Hillary Clinton has long been disqualified from holding political office. From her lies to the families of the Benghazi dead to her obvious crimes regarding the handling of classified information and her attacks on the victims of Bill Clinton’s sexual assaults, Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt presidential candidate of my lifetime.
In the meantime, Donald Trump has long been undesirable and unqualified despite the hopes and dreams of his supporters and the slice of Americans foolish enough to think that the weak economic growth and poor job prospects of the Obama years were caused by free trade. But Trump has nevertheless been grudgingly acceptable to millions of American voters as the only vehicle remaining to run the Clinton campaign off the road.
Indeed, with the recent erratic behavior of Gary Johnson — I usually vote Libertarian, though I held my nose to vote for Mitt Romney in 2012 — I had been trying to find my own way to supporting Mr. Trump.
And then came Friday.
On any other day, the new revelations from WikiLeaks which prove everything we already thought about Hillary Clinton’s venality and duplicity would have been massively, perhaps irrecoverably, damaging.
But the bombshell three minute video acquired by the Washington Post from the dusty out-take shelves at Access Hollywood showing Donald Trump talking about trying to “f**k” a married woman will move Trump from undesirable to unacceptable for millions and likely represents the end of Trump’s campaign. Because trying to “move on her like a bitch” wasn’t the most offensive thing Trump said, apparently unaware that he was being recorded even though he was wearing a microphone.
In 2005, Trump was on an Access Hollywood bus with Billy Bush, who has issued an apology for “playing along” with Trump’s behavior, heading to make a cameo appearance on the soap opera Days of Our Lives. He tosses a couple of Tic-Tacs into his mouth “just in case I start kissing” actress Arianne Zucker who greets them as the bus arrives.
Why might Trump start kissing the soap star whom he’d never previously met? Because he’s “automatically attracted to beautiful (women)” and because “when you’re a star they let you do it. They let you do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Donald, I wonder if you’ve ever told your daughters that, or your wife Melania. After all, she was pregnant with your son Baron when you coughed up your disgusting little egomaniacal misogynistic hairball of a rant.
Some Republicans, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus have reacted with disgust and fury. Some Republicans, including a few senators, are suggesting (again) that Trump drop out of the race or that the party dump him. It’s almost certainly too late for that, not to mention that the uber-narcissist Trump would never agree.
Others such as Trump’s various television surrogates have attempted to offer a plausible deflection, as if there is such a thing.
A common refrain is “as a Christian, I believe Donald Trump should be forgiven if he makes a sincere apology.” An initial written statement was clearly insufficient for that standard, and Trump tried again with a video apology. You decide for yourself whether he’s sincere. You might include in your calculation Trump’s tone-deaf tweet on Saturday morning: “Certainly has been an interesting 24 hours!”
Scottie Nell Hughes, one of the most effective of the brigade of young female Trump surrogates, said on CNN on Saturday morning: “Donald Trump eleven years ago might have said some very vulgar words that I do not approve of and would in no way defend. But Hillary Clinton is a two-faced liar and time and time again her actions have shown me that she’s not the person who should be in the White House right now…” She added that no woman has actually been affected by Trump’s words. I feel bad for Scottie, forced to hang on to the mast as the SS Trump explodes and sinks.
Others such as Trump’s most stalwart supporter in the media, Sean Hannity, tried to turn the conversation to the many sexual assaults allegedly committed by Bill Clinton and the fact that Trump’s misbehavior seems about lewd words whereas Bill Clinton’s misdeeds would have landed most people in prison. Never mind that Trump appears to have admitted committing criminal sexual assault.
The problem for Trump — whose taped apology ends by suggesting that he will go down this road (including possibly during Sunday’s debate, which would guarantee him another debate loss) — is that despite the many credible stories about Hillary Clinton trying to silence the female victims of her husband’s criminal infidelities, most voters’ reaction to all of the literal and figurative Clinton dirty laundry is that “Bill isn’t on the ballot.”
Trump must try to pivot to the issues raised by the WikiLeaks releases, including Hillary’s statements in paid private speeches that she lies to the public about issues of trade and immigration and Wall Street regulation. But what undecided voter, and especially what undecided woman, will be able to watch Trump talk about anything ever again without envisioning him grabbing a woman by her genitals?
In comments to my American Spectator colleague Ben Stein’s note entitled “Trump Must Go” readers of these pages argue that in the choice between the two major-party candidates, “there is no question that Trump will be better for our country.” They decry Democratic misbehavior by multiple members of the Kennedy family. They abhor Hillary’s work as a lawyer, her laughing about being able to get a reduced sentence for a man who raped a 12-year-old girl. They talk about all men engaging in “locker room banter.” And they recognize that Hillary is “running on her genitalia card.” But as of Friday, how much of that stuff, even if true, actually matters?
Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann described the release of the Trump tape as “predictable” and “coordinated” between the Clinton campaign and the media (a charge for which there is absolutely no evidence) and argued as Scottie Nell Hughes did that Trump’s lewd words don’t impact her daily life. Seriously? You have three daughters, Michele.
When so many Trump supporters “just don’t see what the fuss is all about” when it comes to this most graphic elucidation of their man’s character it is clear that his loyal base is living in an echo chamber that’s causing them, perhaps willfully, to underestimate the political damage this bombshell has caused.
Not only will it be the dominant topic for the remainder of the campaign season — because the media will ensure it in their desperation to prevent a Trump victory — but it has pushed what should have been a multi-day WikiLeaks disaster for Hillary Clinton far down, or even off, the page and far later into the broadcasts of the liberal news organizations which are only too glad that once again Donald Trump has become the center of the conversation.
Donald Trump may have been right that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters.” But a man who would “grab a woman by the pussy” is guilty of an even more serious electoral offense, which is why Donald Trump is now just so much political roadkill.