But Trump knows Biden has much more to lose in a debate about sexual impropriety, and he couldn’t care less about being labeled hypocritical or dishonest. Let us remember that he invited Bill Clinton’s accusers Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones to be in the audience of one of his debates with Hillary Clinton in October 2016. Just days after the Access Hollywood video emerged, Trump announced onstage that there has “never been anyone in the history of politics, in this nation, that’s been so abusive to women. Bill Clinton was abusive to women.” Democrats should no longer be surprised by how much Trump can get away with, nor should they expect to be treated fairly. They can’t assume that Trump’s terrible record speaks for itself – what’s obvious to them isn’t obvious to millions of other Americans.
The ability to make awful behavior look benign (and vice versa) is one of Trump’s greatest advantages. In 2016, he got huge crowds to chant “lock her up” over Clinton’s improper use of a private email server–crowds that were evidently indifferent to the fact that he publicly asked a hostile foreign power to hack his political opponent. He recently claimed to be a defender of free speech and all forms of political expression a month after calling for Saturday Night Live to be investigated for expressing the wrong political opinions. Trump has relentlessly conditioned his base to view his defiance of ethical and political norms with indifference – even approbation. This is what he was boasting about when he said he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” without losing supporters.