A leaked audio obtained and released by the Washington Post has Donald Trump commenting to media personality Billy Bush about his attempts to bed a married woman, a few months months after he married Melania Trump, his third wife. When he sees a beautiful woman, the GOP standard-bearer said, he kisses her without consent. “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” he explains. He describes a married woman who wouldn’t sleep with him by making fun of her as having“phony tits.” Then he advises Bush, “Grab them by the pussy.”
But not surprising. Not even a little bit.
1. CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta believes this may finish Trump’s presidential campaign. Utter incompetence and confirmation bias: why does anyone listen to “experts” this dense? Acosta, and I’m sure he has lots of company, apparently has learned nothing over the past year. What kind of person who currently supports Trump despite his constant vulgarity, misogyny, meanness, dishonesty, irresponsible statements and foolishness would regard this unremarkable male jerkishness as a last straw? Of course he talks like that. I never had any doubt that he talked like that, just as I never doubted that Hillary Clinton regarded Bernie’s supporters as gullible children, as a recent leak of her candid comments revealed. Did you think Trump talked about women differently than this when he was with other guys?
2. Why would talking in this juvenile, boorish and sexist manner be relevant to anything, especially in this election? It’s no secret that alpha males like Trump and many rich, powerful male celebrities are prone to this jerk-speak about women. We know Jack Kennedy, heck, all the Kennedys, regarded women as their personal playthings: do Democrats really believe Jack, Bobby and Teddy didn’t talk like this or worse? LBJ? Nixon was famously crude. And then there’s Bill Clinton: are Hillary supporters and Bill’s fans, not to mention Clinton’s allies in the news media, going to have the vapors over a Republican who says “pussy”? If so, the hypocrisy will be record-setting.
3. Is the material difference that it was caught on tape? Does a sexist tree falling in the forest make a sound?
4. Is this really how Presidential campaigns going to be fought from now on? Gotcha videos, e-mails and tapes? How ugly, petty and degrading. And frightening: nobody apparently can say anything in private that they don’t want to see in a New York Times headline. Do we really want to live in a world like that? If not, why is it fair to make political candidates live in that world? The Golden Rule applies.
5. Should the Post have published this? Oh, I think so; it’s news, sort of. The public has aright to know what it should already have known beyond the shadow of a doubt. Donald Trump is a narcissist, sexist, boor who has no respect for women and has the general life view of a very rich, very spoiled, 13 year-old. Stop the presses!
6. Trump has registered his version of an apology:
“This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”
It’s a #9 apology on the Apology Scale, a classic non-apology apology:
9. Deceitful apologies, in which the wording of the apology is crafted to appear apologetic when it is not (“if my words offended, I am sorry”).
Trump should have stopped after “many years ago.” It is an interesting statement, as once again Trump proves that he is incapable of reasoning by anything other than rationalizations. This combines #1, “Everybody does it” with #22, “It’s not the worst thing,” along with #50 A, The Underwood Maneuver, or “That’s in the past.”
What he should have said was that his comments were disrespectful of women, crude and undignified, and certainly not appropriate banter for a national leader or a role model. He should have noted that guys engage in such exchanges far too often, and they must learn that doing so entrenches sexist attitudes that impede equal treatment of women, and enable a culture that is unacceptably tolerant of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Moreover…Oh, heck, I can’t write any more: I’m giggling too hard. Trump would no more say this than he would fly to Pluto by wiggling his toes.