The Republican presidential candidate is in trouble.
It began when a hot mike tape from Access Hollywood surfaced in which Donald Trump told Billy Bush how he just starts kissing women if they meet his standard of beauty, that when you’re a star “they let you. Grab their pussy; you can do anything.” The end of the tape showed Bush asking for hugs from Arianne Zucker, the actress who inspired those remarks, for Trump and himself. In an opinion piece at The Guardian, Jessica Valenti says of this hug, “In that moment, Bush and Trump are in on a joke and Zucker is the punchline.”
Making a dirty joke out of a woman who is totally unaware of what has gone on before is the real obscenity, not the word pussy, yet I have not seen outrage over this hug anywhere near the outrage over the use of the word.
A lewd word drew more criticism than all the abuse of women that came before.
Billy Bush has lost his job because of that tape. NBC has agreed to pay out his contract in order to keep him off the air.
Some Republicans wanted to do the same thing with Trump, but their party rules say this can only be done by the candidate stepping down, which is one thing this candidate will never do. This candidate believes he is always right and those who don’t agree are enemies.
Since the release of the tape, Trump has repeatedly called his comments “locker room talk,” although many athletes have come forward to say it’s not the talk in their locker rooms. Valenti, however, points out that the men were not in a locker room; they were at work. And this is not simply locker room talk; it is boasting about assaulting women. Maybe Trump was thinking of the high school locker room in Steubenville after the drunken party rape of an unconscious girl by high school athletes, who also filmed it. Perhaps the modern equivalent of such boasting is filming sexual assaults and sharing the video on social media.
However, nothing in this tape surprised me. When it first was made public, I posted the following on Facebook:
I don’t get it. There is nothing — not one single thing — in this tape that I didn’t already know about Donald Trump from the way he has conducted himself throughout this campaign.
Why is everyone acting as if it’s a revelation?
- This is a man who spent time in a presidential primary debate arguing about the size of his penis and his sexual prowess.
- This is man who said no one would vote for Carly Fiorina because of her face.
- This is a man who, after Megyn Kelly asked him a about his treatment of women (long before this tape aired), talked about her probably bleeding from her eyes, her “wherever.” He also called her a bimbo and “a lightweight.”
- This is a man who could be baited into insulting rants toward women as different as Rosie O’Donnell and Alicia Machado.
- This is a man who ignores all the accomplishments of his woman opponent, denigrates her looks, and blames her for her husband’s infidelity.
So what exactly is different now? That he uses the word pussy? An adolescent vulgarity if ever there was one!
Trump had even used the word pussy about Ted Cruz for not being hawkish enough about waterboarding suspected terrorists.
The real obscenity is that for a year the Republican party watched all of this behavior without batting an eyelash. Even now, Trump’s supporters are saying it was only words. But it wasn’t only words — the tape included behavior that demeaned and objectified a woman who was only doing her job by participating in this publicity spot for Trump’s appearance on her soap opera.
And it was part of a pattern of behavior. The woman Trump hired to oversee the building of Trump Tower, who worked for him for 18 years, says he treated her decently, but could be hyper-sexual, talking about sexual conquests at random times, even in business meetings.
Hats off to the Bush family, which openly refuses to support Trump for president, although I wonder what they think of Billy Bush’s part in the tape.
Hats off to Melissa Gesing, who resigned as chair of the Iowa Republican Women so she could continue to look in the mirror in the morning.
I would say hats off to those Republicans who withdrew support after the tape aired, but what on Earth took them so long? I think they were offended more by the word pussy than by the behavior Trump was describing. They certainly did not react with such strong condemnation as he repeatedly demeaned women throughout his campaign. A lewd word drew more criticism than all the abuse of women that came before.
As for the women who have come forward (the number currently is 12) to say that he was telling the truth and tell their stories of his unwelcome sexual advances — I refuse to call them “accusers” — I find their statements corroborative more than anything else. Why believe his denials now when he has something to lose, but not his boasts in 2005?
In a separate but related story, a new witness came forward in New York, and Jerry Epstein and Trump will now face charges of child rape. Charges were originally brought by the victim and dismissed in California. These charges have to do with a series of parties at Epstein’s New York mansion during which both men allegedly had sex with the girl and a friend, who had been offered money and a modeling career.
Men are also coming forward with accounts of Trump’s parties in the 1990s, where he made cocaine and young models, some of them underage, available to rich men as perks for being high rollers at his casinos, or lures for potential buyers of his condos. As Michael Gross recently wrote in the Daily Beast:
The morals of Donald J. Trump, as a longtime model lover and then a modeling agency owner, were forged in another era, one in which young girls were used as a sort of currency between men doing business with one another.
On that bus, Donald Trump was boasting about predatory behavior that he had engaged in for many years.
Behavior that makes a man unfit for the office of President of the United States.