Donald Trump’s latest October surprise, a “gotcha” video of him bragging that he could openly fondle beautiful women because he was a TV star, should not be the ultimate proof that he is unfit to be president. To be sure, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Bill Clinton all acted as badly or worse even while in office, but two of them turned out to be pretty good presidents.
No, the proof of Trump’s unfitness for office should rest on the fact that he has no clue about global realpolitik, that he hasn’t an inkling of the restraints on presidential power, that he refuses to acknowledge the need to work with Congress, that despite allegedly being a real-life billionaire he doesn’t know how the U.S. and world economy work, and that he is utterly ignorant of the U.S. Constitution. Those all are proofs that he would be a horrible president. Those are the things for which Republicans should have condemned him and urged him to withdraw from the race long ago.
But no, it is the video of Trump’s gutter talk that is proof that he is a bad man and that he’ll never be a good man, and that his badness as a human cannot be be separated from his badness as a presidential candidate. This offense should be a distraction from his unfitness for the presidency; instead he’s chosen to again prove, as he has over and over, that he has no regard for females as human beings and that he doesn’t regard them as being equal to him in any way.
Nor does it surprise me to read the headline “Some evangelicals still back Trump despite lewd video” in the Washington Post. Ralph Reed has never been an advocate of women’s equality, and the entire ultra-conservative christian culture is founded on the concept of male supremacy over females. Wives are to submit to husbands, and fathers own the bodies of their daughters until given as gifts to sons-in-law; mothers are revered as paragons of paternalistic virtue and fathers are emulated and adored as leaders and lawgivers. I doubt that Ralph Reed, the very picture of white male rectitude, would ever clamp a hand over a woman’s crotch, but it’s a sure bet he’d completely fail to recognize it as the humiliating, intimate assault that it is.
Women have little or no real value in either Trump’s world or Reed’s. They exist to please men and have babies, and beyond that they aren’t worth much. Copping a feel here and there, deplorable as it is, is only part and parcel of the utter dismissal of basic human rights of women that both men have exhibited.
When exposed, Trump uncharacteristically offered an apology for his decade-old action, but it was that apology that underlined the ultimate proof of his unfitness for the office he seeks. Unable to face America for what he’d done, he released a privately taped statement in which he made a half-hearted apology for being a bad boy, and then launched into a tirade about why Hillary Clinton and her husband are even worse.
Clearly, the man is unable to accept responsibility for what he did. It doesn’t matter the size of the offense; what matters is his inability to recognize that this transgression is his and only his to acknowledge, that it is not tied in any way to his political aspiration and it has absolutely nothing to do with the Democratic candidate for president or her family. His attempt to politicize his apology, to use the moment to deflect the responsibility he should be accepting, illustrates the real reason Donald Trump is unfit for any elected office. Don’t look for any sign on Trump’s desk saying “The buck stops here.”
In the days since the video was released, it became clear that Trump still didn’t understand that he had admitted to sexual assault and adultery. The mere touching of intimate parts of a person’s body is akin to sexual relations. For a married man to fondle the body of a woman not his wife, or to cause himself to be fondled by another woman, is a betrayal of his marriage vow as surely as if he’d bedded her. And if she did not specifically ask to be fondled, it is sexual assault. Men go to prison for what he bragged about doing.
It had to get this bad before the Republicans spoke out, en masse, against this wretched excuse for a candidate and urge him to leave the race. It is nothing short of bizarre that this will be the moment, an unguarded open-mic moment from a decade ago, that sinks his presidential aspiration.
What does this say about the Grand Old Party? Trump has insulted John McCain for having been a POW, childishly mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovalesk, arrogantly and ignorantly vowed to take actions that are de facto illegal and unconstitutional, and none of those has caused an uproar among Republicans as has this sex scandal.
How bizarre that, for the party that repeatedly and openly dismisses women’s rights, sex is the thing that causes Trump to slowly spiral into the ground, trailing smoke, unwilling even to bail out.