On one level, Donald Trump’s disgusting comments about being free to sexually assault women because he’s a wealthy celebrity are not surprising. Trump is a sexist pig, whose depravity has a bottomless bottom. No one who’s been paying attention to the presidential race, or to Trump’s past behavior toward women, can be shocked by his appalling words. The man who complained about undocumented Mexican “rapists” boasts of being a rapist himself in a sickening Access Hollywood video released Friday afternoon.
On another level, though, listening to Trump riff about trying to “fuck” a married woman and being able to “grab [a woman] by her pussy” because he’s a “star”—especially listening to the uncensored version, with the “tits” and the “bitch” and the “fuck” and the “pussy”—is sickening. Clearly this is a man who talks like this about women, at least in private with other men, all the time. He’s repellent. In case you missed it, here’s Trump in his own words.
“I did try and fuck her,” the GOP presidential nominee confessed to Access Hollywood’s slavish Billy Bush, about a woman who turned out to a producer on the same show. “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there,” He implied that rejection was rare (but we shouldn’t believe him). He tells Bush he can’t help assaulting “beautiful” women: “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
I have to interject here that Trump’s boast that celebrities who want women can “grab them by the pussy” reminded me of Steve Carell’s character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin insisting that women’s breasts (which he’d never actually touched) felt like “bags of sand.” Certainly douchebags try, uninvited, to touch women “there,” but to “grab them by the pussy,” which sounds like grabbing a bowling ball, suggests a lack of familiarity with the way women’s bodies work. I’m sure, from various accounts of his conquests, that Trump has plenty of experience with women, but experience doesn’t necessarily translate to knowledge. He sounds like a predatory lout, and also a pathetic loser. I’m pretty sure that he’s both.
Will it matter? We already know Trump is a sexist monster, or we should know. Yet the dimensions of monstrosity, the specifics of abuse, all captured on this tape, are, as always, hard to listen to, unless you’re a monster yourself.
GOP leaders who have reluctantly backed Trump over the last few months—are they monsters? I know for sure they’re cowards. House Speaker Paul Ryan huddled with his advisers for five hours, and then disinvited Trump to the first public event, in swing-state Wisconsin, at which they were expected to appear together. I felt a little stirring of respect for Ryan, and hope for our country’s future, when I heard that.