Trump: Vince Foster's death, which I haven't brought up on the trail, is very fishy, don't you think?

A Twitter pal, seeing this story, wondered how long it’ll be before Trump accuses Hillary of being a lesbian. I thought he’d save that for the fall, as a flourish during our Very Presidential presidential debates, but it seems like he’s emptying the chamber early on Clinton dirt.

Maybe he’ll tuck it into his acceptance speech at the convention. It’d be a fine précis for the new GOP.

When asked in an interview last week about the Foster case, Trump dealt with it as he has with many edgy topics — raising doubts about the official version of events even as he says he does not plan to talk about it on the campaign trail.

He called theories of possible foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy.”

“He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump said, speaking of Foster’s relationship with the Clintons at the time. “He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.”

He added, “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”

It’s a show of character on Trump’s part that he refuses to smear his opponent with unfair accusations that he knows little about while reassuring reporters that the whole thing’s “very serious” and “very fishy.” As it turns out, this story was published in the same paper literally three minutes before this op-ed by Michael Gerson about Trump’s enthusiasm for conspiracy theories went live on the site. Gerson learned a hard lesson here about writing critically about Trump: You may think your indictment of him is comprehensive, but just wait an hour.

Yesterday I said I thought a campaign of (mostly) personal attacks is his best bet against Clinton. Does this data undermine my theory, though? Or does it support it?


If character matters, arguably Trump pushing conspiracy theories about Billary’s murderous ways hurts him by making him seem kookier and more demagogic than he already does. But maybe character doesn’t matter anymore; it sure didn’t in the Republican primary. (It sure didn’t when Bill Clinton beat George Bush!) And everything depends on whether people believe Trump’s theories or not. If “the Clintons killed Vince Foster” finds new life among younger voters who already dislike Hillary and don’t remember our first national go-round with this topic 20 years ago, the public’s view of Hillary’s temperament, not Trump’s, will decline. Clinton dirt, real and imagined, is an easy way for Trump to close the gap with her among voters who can’t otherwise imagine elevating him to the presidency. In the end, #NeverHillary is the best counter to #NeverTrump.

One more point. There’s truth to this:

Turning the election into a sh*t-flinging contest plays to Trump’s strengths, even though he’s matched up with a sh*t-flinger par excellence in Billary. I don’t like Ruffini’s phrasing about the party becoming “susceptible” to Trumpism, though. Republicans chose him knowing who he was. Cruz spent months making the case that Trump was no conservative; it scarcely mattered. I’d say it’s more the case that GOP voters apparently didn’t care much about ideology or “ideological combat” before Trump got in than that, by turning the primaries into a mud fight, he somehow made them “susceptible” to his brand of populist nationalism. Maybe they wanted a nationalist who’d gut-punch Democrats (“he fights!”) all along and they simply accepted people like Bush, McCain, and Romney because that’s who the party leadership was putting on the menu. To a nationalist, a conservative Republican is preferable to a liberal Democrat, I’m sure — but not ideal. The lesson of the primaries to me is that not only does conservative ideology not matter nearly as much to “conservatives” as many thought but that “conservative” authenticity can be bought cheap by a candidate willing to expel enough vitriol at the GOP establishment and their pals across the aisle, embodied by the Clintons. That is to say, to a lot of voters “sticking it” to Billary is “ideological combat.” Hasn’t it been so for a long time?

David Strom 4:41 PM on September 26, 2022