Yesterday, all hell broke loose in the political world, Trump Recorded Having Extremely Lewd Conversation About Women in 2005. As with every Trump outrage, there was much speculation about maybe this being the time he’s gone too far. Maybe this time the Republican establishment would repudiate him. And then: nothing.
But this one was clearly worse than usual. Trump spoke in some detail about trying to bed a married woman. Given that he admits to failure, it is clearly true. Then he speaks about his celebrity allowing him to get away with groping women. He says, “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” Whether or not that’s true seems less clear to me. But admitting to sexual assault to impress the boys is still vile. And all it seems to have cost Trump in terms of endorsements is two little known politicians from Utah.
Republican Establishment Is Outraged!
Otherwise, what we got was a lot of outrage from the Republican establishment. Paul Ryan released a statement, “I am sickened by what I heard today. Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.” Mitch McConnell released a similar statement, “These comments are repugnant, and unacceptable in any circumstance.” He wants Trump to “apologize directly to women and girls everywhere.”
Why such faux outrage? I think Brian Beutler summed it up nicely in this tweet:
GOP opprobrium rankings:
Anti-Muslim bigotry < anti-Mexican bigotry < sexism < sexual assault bragging < minor marginal tax rate hike
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) October 8, 2016
That is: bragging about sexual assault is bad, but it’s nothing when you consider that Trump would cut taxes on the rich.
But really: the recording is, in an important sense, meaningless. We’ve had well over a year of Donald Trump running for president. We all know what kind of man he is. But more to the point: his supporters know what kind of man he is. And they don’t care. They will never care. There is roughly half the Republican base (basket of deplorables) that will vote for Trump no matter what. Even more concerning is that the Republican establishment is in agreement that tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the poor more than offset anything Trump could ever do. If Trump turned out to be a serial killer, they would still support him.
Central Park Five
Meanwhile, just a day before, we learned, Donald Trump Still Thinks The Central Park Five Are Guilty. These are men who were exonerated by DNA evidence. Yet Trump just somehow knows. And he made a telling (and ironic) comment, “And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.” I’ve always found this kind of statement odd: there is a victim so we must punish someone regardless of their guilt! But that’s what “law and order” is all about: it’s an authoritarian approach to running a country — control through terrorism directed at the weakest members of society.
What I think is most interesting about this recording’s release is how it changes the dynamics of Sunday night’s debate (that I will be live blogging). Until the recording came out, Trump indicated that he was going to be calm and focused on policy. But last night, he released the following video statement that seems to indicate there is a new plan:
Basically: I’m sorry; but Bill Clinton is worse; and Hillary protected him!
What We Have Learned
So what have we learned? Donald Trump is a vile man? Nope: already knew that. The Republican establishment would feed all their mothers to hyenas in exchange for a reduction in the top marginal tax rate? Nope: already knew that too. That there is no shame on the right? Sorry. The whole thing is just more of the same. When exactly the three-fours of the country who aren’t deplorables will learn this, I cannot say.