October Surprise: Trump Caught Bragging About Sexually Assaulting Women
Leaders aspiring to the office of president are expected to set a standard that is admired universally. A leader is accountable for their words and their actions. Most of all, a leader is cognizant of the impact and influence their words and actions have on those around them. Donald Trump’s latest controversy is the absolute worst of his entire campaign. A videotape surfaced of the Republican candidate making vile remarks about women, boasting of sexual assaults he perpetrated.
The worst characteristic of the infamous Trump Tapes, is his braggadocios acknowledgment of sexually assaulting various women. Trump is likely the first presidential candidate to ever be caught on camera bragging about sexually assaulting women that don't deny his unsolicited advances because of his celebrity. Trump detailed in a 2005 interview with Billy Bush formerly of Access Hollywood, how he once pursued a married woman and “moved on her like a b-tch, but I couldn’t get there,” lamenting his failed bid to engage this married woman in a sexual relationship. Trump goes on to admit that because he “is a star,” he was permitted to “grab them by the p-ssy,” if he so desired.
Before exiting the bus that he and Bush occupied, Trump chewed breath mints claiming he, “better start using Tic Tacs in case he starts kissing [a publicist that was approaching the bus]. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait and when you’re a star they let you do it.”
The Trump campaign initially defended these indefensible tapes by rejecting them as mere ‘locker room banter.’ Why is that explanation problematic? Assuming Trump’s locker room premise was accurate (it isn’t, but let’s play along) that does not excuse his disgusting rhetoric. Trump failed another test of leadership in this instance. He had an opportunity to expose an ill in our society, specifically the cultural phenomenon within men’s locker rooms that finds rape culture language commonplace or acceptable.
By dismissing his vile rhetoric as mere ‘locker room banter,’ Trump is condoning behavior that perpetuates rape culture and encourages other men to contribute to these despicable conversations. Running for the highest office in the country requires a semblance of leadership qualities. A leader would not have deflected attention away from their own disgusting rhetoric and used a one minute scripted “apology” as an opportunity to attack political opponents.
Trump captioned the release of his “apology” on Twitter with these four words: “Here is my statement.” Statement. Not apology - statement. This could have just as easily been captioned “My Apology” or “I Sincerely Apologize” or simply, “I’m Sorry.” But Trump is incapable of that sort of higher order reasoning. His handling of mistakes is inept and usually exacerbates the problem. Not using the term “sorry” or “apology” in the actual caption was a calculated political decision (shocking coming from the alleged political outsider)
His 45-second “apology” is contradicted with his inexplicably vengeful attack against former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. There has never been a less empathetic, less reflective, or less morally unconscious person to run for public office, than Donald Trump.
His refusal to admit wrongdoing is a sign of things to come. If elected, any sign of failure within his administration would cause him to lash out and direct blame, rather than offer a measured, thoughtful response to crisis. The mountains of money he inherited, along with the privilege and power that his money derives, has shaped the person Trump is today. Power has so corrupted his sensibilities that he’s developed an infallibility complex.
Defending Trump’s message in this video – a message that indicates he is proud of taking advantage of women in vulnerable situations, by forcing himself upon them sexually – is a perpetuation of rape culture. At this point it remains unclear whether Trump could ever possess the moral aptitude to recognize the dangerousness of his speech. But one aspect of U.S. culture is undeniable – We. Are. Better. Than. This.