…and it has nothing to do with a hurricane named Matthew.
It is Trumpkins madly dissembling the latest of the innumerable Donald Trump scandals — a leaked hot-mike video in which he brags about the pleasures of sexually assaulting married women — and they are angrily asserting that Bill Clinton did the same thing. There is an element of truth to that. Clinton was and Trump is a sexual predator. But that is where the similarities end and the differences begin, and beyond the fact that Clinton is said to have a birthmark on his penis and Trump apparently does not, the differences are ginormous.
Clinton’s Oval Office dalliances (which were consensual, but that’s beside the point) nearly brought down his presidency, although to me their greatest significance was that they marked the moment in our history when Americans forswore faith in their leaders and morality for greed and decadence.
In that respect, the bar already was pretty low for Trump. But while Clinton apologized, albeit belatedly, and there appears to have been some genuine soul searching between he and the Missus, the leaked video in which Trump boasted that he could “grab them by the pussy” and get his way because he is a “star” is merely yet another instance of such behavior, his bragging over his sexual exploits is legendary, and his apology for what he said on the video was more of an attack on Bill’s Missus, which of course is exactly what he did in finally walking back from his Obama birther claims.
And should Hillary Clinton be defined by her husband? Of course not. But most importantly, it’s not 1998. It’s 2016.
What Trump said on the tape was shocking, but it was not surprising. It was not surprising that Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women (who happened to be married). And it was not merely locker room banter, as the Trumpkins vociferously claim. That is unless your own personal bar is so low that it’s quite okay that the man you want to be president is a racist, liar, tax cheat, mocker of disabled veterans and fat women, sociopath and someone who shouldn’t be allowed within a mile of the nuclear football. Or your wife’s vagina.
Gee, and I thought Mexicans were the rapists.
Trump already had been on the defensive on Friday before the leaked video was published and went viral. Earlier in the day, he told CNN that he still believed the exonerated defendants known as the Central Park Five were guilty of the 1989 rape of a woman jogger despite DNA evidence to the contrary that led to their convictions being overturned, and again asserted without evidence that the Obama administration was allowing illegal immigrants to enter the U.S. in order to vote in the presidential election.
As if on cue, there was a flood statements from Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan and the usual starched collars in Utah, among many others, to the effect that what Trump said on the video was “indefensible” or “unacceptable,” but that’s it. Meanwhile, Evangelicals shrugged. No withdrawal of endorsements, no demands that he quit the race (beyond Mike Lee and a precious few others), just throwing on the old flak jacket en masse for the umpteenth time and hunkering down until the furor over Pussygate fades. Which it of course will.
Trump running mate Mike Pence likes to talk about how he found God, but he seems to have misplaced Him in this instance.
“They’ll say, this time we got him,” Pence said of the fallout from the video. “This time we got another thing, another issue that’s come forward. Then they turn on the next television the next morning, and Donald Trump is still standing stronger than ever before and fighting for the American people.”
It is true that the Republican Party could have nominated anyone and over a third of the American electorate would have voted for that person because of their animus for Hillary Clinton. But how a political party could have allowed a profoundly toxic cretin like Trump to get so close to the presidency needs to be seriously examined after the last scrap of confetti is swept up. And Melania’s lawyers need to get going on those divorce papers.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on October 8, 2016, on Kiko’s House, a website featuring commentary by journalist and author, Shaun Mullen. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Mullen.