I cannot begin to say how sad I am as I write this. At first I was angry but, very slowly, that anger dissipated into sadness. It’s not about my personal or professional life or that my parents are getting sicker by the day. Or that my cat is losing weight and no one can figure out why. Yes, those things sadden me but that’s not what’s on my mind right now.
It’s about the disgusting, despicable, degrading, demeaning, deeply disturbing comments and actions that have come out on the political front over the last 24 hours. I refer, of course, to the latest stupidity to have come from the mouth of a certain Republican presidential candidate.
Let’s not get into what, precisely, he said again. If you haven’t heard or read the comments and you’re interested you can read excerpts or even watch it yourself. What’s troubling, other than the fact that he admits to sexually molesting women – and laughing about it – is the “apology” and the response to said “apology.” That response is almost as disgusting as the comments themselves.
I refer to the attempted justification for not being offended. First, we have Trump’s explanation that ‘the Clintons were worse!’. What that fails to acknowledge is that IT’S NOT ABOUT HILLARY CLINTON. It’s HIS comments, not anything she did or said. He’s the one that said when you’re a celebrity you can get away with groping women. He’s the one that hit on a married woman after having just gotten married for the 3rd time. It was not Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton. Donald Trump said it, no one else.
This explanation, that ‘the Clintons were worse!’, has been jumped on by all sorts of Trump supporters. Because ‘Bill Clinton is/has been worse’ Donald Trump, CURRENT candidate for President, may be excused. Trump is, somehow, cleared of the indecency of the comments. Ralph Reed said in response to Trump’s asinine comments were “I think a 10-year-old tape of a private conversation with a TV talk show host ranks pretty low on their hierarchy of their [Evangelical Christian] concerns.”
But what’s worse, in my mind, is the hypocrisy from religious leaders, including Reed, et al., about all this. Hillary Clinton gets pilloried by religious types who, for some odd reason, think she’d diminish religious rights. Um, excuse me, but isn’t Trump the one who wants to set up a religious litmus test for people coming to this country? What makes the Religious Right think he won’t, at some point, come after them too?
Irrespective of that, what too many religious leaders are saying, specifically those of the Christian Right, is that we’re all flawed, we’re all sinners, and he’s apologized and he’s not the same man he was and, by the way, that tape – made without his knowledge 11 years ago – does not reflect on the man he is today. He’s changed. He’s apologized and is forgiven because we have a just, loving god.
Let’s unpack this.
If you’re concerned about religious liberty and freedom to worship, perhaps you should consider the comments of people, particularly when one person has made numerous comments that will precisely limit the rights of people of a specific religious group. Or is it okay to restrict the rights of a non-Christian person or people when you’re a Christian and, ostensibly, won’t be affected? Recall Martin Niemöller’s poem:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
and then tell me that Christians shouldn’t be worried about this person’s expressed ideas.
Next, the idea that he’s changed, that he no longer thinks or acts like that, is simply ludicrous. Is that a serious statement? Really? He’s made disparaging remarks about women throughout the campaign. His constant references to women’s appearance (like Carly Fiorina, remember that?) and Hillary Clinton herself (“doesn’t look” presidential). How can those be taken other than as demeaning women, that they don’t have anything to offer other than appearance (and the appearance has to meet Trump’s standard of beauty yet)? Isn’t it a fair read, especially in light of the 2005 comments, that he thinks it’s only men who look presidential? Not to mention his doubling down on his past comments – recent, nasty, snide comments – about Rosie O’Donnell and the former Ms Universe. He simply plows ahead, keeps saying the same thing, albeit slightly more politically correct than on the Access Hollywood tape and we’re to think he’s changed.
What about his (in)famous comment about Megyn Kelly, the one where he said “she had blood coming out of her . . wherever” (emphasis in original)?
All these comments show a changed man? Someone different from that demonstrated on the 11 year old tape (as though the tape’s age makes any sort of difference).
What we’ve seen is a persistent and consistent trait and quality: he thinks of women as little more than sexual objects to be talked about as though they were or are possessions and not dignified human beings.
What’s most troubling about the Religious Right’s reaction (or almost singular lack thereof) is that they try to portray themselves as having the moral high ground. For years, they’ve carped on the need to change the tone in Washington and that we “need a restoration of ‘family values’.” That we need to have leaders of high moral character and that our leaders’ moral character is of the utmost importance.
In what way is Trump’s calling a woman a “b*&#h” and saying he’d grabbed women by the “p%*#y” demonstrative of high moral character? How can anyone say that he’s still a better candidate when he talks about women like that, and admits he’s treated women like that?
How can anyone continue to take the moral high ground when he dismisses those comments by saying that they’re 11 years old, he hasn’t said or done anything like that since, and he’s apologized? We’re all sinners, so what’s the big deal?
If you have to ask, then your own moral compass is out of whack, and your moral authority is in serious question. You no longer have any moral authority whatsoever. When Trump speaks like that about women – and continues to do so, even as he claims to “have changed” – he does not have the character necessary to lead the country. Period. Supporting him is simply untenable. And the Religious Right has similarly ceded whatever position and authority it has by simple virtue of shrugging off the behavior and comments of this small, petty man.
Lest we forget, as we hear in the tape, he tried to hit on a married woman when he’d just gotten remarried. And that happened after having divorced 2 wives after having had affairs. Multiple philanderers do not change, they simply learn to hide their affairs better.
Furthermore, he’s made disparaging comments about Latinos/Mexicans, Muslims, Gold Star families, war heroes and POWs, ridiculed the handicapped and, as just noted, has made so many nasty comments about women to beggar the imagination.
That’s not the behavior of a changed man. That’s the behavior of a spoiled, rich, sociopath who thinks that his large checkbook will enable him to get out of whatever trouble he’s in, get him elected, and has taught him that he’s untouchable when it comes to his personal behavior and belief.
Anyone who has a mother, sister, wife, or daughter should be appalled and disgusted by the comments. Anyone who has a woman in his life in any capacity should repudiate in the strongest terms the man who made the comments, apology or not. Anyone who cares about the dignity of people, period, should turn away from the “man.” Particularly when you reflect on the whole of his campaign, his comments, behavior, and interactions you must conclude that this is a disturbed man who is unable to empathize (let alone sympathize) with anyone and is unchanged and unrepentant, no matter what words he might mouth and how.
The tenor, tone, and attitude struck in the apology were defiant, angry, and totally unconvincing. He hasn’t changed and never will. He has repeatedly shown his (lack of) character and is unfit for the presidency. Trying to point to someone else and say ‘but Bill [Clinton] did it first’ does not excuse, let alone justify, his behavior.
The measure of a man is how he behaves when no one is watching. These tapes give a pretty bloody good measure of the man.
Enough is enough.