Donald Trump‘s persistent threats to make Bill Clinton‘s decades-old marital infidelities a campaign issue aren’t about Bill Clinton. The accusation Trump is making is that Hillary Clinton was a “total enabler” — Trump’s words — of Bill Clinton’s actions, someone whose weak position in the marriage essentially allowed, if not encouraged, her husband to cheat. It’s an accusation akin to the victim shaming so prevalent in sex crimes. Just as in victim shaming, it’s a wrongheaded view. Marriage is a compact between two people and most marriages take monogamy as a core element. When one person breaks the compact, it’s not the other person’s fault.
Trump — by some accounts — often makes the same calculation in business. When he sees fit to renege on his side of a contract, he justifies it by blaming the other party for shoddy work which “enables” him to break the deal. Whether Trump is fair in assessing his subcontractors isn’t the issue here — that’s to be determined on a case-by-case basis. (Trump is likely sometimes right and sometimes not.) But the pattern of unilaterally upending a contract, whether it be cheating in a marriage of refusing to pay an architect, makes it clear that Trump takes the “enabler” role very seriously.