Sunday, October 9, 2016

Thoughts on the Leaked Trump Tape (Or The Last Two Weeks Part Two)

As I mentioned in my last post, the past couple of weeks have definitely seen a turn of events in the Presidential race.  From the first debate expectations where Clinton had to overcome allegations about her health and the people pissed off over her "basket of deplorables" comment while Donald Trump just had to (in the media's eyes) appear calm and measured.  We all know what happened though - Clinton stayed calm but goaded Trump with a series of pin pricks that showed us the Donald we all knew and witnessed for years between the campaign, the birther issue (which Trump falsely claimed he ended despite continuing to spread racist birther BS for years after Obama showed his birth certificate), and the general smugness that's become his public image.

Which leads us to the leaked Trump tape from 2005 where, on a hot mic on the Access Hollywood bus on the way to make a cameo for a soap opera (As the World Turns, I think), Trump boasted about just kissing women without their consent and that, when you're a star you could "grab them by the pussy."  While Trump supporters tried to write this off as mere "locker room talk" anyone aware of issues regarding consent can see these claims as him boasting of sexual assault while then host Billy Bush laughed along.  While this seems to be a past best by date syrup ladled over the latest round of Trump stories ranging from the revelation of losing over 900 million dollars in 1995 and thus might not have had to pay taxes for 18 years to his claims the Central Park Five were still guilty of a horrific 1989 rape even though someone else admitted to it and had their DNA on the victim (none of the Five's DNA was at the scene) which led to their exoneration in 2002 and a $41 million settlement from New York City.  While this could asily been added to the last post certain things required addressing this on its own.

First, there's the obvious.  As comedian Alonzo Bodden claimed during an appearance on the online news show The Young Turks, he's on a bus that had Access Hollywood on the side of it so "he knew there was a mic."  Given the number of career crippling, if not killing, snafus that have gone down on hot mic even by 2005, that it never occurred to Trump that has should make sure the mic is off before saying something like this is telling.  By this time he had enough experience on TV shows that he should've had some idea that the mic was on and that it could eventually leak.  For someone who, at that time, was acknowledged for his business savvy to trip up like this seems strange at best and unlikely in general.

Also of note is this - how did the Trump campaign not know about this?  At a time when almost every political candidate (including first timers) are vetted out the wazoo and things are dredged up about every mistake or every unfortunate incident about them, their friends, and their family members a tape like this should've been known about long ago.  Yes, it's true that Donald Trump didn't have much of a typical campaign structure compared to most candidates.  However, it's surprising that nobody seemed to be there for damage control in cases like this. 

Admittedly, this recording is shocking.  However, the Trump campaign for President has been a veritable smorgasbord of shocking, controversial, and nauseating statements from the candidate, both those unearthed from before his run and those he said while running for office.  There are so many things he said that would've killed the career of any other candidate but seemed to bounce off the Donald.  On first revelation it could be said that this would be like those.

But it wasn't.  In the 24 or so hours since the tape was leaked a number of Republican politicians and officials immediately disavowed Trump and his statement in light of the tape.  These range from current Congresspeople and Senators to former Presidential candidates.  While some have claimed they're still voting for him, a number of them have said they can no longer support Trump with some even calling on him to step aside and let Mike Pence lead the ticket.  In a campaign race that saw the GOP nominee imply that Mexicans were criminals and rapists, repeatedly re-tweet white supremacist memes, and state he could shoot someone in the face and not lose a single vote (and that's only a very very few examples) this says something.

So does this mean that we should stick the metaphorical form in Donald J. Trump's ass and flip him over because, in political terms, he's done?  Some have suggested so but I'm not so certain.  In a Presidential race as uncertain as this one it's possible that Trump could win the election in 30 days.  I'm not saying it's likely he will (in fact, odds are it's looking a lot less likely now than it was a week ago) but that it's not the end of the road yet.  There's still two debates (including the town hall tonight) where Clinton could possibly freeze up and do something to shift likely voters to the other side.  However, while the next two debates appear to be Hillary Clitnon's election to lose, the fact she actually prepares almost excessively will be in her favor when contrasted with a braggard who excessively panders and smears people who decided to cram at the last minute once the tape was leaked.

As for those wanting Trump gone, that may be more difficult to do.  Early voting is underway in 12 states and the procedure to remove someone from the ticket applies to death, being incapacitated or something extreme.  While the leaked tape may be extreme it also may be hard to use it to justify dumping the Donald if he doesn't want to go (and he said he won't quit); especially if the main change between him and running mate Pence if the appearance of calm rather than any specific policy differences between them.

Then there's the RNC halting operations of a victory program designed to help Trump win at the end.  While a case can be made that this sort of suspension happens when it becomes clear a candidate can't win (which would be true for other candidates), in this case it could be the political equivalent of a parent taking away a kid's allowance until something changes (whether it's some chores getting done or improved grades, etc).  I could be wrong on this but in this case either direction is a possibility.

What's truly warped about this is the reaction of those defending Trump.  The claim that this is merely "locker room banter" that "all men do" is ironic given that it comes from the same people who way too often piss and moan about feminism falsely portraying all men in the worst possible light (something pointed out by Jessica Valenti in her recent column on the subject).  Others tend to cite "religious leaders" to claim that God has forgiven Donald and we should too (overlooking the fact that one's forgiveness of this asshat doesn't absolve him or mean he's suitable for office).   In addition, Trump supporters booing politicians who have backed away from Trump reveals the end product of appealing to the most extreme of the Christian right wing as well as catering to the white supermacists demographic, a group most candidates on all sides tried their hardest to avoid - for god reason).

So, after taking all this in, is it all over for Trump?  Probably not.  However, he's at a point where he cannot afford to fuck up one moment, especially any debate. While many Trump supporters are sticking by him (including conservative Christians for reasons that both baffle and anger anyone with sense), these statements have scared off voters who were on the fence, especially female voters who may have leaned for him but were struggling with it.  As more previous statements leak out, including Trump referring to his pregnant wife as a blimp on the Howard Stern show a couple months after the time the Access Hollywood taping occurred, it's going to be more difficult to paint Trump as a "changed man,: especially when one looks at his recent statements and realizes he might not have changed very much - if he did at all.  Time will tell but voters only have 29 more days to figure it out.

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