself pronounced the death of Vince Foster to be “fishy.”

Vince Foster, for those who don’t remember or who came of age after the 1990s, was a White House deputy counsel in the Clinton administration.


He was found dead in Fort Marcy Park of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The death was judged a suicide, but that did not stop the conspiracy theories from being bandied about. Foster and Hillary Clinton were rumored to be having an affair. Foster was murdered at the behest of the Clintons for some reason.

The rape allegations are one thing. The accusations from multiple women have a certain credibility. But why drag up this hoary, long-forgotten conspiracy theory?

The answer is that Trump has learned from the Lyndon Johnson school of political combat.

The story goes that LBJ was in a tight election. He gathered his staff together and proposed that they accuse his opponent of having carnal knowledge of farm animals. When told that was a ridiculous accusation that no one would believe, Johnson drawled, “I know. I just want to hear him deny it.”

Trump’s raising the story of Bill Clinton raping and abusing women, and the idea that Vince Foster was shot in a mob-style hit has the effect of dominating the news cycle. The gambit drowns out Team Clinton launching attacks on Trump’s character and record, a target rich environment.


 Besides, the Clintons have done so many other underhanded things, just about any accusation will stick to a certain extent.

But why not bring up Obamacare and the mess in the Middle East? Trump thinks these things are too hard for voters to understand. Rape and murder, by comparison, are easy.

Besides, Trump likes conspiracy theories. He had fun for months speculating about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. More recently, he actually placed Ted Cruz’s father on the grassy knoll. Both gambits were outrageous.

Both worked, from Trump’s point of view. So, why change a strategy that has thus far paid such dividends.