There’s always been a whiff of carnal depravity about Donald Trump, the man who talks up the voluptuous qualities of his children and whose great contribution to Atlantic City was opening its first strip club/casino. Now we know there’s a good chance he’s guilty of repeated sexual assaults. Natasha Stoynoff, a longtime reporter for People magazine, writes about being accosted by Trump during a visit to Mar-a-Lago in 2005:
We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.
Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger — a looming figure — and he was fast, taking me by surprise and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.
The butler informed us that Melania would be down momentarily, and it was time to resume the interview.
Like many victims of sexual aggression, Stoynoff initially tormented herself over the incident, at least until that 2005 video of Trump boasting like some lecherous Genghis Khan was released last week. Stoynoff realized then that she’d done nothing wrong, that this was how Donald J. Trump—the Republican nominee for the most powerful office in the world—regularly behaves.
Two other women have since come forward to the New York Times alleging that they were sexually assaulted by Trump, one while sitting next to him on an airplane and the other after she introduced herself in an elevator. The latter woman’s story was corroborated by her sister, who received a wrenching phone call from the victim shortly after Trump’s advance. Questioned about his hooligan conduct by the Times, Trump could muster up only that the reporter is a “disgusting human being,” which may the most standout case of projection that psychologists ever analyze.
Ah, but we #NeverTrump sorts are just tut-tutting Acela Corridor schoolmarms! Wimpy crypto-Clintonian turncoats! Who gets agitated about sexual assault, anyway? Except, of course, many of Trump’s conservative supporters, who have spent years rightly criticizing Bill Clinton’s depraved conduct towards women, including his blood-gushing advance on Juanita Broaddrick. So now the conservative soul really has been put on the market wholesale. Trump’s apologists have already mortgaged out their principles, policy positions, and virtue; now they’ve become a mirror image of that they once loathed, the 1990s-era Democrats, willing to forgive the Clintons anything including rape. Their defense is that, well, now their guy has merely become as immoral as his opponent, as though that’s an excuse that’s ever been taken seriously outside the elementary school playground, and as though it exhibits anything less than a tacit willingness to dismiss sexual assault.
Thus did we get the pathetic and demeaning spectacle of Republican Congressman Brian Babin on CNN this morning declaring that 1.) the American people don’t care about sexual assault because they’re focused on the issues, and 2.) the American people are far more concerned with Bill Clinton’s transgressions. That there’s more than a whiff of contradiction about those two propositions should show that the Trump Train is running out of coal, but Babin’s first proposition is striking: his “no one gives a damn because they want the border secured” line is essentially the less vulgar version of Nina Burleigh stating in 1998 that she’d “be happy to give [Bill Clinton] [oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal.”
Personal conduct doesn’t matter. Lawbreaking is shrugged away. All that counts is advancing one’s football into the opposing party’s territory. But even there, Trump won’t deliver. Immoral liars are the first to sell out their team, and just as the posterity-obsessed Bill Clinton caved repeatedly to the Republican Congress, so will Trump prove an ineffectual vassal of conservatism—he already has.
This is a sludge campaign that poisons all it touches.