Come along with me, people, because it’s already time to look ahead to the second debate. Consider this thought: Hillary Clinton took Donald Trump to the house Monday night without even playing some of the heaviest cards against him.
What did come up in the realm of Trump dirt? Really, just two things: his failure to pay income taxes, and his sexist remarks. They spent a lot of time on the taxes, and Trump’s eye-popping remarks that “It would be squandered, believe me” seemed an oblique admission that he has not paid any net federal income tax. Then Clinton zinged him on his comments about the former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, comments that Trump so coarsely doubled-down on the next morning.
Now consider: What didn’t come up? Loads of things:
Trump University. In a lifetime of scams too numerous to count and too appalling to rank, this may be Trump’s biggest scam of all. Many people lost their money and got nothing whatsoever out of it. There are depositions that have been made public in which Trump U. employees admit they were under instructions to give students a very hard sell and sometimes to lie to them. Then of course there’s the whole way that the states of Texas and Florida dropped their investigations of it, after donations from the…
Trump Foundation. By now you know all about this bogus enterprise, thanks to the great reporting of David Farenthold of The Washington Post. I would imagine there’s more coming, possibly having to do with the kinds of business relationships Trump had with the leading donors to the foundation (a ticket-scalper? Come on.). But even if there’s not more coming, there’s material aplenty already, from the serious (the apparent, and apparently illegal, self-dealing) to the comic (the two grandiose portraits of himself the charity spent tens of thousands of dollars to purchase).
Deport-em-ghazi. Moderator Lester Holt didn’t ask about Trump’s vow to create a giant police force to round up and deport 12 million people, and Clinton didn’t mention it. Surely she’s not going to let the debates pass without this getting a full airing.
Modelgate. And speaking of undocumented workers, one of the better scoops of this season that failed to get the oxygen it deserved was this amazing report by James West in Mother Jones about how young female models in Trump’s employ were working in the country illegally and were treated worse than many people treat their dogs. Only one of these women talked to West on the record, but this is a story that would sicken the women watching the next debate, and the men with consciences, too.
Ripping off contractors. Clinton did go into a bit of that Monday night, in the passage where she included the surprisingly personal (however brief, like four words) mention of her father’s drapery business. There’s so much more here though. There are many real human beings involved, and they haven’t signed non-disclosure agreements, mostly, and they’re willing to talk. Just as Clinton’s mention of Alicia Machado—the former Miss Universe Trump referred to as “Miss Piggy”—personalized his sexism and shone that much brighter a spotlight on the issue, if she were to cite a small-business person or two who were just blatantly ripped off by Trump, like maybe this guy, it could really take him down. The guy could be the Joe the Plumber of 2016, with the crucial differences that he would be known by his actual name and profession.
There’s tons more. Here’s a partial list. And I’m guessing that the Clinton team has done the its oppo work. Think how this could get under Trump’s skin. An early mention of Trump U., with a bonus name-check of Judge Gonzalo Curiel, would start things off nicely.
Now of course there’s a lot of old Hillary material that didn’t come up either. She skated through the email server very fast, and Holt didn’t press the point. That may come up again. Trump didn’t raise Benghazi. There’s no actual scandal there, but he will say there is, and she’ll be on the spot to defend it. And there’s the Libya invasion in the first place, which isn’t a scandal but can be made to reflect poorly on Clinton’s judgment. Martha Raddatz, a very experienced foreign-policy journalist who’s co-hosting the second debate, is unlike to let Hillary skate past that one.
And finally of course there’s Monica and whatever other alleged Bill Clinton paramours or (as the right would have it) victims. That’s probably where Trump was going during the debate, when, right after that mention of Rosie O’Donnell, he said: “I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate. It’s not nice.”
Next time, he’ll say it. By his logic, even though he interrupted her repeatedly, he held back, and he lost, so he’ll think why hold back anything? But Clinton should be more than ready. She has plenty of rounds in her magazine that she didn’t fire Monday.