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:
— 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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