Donald Trump has finally had to apologize for comments he made in the past disparaging women and talking about how being a celebrity has allowed him to take liberties with them. The comments were creepy and gross, and chalking them up to “locker-room talk” or “boys will be boys” is equally gross. We’ve all said crass things in our lives, but bragging about how your fame allows you to take advantage of women is beyond the pale. Hillary Clinton’s response on Twitter was 100% correct.
The most horrific aspect of these comments is that there are plenty of credible claims out there about Trump engaging in exactly the type of behavior he’s bragging about in the leaked audio. The claims from one of Trump’s former business partners and girlfriends, Jill Harth, seem particularly compelling in light of these comments.
Other Republicans have understandably lost little time in condemning Trump for his 2005 remarks, with some even removing their endorsements of his candidacy entirely and calling for him to stop running for President for the good of the party and the country. The problem for those Republicans who have endorsed Trump, however, is that they’re in a lose-lose situation. Maintaining their endorsement of Trump means that they’re going to have those comments stuck to them likely for the rest of their careers, but retracting their endorsement is going to look cowardly and politically calculated because it’s not as if Trump was an unknown quantity when they endorsed him in the first place. He’s always been a crass buffoon, so why are these comments a line too far but his other comments weren’t? There’s no answer other than these particular comments are more politically damaging to the people renouncing their support.
The relevant question, however, is who are the people put off by these comments going to support instead? For Republicans who refuse to support Trump, former Republican Governor Gary Johnson and his running mate, fellow former Republican Governor William Weld, running on the Libertarian Party ticket seem like a fairly easy fit, and certainly the most credible of the third-party candidates running. If enough prominent GOP elected officials and candidates threw their support to Johnson and made enough of a stink it would likely be enough to even get Johnson in the third debate. Certainly Johnson takes positions that might turn off average Republicans at other times, support for gay marriage, a less interventionist foreign policy, and support for marijuana legalization, but these are things that should be easy to forgive for new converts to the “Never Trump” team.
This is unlikely to happen, however, and your average voter is going to see Hillary Clinton as their only logical alternative to Donald Trump. The problem with this view is that Clinton herself is no stranger to sexual misconduct given the actions of her husband over the years. If we were simply talking about Bill’s extramarital affairs it wouldn’t be an issue, but there have been allegations of sexual impropriety, sexual misconduct, and even rape against Bill, and Hillary was one of his most effective surrogates for not only rationalizing his behavior but also silencing and intimidating the women who accused him. The BBC writes about Hillary’s response to Bill’s mistress Gennifer Flowers coming forward about their affair in the early 90’s:
In 1992, Hillary told Esquire magazine that if she had the chance to cross examine Flowers, she would “crucify her.” Taking such determined steps to destroy a woman’s reputation in order to protect her husband’s political career smacks of depressingly cynical calculation.
The Clintons hired a famous private investigator to dig up the women’s pasts with the aim of destroying their reputations. It is not clear from the Times’ reporting to what degree Mrs Clinton favoured this tough approach.
Did she drive it or just give it an accepting nod? Maybe the more relevant point is that she condoned it. Hillary also famously called Ms Lewinsky a “narcissistic loony toon,” according to a friend’s testimony. A staff member who was close to Hillary said she referred to Mr Clinton’s affairs as “bimbo eruptions”.
And there’s the problem for young women voters.
Why should the character or the sexual past of these women be relevant to the truthfulness of their claims? Indeed, Mr Clinton went on to confess to affairs with both Ms Flowers and Ms Lewinsky, after initially denying them.
By discrediting the women, the Clintons were spreading the subliminal message that it was somehow their fault more than Bill’s. What were they trying to prove – that he was led astray by sexual predators? In 2016 that sounds grotesque.
Worst of all, perhaps, are the claims from Juanita Broaddrick that Bill Clinton raped her in her hotel room and savagely bit her during the attack.
Afterwards, Broaddrick claims that Hillary wanted to see her at a campaign event she attended.
She came directly to me as soon as she hit the door. I had been there only a few minutes, I only wanted to make an appearance and leave. She caught me and took my hand and said: “I am so happy to meet you. I want you to know that we appreciate everything you do for Bill.” I started to turn away and she held onto my hand and reiterated her phrase — looking less friendly and repeated her statement — “Everything you do for Bill.” I said nothing. She wasn’t letting me get away until she made her point. She talked low, the smile faded on the second thank you. I just released her hand from mine and left the gathering.
These facts, however, are all part of a larger point about the 2016 election that I’ve been harping on for a while now, which is that almost any critique you can level against Donald Trump can also be leveled as accurately against Hillary Clinton. Any claims that Trump is a misogynist and possibly even a danger to women begs the question of why Hillary would not only consistently stand by her husband when the very same claims were being made against him but also try to destroy the women making those claims. If Trump’s comments and actions are “horrifying” and disqualifying as Clinton says they are, then her past actions in defending her husband and going after his victims are at least equally as horrifying and disqualifying.
Claims of racism by Donald Trump are numerous and well-founded, but why is Hillary Clinton not held to the same standard when she referred to black males as “super-predators” and claimed that they needed to be “brought to heel?”
When finally challenged on these remarks by a Black Lives Matter activist, Hillary is nothing more than dismissive and perturbed at being interrupted before moving back to whatever it is she was going to say as the protestor is removed from the event.
Conor Friedersdorf has made the claim that Donald Trump is a cruel and vindictive person, and should be denied the presidency on those grounds, but he then ignores all the cruelty from Hillary Clinton over the years. There is the aforementioned slut-shaming, discrediting, dismissing, and attacks against the women who have made claims of sexual misconduct against her husband, but also the blatant disregard for human life. After arming the rebels in Libya, Hillary went on national television and cackled about the fact that they brutally murdered Libyan dictator Maummar Qaddafi.
If that’s not cruel then the word has no meaning.
As for claims of dishonesty, claims that have rightfully plagued Donald Trump from the beginning of his campaign, I still maintain that the most dishonest moment of a presidential campaign that includes the narcissistic former reality television star was when Hillary Clinton tried to pretend that she had no idea what wiping a server meant.
Then there’s the fact that the State Department has released thousands of emails from Clinton’s time as Secretary of State that she tried to hide/destroy after claiming that she had released all of the emails except for her personal correspondence. This was a blatant lie, and the best defense she can muster is that using a private server was a mistake and that she “takes responsibility” for it. She seems to think that all she has to do to take responsibility for her actions is to state that she’s done so, much like Michael Scott, the oafish, though far more likable and well-meaning, boss from the television series The Office, who believes that the way to declare bankruptcy is to simply shout the word bankruptcy.
Nor will it help her credibility that portions of the paid speeches she gave to Wall Street have finally been leaked by WikiLeaks, and in one of those speeches she states, “You need both a public and a private position.” In other words, you have to lie to the voters to get anything done.
So if your position is that you can’t vote for Donald Trump for any of these reasons, misogyny, sexual misconduct, racism, cruelty, or dishonesty, but you will vote for Hillary Clinton, then you are either ignorant or engaging in partisan theatrics. Both candidates have proven time and again that they are incapable of living up to any standard of basic human decency and so to support one over the other on this basis is completely nonsensical. The only rational basis to support one over the other is to judge them based on their positions on the issues. The only problem with this is that both have proven that nothing they say can be trusted.