Since the second presidential debate, there have been at least eight women who have come forward with allegations that they have been subjected to unwelcome sexual attention from Donald Trump. The ongoing reports of bad behaviour by Trump hasn’t made a single dent in the confidence of many of his supporters though. Some don’t care about what he’s done and consider his racism, sexism, Muslimophobia, extreme nationalism, xenophobia, and admission of sexual abuse to be no big deal. Those who recognize he has his faults think Hillary Clinton is worse. And others are simply in denial, especially in regards to Trump’s sexual behaviour.
CNN interviewed some of his supporters at a rally in Florida following the first debate. Most Trump surrogates acknowledge the reality that he performed poorly in that debate, but his base did not feel this way:
Trump’s official surrogates have three main arguments: they dismiss what he was revealed as saying on the bus with Billy Bush as “locker room banter” and deny all unsubstantiated allegations as lies, they say that even if they’re true, they’re too long ago to matter, and they say that what Bill Clinton did was worse.
Vicki Sciolaro, Third Congressional Chair of the Kansas Republican Party, covers all this grounds. Sitting there with her big cross around her neck she said, among other things:
This is the kind of person that needs to lead our country. God can use anybody. He used the harlots, that’s the thing… It’s all about what God can do… God can use this man.
Watch as Ms Sciolaro leaves the CNN anchor speechless at one point:
Seriously? Is Donald Trump the best her god can do? I think if a benevolent god was involved anywhere in this process, he or she would provide a better candidate than Trump. I hope they ask her what they think of her god’s candidate when he loses the election. Although judging by the pairing of Hillary Clinton with the End of Days on a t-shirt in the first video, perhaps they’ll argue that this is all a prelude to the return of Jesus or something equally delusional.
Some of the support from Trump’s supporters is really pretty gross too:
Anyway, back to the actual issue of Republicans who are defending Trump and the way they are doing it – either saying it’s just “locker room talk,” it’s too long ago to matter, or that Bill Clinton did bad stuff too. There are problems with all these approaches. Most obviously, that if they’re too long ago to matter, then so are all the allegations against Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton’s reaction to them.
Secondly, even if this is just “locker room talk,” that doesn’t make it okay. A president should provide an example, and talking like that about women is not a good one. Trump has said on multiple occasions, “No one respects women more than I do.” He’s even put it in writing:
The media is so after me on women Wow, this is a tough business. Nobody has more respect for women than Donald Trump!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2016
If saying, “… when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” is an example of his respect for women, he clearly doesn’t know the meaning of the word.
Dr Ben Carson, whose own campaign to be the Republican presidential nominee was supposedly grounded by his own morality had this to say on Morning Joe:
.@RealBenCarson says 'It doesn't matter' if Trump accusers are ‘lying or not’, blames 'you people in the media' https://t.co/gPlXpenpr9
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) October 14, 2016
While defending Trump’s words as locker room talk, he’s simultaneously saying, “I would love us to bring back our Judeo-Christian values, and to begin to teach those things and emphasize them.” Hypocrite much? One anchor reminded Carson that Trump had accused Carson of paedophilia. That seemed to be something Carson would rather not talk about.
And that’s the thing with so many senior Republicans. Donald Trump has accused them of all sorts of things that there is absolutely no evidence for, and abused them and their family members in personal ways that are not relevant to their ability to be president, and yet they continue to support him. I’m looking at you in particular Ted Cruz, but he’s far from being the only one.
Thirdly, the only way Trump was ever able to try and drag Hillary Clinton down in relation to her husband’s treatment of women was via an accusation that accused her husband’s victims of lying. Now Trump is telling us that all of the women who have made allegations against him are lying and no one should listen to them.
Trump himself has added a fourth element to the argument. At a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday night he stated he’s the “… victim of one of the great political smear campaigns in the history of our country.” He went on to say:
The whole thing is one big fix. It’s one big fix. It’s one big ugly lie. It’s one big fix. The press can’t write the kind of things they write, which are lies, lies, lies.
He’s also told the crowd some of the women concerned were too physically unattractive for him to have bothered with, which is not only completely outrageous, it’s evidence of his own shallowness. And actually, if you follow his statement logically, if he wouldn’t abuse a women who isn’t attractive, then that means he would abuse one who is.
Those women are now being attacked by his supporters. Thus, assuming they’re telling the truth, they’re being re-victimized, which is one of the principal reasons so many sexual abuse victims don’t come forward.
Personally, I’ve found all the women I’ve seen and heard reliving their experience so for to be credible. It seems though that not everyone feels that way, especially Trump supporters. Many are questioning why these women didn’t come forward before, and why they’ve never been to authorities. They hear these women say that things were different then, but the younger ones in particular seem to have no understanding of that. They hear the women who sat next to him on a plane complain that he was like an “octopus” but that it took fifteen minutes for her to move, and thinks she’s making it up. When she says she never told anyone about it, they simply don’t understand why.
Well I’m here to tell her, and anyone who cares to listen, that I understand exactly how she feels, and there are probably millions of us around the world who feel the same. We are women who have been in situations like this many times back in the day, and we just put up with it because that’s what you were expected to do. So we did. And if you ever said anything, the most common response was something along the lines of: “Take it as a compliment.” Other responses included, “What’s the big deal – you got away from him didn’t you?” “He didn’t actually rape you did he?” “You shouldn’t have gone out with him.” “He didn’t hit you or anything did he?” “Just keep away from him in the future.” “He’s like that with everyone. Don’t worry about it.” “Don’t rock the boat.” I could go on. And on. And on.
The thought of going to authorities with any of these issues didn’t even cross our minds back then. Unless you were violently raped, it wasn’t considered something to complain about.
I’m not going to go into detail about all I put up with in those days. Quite apart from anything else, no one actually wants to re-live being the victim of sexual assault. I will say that the automatic responses that come to mind these days, didn’t back then. Women simply did not have the options we do now.
We were not viewed as equals by a majority of men, and we had to fight like hell for everything. But you had to be very careful how you fought, because being seen as aggressive was likely to set you back. Women my age (52) and older will know that we really did have to perform twice as well as men to be considered half as good.
Remember too, those were the days when things like marital rape and date rape were fairly new concepts and many didn’t acknowledge them. Also, a woman’s clothing and behaviour was taken into account in court, along with her sexual history.
So when a woman keeps on sitting next to a man who keeps forcing himself on her for fifteen whole minutes, just pushing him away over and over again hoping he will stop, I get it. When she says she hoped the man across the aisle would intervene, I get it. That situation is very similar to one I was in once and couldn’t get out of – there was no back-of-the-plane to escape to – it was in a crowded vehicle. However, in my case a man did intervene to help. (If you’re reading this I never really did say thank you, but you know how much I appreciate you.) And the perpetrator received a form of justice.
These days, at least in the West, most men understand that unwanted groping and similar behaviour is unacceptable, and more women are in a position where they can stand up for themselves or there are people they can turn to. We’re teaching our children they don’t have to put up with it too. There is still stuff men don’t get though. For example, a lot of them still think that wolf whistles and cat-calls are a compliment.
I suppose there might be women out there who do like them at that. However, I certainly don’t know any and back when I used to get them, I hated it every time. While some group of blokes is imagining you’re loving it, you’re just effing scared. I’m only 160cm (5’3″) tall and even when I was young and fit, it wouldn’t have taken very much to overpower me. Whether it was a single man or a group of men, the experience of being whistled at or called out to was always damn frightening. At one point my walk to work went past three building sites. The 20-minute walk took me 45 minutes due to the detours I took to avoid them. (And before you start trying to make it my fault thirty years later, shanks’ pony was the only way I had of getting to work, and I wasn’t prepared to don a burqa in mid-Summer. Which is something I shouldn’t even have had to consider anyway.)
And people wonder why I put on weight.
Now, back from another tangent to the matter at hand.
Pennsylvania is a battleground state and a must-win for Trump. The latest polls have Clinton nine points ahead, but is has been much closer. The senate race between Katie McGinty (D) and Pat Toomey (R) is currently one the closest in the country. Toomey has maintained his support for Trump, unlike many others in close races like John McCain (Arizona) and Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire). In a debate between the two, Toomey defended his support for Trump with the comment, “When someone asks for forgiveness, you grant it.” That’s a response that will play well with the electorate, but it ignores some important factors. Before forgiveness is granted, there’s an acknowledgement that there’s a problem, and then there’s contrition. Neither of those things are present with Donald Trump.
Trump and Pence say they don’t want to talk about this, they want to talk about the issues. So here are the analyses by Politifact of what they’ve been talking about after they’ve finished denying that Trump has abused women:
(You can check out the detail of each claim by clicking on the graphic.)
I don’t know about you, but this kind of record makes me think twice about believing the denials of inappropriate sexual bahaviour.
Bill Maher has this to say about Trump, and I’m not sure he’s wrong:
According to the 2005 winner of The Apprentice, there are more tapes relating to Donald Trump’s treatment of women and other out there, which NBC has been sitting on for at least a year. There is a petition at MoveOn.org to get those tapes released so we can find out if these allegations hold any water. The petition can be found here. I signed it.
As far back as February, former first lady Barbara Bush was denouncing Trump’s treatment of women. She and her husband, former president George HW Bush (1989-1993), have announced they are taking the principled stand of not voting for Donald Trump. They do, of course, continue to support the Republican party. It’s a stand many other senior Republicans are taking: they will support down-ballot Republicans but not the party’s candidate for president. It’s a stand I for one respect them for.
And I just can’t resist drawing your attention to this hilarious story that covers all the conspiracies Trump’s supporters have spread about Hillary Clinton. If people believe this stuff, it’s no wonder they believe The Donald: The hideous, diabolical truth about Hillary Clinton.
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Who knows why they came forward now.I wish it was over can’t stand Trump. I’m not going to say anymore its all been said. I wonder why i hate all this and yet i’m reading your post.What is wrong with me? Yeah i’m kinda bored watched Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Netflix is my savior till Nov 8th .Will watch CNN that day. Yeah i have to .The soap opera will have and end.
All good points, Heather. I think the hard-core Trump supporters have just convinced themselves that Trump is the only thing standing between them as Armageddon (even though that’s Hillary’s line). So it really doesn’t matter what he does, they will support him, even if, as he says, he shoots someone. I’ve had first hand experience of this on Facebook recently. I’m trying to argue rationally with people who really think Hills will institute a world government, for instance, as though that’s what her Wall St owners actually want (well, they do, but they’ve already effectively achieved it and it’s not the sort these people are afraid of, though it’s one of the sources of their problems). The extent of their irrational fear was driven home for me by the fact that they are now seriously trashing George W Bush, who up until recently could do no wrong. Now he is a “traitor” who has joined the “tyrannical socialist agenda”! Of course their delusions extend so far as to refuse to admit that Trump is likely to lose, which admittedly would require them to understand why. Instead, they say all the polls are controlled by the Democrats and of course because they know Trump can’t lose, when he does, it will be due to the grand socialist conspiracy too. These people have become unhinged and will be a problem for years to come even if Trump gets hit by a bus tomorrow.
…between them *and* Armageddon…
That’s one of the more dangerous things that Trump is encouraging – the idea that if he loses the election was rigged. He must know that a lot of those who support him really believe that. A whole new cohort will be added to the conspiracy theorists and if he’s really going to start a media company that speaks to them after the election, they’re going to have a very loud voice.
Couldn’t agree more, Heather. And as always, great cartoons!
George H. W. has actually stated that he’s voting for Hillary. So of course, the oppo’s calling him senile…I say, what a guy!
I agree with Ken: “All good points.” Wish I’d known that you were preparing this post because you might have wanted to incorporate this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_rmNJk4KEs — its from 2000 and shows Trump smooching and groping Rudy Giuliani, who’s in low-rent Dame Edna drag. I learn that Giuliani has a penchant for sometimes appearing at public functions in drag as a joke. Stephen Colbert dug it up and commented on it in one of his shows this past August.
True, the tape is a spoof made with full knowledge and consent of both parties; nonetheless, I find it exceedingly revealing in light of the recent revelations of Trump’s outrageous behavior toward women in that it shows the viewer just how he puts the moves on, and for that reason I’d like to see it go viral now. It brings up a number of other disturbing issues as well.
I think that every woman (even the pathetic woman with that appalling tee-shirt inviting Trump to grab her privates) knows damned well why the women who came forward now with their stories didn’t report them at the time or didn’t even forcefully and dramatically rebuff the perpetrator during the assault. To impugn their veracity because they waited is a completely discredited rhetorical tactic, not a question seeking a nuanced answer. For a nuanced response, see the account that Jessica Leeds, the woman who was groped on the plane, gave to Audie Cornish on “All Things Considered” http://www.npr.org/2016/10/14/497953012/jumped-out-of-my-skin-trump-accuser-jessica-leeds-on-why-she-came-forward. I think this admirably articulates the conflicts women have in such situations, especially back then. It certainly speaks to my experiences. And the arugument that it’s “just locker room talk” and “all men do that” is bogus and offensive as well. Crude boors do, but all men, most men, are not crude boors, even in the locker room.
The disgusting hypocrisy of the Evangelicals’ support for Trump gives rise to sardonic laughter on my part. Suddenly it’s “judge not, lest ye be judged.” And the quote from Ms. Scoliaro about God using anybody — harlots and such — would be hilarious if it weren’t so abysmally stupid. What happened to “character” and “family values” and all that? Religion can and does justify anything and everything. I found this discussion on a recent broadcast of the public radio program, “The Takeaway,” to be instructive. http://www.wnyc.org/story/gop-and-dems-vie-moral-high-ground.
My hypothesis, well supported I think by my personal observations, is that the sanctimonious piety displayed by the bible thumping folks so well represented by Ms. Scoliaro has little to do with love and adoration for their Jesus but everything to do with deflecting any nascent feelings of guilt or responsibility that their unethical beliefs and behavior may evoke in themselves. It is a coping mechanism that allows them to justify, to themselves, behaving like assholes. And not just justify it, but transform it into something to feel righteous about.
It is disgusting and it’s also one of the more dangerous behaviors humans engage in. It can so easily lead to things like lynchings and burnings. Especially when harnessed and stoked by an authority figure that has a knack for pushing the right buttons.
Politifact and other left-wing so-called “fact checkers” have become perverse jokes. The ICE example above is a good one. Precisely nobody mistakenly thought a federal agency had taken the unheard of and illegal step of endorsing a candidate or party — let alone the opposite party to the chief executive! There would have been no pronouncement from “fact checkers” if the same words came from the lips of a left-wing Democrat — unless they would have rated it true.
By the way, the real news is that a Republican nominee got the endorsement of any public employee union (and accepted it). That’s as bad as anything else he’s done.
Actually, there are plenty who believe they have endorsed him. The kind of nuances you are making are not ones everybody is capable of. Trump says it – they believe and repeat it.
There was a time when most Americans would have agreed that character matters in a President. That went out the window with Bill Clinton. As a country, we decided we don’t care about character, and moved on. Feminists in particular were at the forefront then in saying that policy and politics matter more than deplorable personal conduct. Anyone who voted twice for Clinton and opposed his impeachment has zero credibility to resort to a character-based argument in 2016. That’s the world we live in, and for that you can thank Bill and Hillary Clinton.
I wish there were a space on the ballot to express solidarity with survivors and to condemn vile acts. The point is, there isn’t one.
I think the problem with Bill Clinton has a large component in common with the problem with Trump. As a WaPo columnist put it – they are are of the same generation which featured both Hugh Hefner and Elvis Presley. Together with the rise of me-ism, Trump with his towers, and Clinton with his wiggle and smile, are imitating the icons of the era. The redeeming thing about Clinton is he was a great politician and policy wonk. Trump has no redeeming quality.
Americans didn’t decide character isn’t important. President Obama arguably has the most character of any president in modern history; his popularity is soaring and he was reelected twice. The office of the president was damaged far more by the antics of Nixon than Clinton. And Trump actually has no character whatsoever; he is a stark example of what “no character” looks like. Did you watch the debates? By comparison, HC showed she does indeed have character.
Your comment about Nixon actually makes my point: He was run out of office, while Bubba is still around, stinking up the joint to this day.
As for Obama, we shall learn in due course about his role in the e-mail scandal. Just remember that Nixon’s unforgivable offense was his messing with an FBI investigation.
It would be more accurate to say that Hillary was “in” character for the debates, not that she “has” character generally.
jam admits he’s voting for a dangerous asshole and knew it well before we discovered Trump likes to bragg about sexual assault. But he finds the cognitive dissonance so great that he has to make pathetic attempts to blame someone else, and not only for himself, but for all those “personal responsibility” conservatives who have also left their integrity at the door.
You call it cognitive dissonance, I call it being a grownup. In a perfect world neither of these terribly flawed people would hold any position of responsibility. But this is the choice before us, and the fact is that Clinton’s ideology represents by far the greater danger to our Republic.
That being said, my vote doesn’t count and I’m still with Hastie.
It’s pretty debatable whether encouraging dangerous assholes by voting for them is very grown up. But it is definitely not grown up to blame their failings on others as a way of making your support look less egregious, as many of your recent posts have sought to do.
To be fair, in regard to his vote for president, jam has said he’s going to write in my name twice now, and the first time explained why. It was mostly around the fact that even though he disagreed with me on pretty much every issue, he thinks I’m honest. That’s a pretty principled stand to take.
While we may not agree with a lot of his opinions, he is entitled to them. I’m more than happy for him (and anyone else with views different to mine) to keep expressing them here as long as the dialogue remains respectful and about the issues.
You and I disagree a fair bit too Ken, especially in regard to NZ politics, but I certainly respect and value your opinion and I like to think you feel the same about mine.
Heather, I really don’t think jam has jettisoned Trump for you despite his teasing!
Of course I agree with the rest, but note that if you tried to blame Hillary’s failings on Trump or the state of conservatism in general, I’d call you on it too. I think you’re wrong to support Hillary, but at least you own it and don’t make excuses. If jam is so enamored with your principled style, he could do far worse than try to emulate you a bit in this regard.
I am of the opinion that one of the reasons Obama’s favourability is so high at this stage in his presidency is the contrast he provides (especially) with Trump. George W Bush is being looked at more kindly now too because for all his faults and the disagreements people like me have on his policies, he is a decent man.
I also agree that Nixon did more damage than Clinton. Clinton’s antics look worse looking back because at the time he was in the White House, his behaviour was accepted. Remember, that while Speaker Gingrich was trying to impeach him for lying about fooling around, Gingrich was in the midst of an affair.
There have always been men on both sides of the aisle whose behaviour towards women leaves much to be desired. However, the party platform of the Democrats is much more positive and enabling towards women. The Republican stance on abortion is still no exceptions, even for rape, incest, or life of the mother. It can be argued that Trump is ahead of his party on that one.
In case it has not been noticed, There is a lot of cognitive impairment among the citizens of the UA. The second thing to notice is that especially among the women there seems to be a delayed Stockholm Syndrome I be leive was caused by prolonged exposure to a rigid standard imposed by religious beliefs.
So many of the women, during interviews, find it perfectly OK that men behave like that and treat them like second class citizens.
Agreed. So many of them, like their idiotic male counterparts are part of the supremely ignorant “god ‘n’ guns” culture that Obama was ridiculed for referencing a number of years ago. Living in western Pennsylvania, I am surrounded by these fools and I see it first hand.
BTW, slight correction for Heather – Toomey has not actually said that he supports Herr Gropenfuhrer, but neither has he said that he doesn’t. He’s trying to walk that tightrope between not offending trumpbots, which is the very base that the Republicans have courted for the last 40 years, and not offending more rational people.
And I’d like to leave you with this cartoon from last December that I think sums up the current situation so well: http://blogs.post-gazette.com/opinion/rob-rogers-cartoons/45592-trump-vader
Well said Heather. I explained to a male colleague about how as a young woman, every time I left the house, I felt like I could be raped being cat called constantly. I was even once cat called from a car speeding down a highway at over 100 km/h and once when *I* was the one in the car. I remember many times coming home in tears and I remember stopping roller blading at a park because there was someone on every single corner or hill making a remark. I got tired of cataloguing where I could go for help or where to hide if a situation escalated and in the end it wasn’t worth the anxiety. It’s so much better now that I’ve aged and I’m considered unworthy of such attention that I can actually live life like a normal person.
I think it’s the reason so many of us become new women when we get to about forty. We can finally just be ourselves and not spend so much time worrying about how men will react to us. It’s very liberating.
It’s so sad that sexism and at least the threat of sexual assault plays such a prominent role in most women’s lives. The main reason we came to NZ long ago rather than Oz was hearing from women who had traveled in both and found NZ much less sexist. Not zero, but certainly more tolerable.
I would agree we’re better than most, although small towns are behind the cities in many cases.
My mother comes around after being at the golf club in my very small town with male and female friends of her generation (65+) and they’ve been talking about things like the sexist comments made by the head of the Employers and Manufactuers Assn (or whatever it’s called) and none of them (including Mum) can see what the problem is. “He was just paying her a compliment.” I try and explain what’s wrong, but she just doesn’t get it. And she is actually better than most of her friends because she’s pretty strongly influenced by my sisters and I, and we’re all pretty outspoken. At the same time, she has never let being a woman stop her from doing anything throughout her life.
Mum sounds quite sensible. She blog?
It took her months to get around to subscribing to my blog! The thought of writing a blog would never even cross her mind – I doubt she could think of many things she would rather do less.
Thanks for this moving piece Heather.
These women who are coming forward (I think there are 12 now) are incredibly brave. In spite of the knowledge of how hateful and ignorant Trump supporters are, inciting violence and acting like rabid dogs, they still came forward. I consider them coming forward as a very dangerous decision, and I’m sure that’s not lost on them. This is another reason why I think it took some time for them to expose Trump. But after one woman speaks out, then another, past victims become emboldened. The same phenomenon happened to Bill Crosby.
Have you heard Michelle Obama’s speech regarding Trump? It’s actually a stump speech for Hillary in New Hampshire, but she segues into an evisceration of Trump. It is probably the most powerful anti-Trump speech I’ve heard during this election season, and she does it without ever mentioning his name. By the end I had tears in my eyes.
Yes – I posted it on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ with a comment about what a powerful speech it is. I would have put it into this post if it wasn’t for the length (about twenty minutes), but I certainly recommend it.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, it’s worth watching:
And Barack Obama’s speech is also pretty great:
That’s quite a shot in the arm for progressives. He tells it like it is. Nice to hear a take down of Bonher and McConnell et al after 2 terms of obstinate obstructionism. I’m sure we will hear more.
More rank hypocrisy on the part of the Obamas, who have hosted many of the most vile, demeaning and misogynistic so-called “entertainers” at the White House, a symbol of our nation.
More rank hypocrisy on the part of the Obamas, who have hosted many of the most vile, demeaning and misogynistic so-called “entertainers” at the White House, a symbol of our nation.
Yes, j.a.m., I agree it is somewhat hypocritical, these rappers are -or at least their lyrics are- vile, demeaning and misogynistic. And I do think it was not a good idea to invite them. It is all under the mantle of ‘art’ and they may be illustrating what is, and not what ought to be. Not very clear at any rate, as it should have been (if so). Honestly, I prefer Bach to rap in any case
That being said, I would be surprised if Michelle and Barack would still be keen on entertaining them if they would run for high office.
Fantastic article. Congratulations Heather.
Good article. Not sure if it’s been covered but psychology: Trump is wealthy and has influence, power, and contacts. Buys friends and allies.
When the ‘incidents’ happened it would be the victims word against his. Then the tape becomes news and everybody hears it, the women he committed the offences against have the courage to speak out knowing the world has heard Trump admit to his ‘behaviour’ with women over many years. ‘People now know what Trump is like so I can speak out’.
You would think Trump couldn’t talk his way or buy his way out of this situation but this is the US we are talking about. Now Trump is president and has more power and influence than ever before.
Unfortunately, it’s already happening. The woman who was 13 when Trump raped her has withdrawn her complaint because she’s received si many death threats from his supporters.