Earlier this year, during the primary season, a friend of mine–LF–who was one of the original “Trump Cultists”–I shall refer to them as the TrumpTrain–insisted that Trump was the only GOP candidate who could win. He insisted that Trump’s baggage was no big deal, as he was honest about his extramarital affairs, and “his life is an open book”. To him, Trump could do no wrong. To LF, Trump was the only true “outsider” running for the office.
Fair disclosure: I did not vote for Trump in the primary; I voted for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). I did not vote for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) because, by the time that the Kentucky primary arrived, Rand had all but pulled out of the race, as his delegate count was low and his funds were tanking. Trump took Kentucky by a large margin.
I had the following issues with Trump at the outset:
(1) Trump’s record on life, liberty, and property issues is nebulous at best and abysmal at worst. He supported abortion rights until 2008, or at least that was his first articulation of a pro-life position. On gun rights, he is iffy at best, as he has not lifted a finger against the SAFE act in his home state. And on property rights, his abuses of Eminent Domain are legendary.
While his newly-found support of the pro-life cause is admirable, it’s hard to “trust but verify” when there is nothing to verify. Others, such as Cruz and Paul, had solid records on matters of life, liberty, and property.
(2) While many Trump critics have spent no small amount of energy comparing him to Hitler, I have long-maintained that such a comparison is very unfair: if anything, Trump is more like Napoleon. His arrogance, combined with his nationalism, are Napoleonic, for both better and worse.
(3) His platform, on balance, reflected support for a large government. We need that like I need another hemmorhoid.
(4) While he was honest about his extramarital affairs, he has been largely unrepentant about them. This is problematic in that, when you are dealing with a man (or woman) with that kind of baggage, the sexual matters are just the tip of the iceberg, and are reflective of character issues far more troubling.
My concerns were validated last week, when footage of Trump surfaced, in which he bragged about (a) making moves on a married woman, (b) his brazen moves “just kiss them”, and (c) “[grabbing women] by the p***y.”
The defense from the Trump camp, and Trump himself: this was “locker-room talk”. And while this almost certainly was “locker room” in the sense that it was likely pure BS–as many high schoolers brag about conquests in locker rooms, and those stories are 99% BS–it still reflected his own personal depravity. Jesus said it Himself: it’s what comes out of your mouth that defiles you, as it reflects a myriad of corruption.
This, of course, has ignited a firestorm among voters of all sides: Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, and everything in between. What I find interesting is the way that the left and right have switched sides over the years.
(1) When JFK deflowered Mimi Alford–an 18-year-old virgin before she began working in the White House–and then passed her off to “take care of” (perform oral sex on) his associates, character didn’t matter.
(2) When Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) killed one of his staffers, character didn’t matter: Massachusetts voters kept electing him until his death, and Senate leaders made no effort to remove him from the Senate.
(3) When then-Governor Bill Clinton (D-AR) whipped out his tallywhacker in front of Paula Jones, a state employee at the time, and told her to “come kiss it”, character didn’t matter.
(4) When then-President Bill Clinton was ejaculating all over Monica Lewinsky, character didn’t matter.
(5) When then-President Bill Clinton lied to the Grand Jury to deny Paula Jones her day in court, character didn’t matter.
(6) When Hillary Clinton commandeered the character assassinations of every woman, including Paula Jones, who came forward to accuse Bill of wrongdoing, character didn’t matter.
They lectured us then:
“It’s only sex!”
“It wasn’t even sex. It was a b***job!”
“This doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment.”
“It was only in a civil suit.”
Reporter Nina Burleigh summed up the left in one sentence: “I’d give Clinton a b***job just for keeping abortion legal.”
The worst fallout from Clinton’s scandal: younger folks were paying attention to Clinton’s argument that “oral sex isn’t really sex”, as the percentage of teens engaging in that act soared like a rocket into orbit.
Now, given their outrage at Trump over p*ssygate, I’m finally glad to see that liberals have decided that character does indeed matter.
The right, however, is not without their duplicity in this.
Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) was well-known for his sexual conquests. But that didn’t stop the House of Representatives from making him their Speaker.
And make no mistake: that choice of Gingrich for Speaker was indeed fateful, as he was impotent to call out the President during the Monica scandal, as his own baggage was similar to Clinton’s.
Character didn’t matter to them then, so they were in no position to demand that it matter when Clinton’s scandals blew up.
Other prominent Republicans had their affairs and/or perversions come to light: Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID), Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL). With few exceptions, Republican leadership failed to crack the whip and force resignations.
Character didn’t matter in their ranks, so they were impotent to demand that it matter for Clinton.
When Gingrich stepped down and Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA) took over, we learned of his baggage. While he did the right thing and resigned, the larger issue is why he put himself in that position in the first place?
Even worse was Livingston’s successor: Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL). As Speaker, he fashioned himself as a dealmaker. But I was very suspicious of him for two reasons: (a) he did nothing to oppose the runaway spending during the Bush years, and (b) in 2006, as Speaker, he got CAUGHT attempting to cover up Foleygate. (The fallout from that is why the GOP lost the House in 2006.)
What we didn’t know at the time: Hastert, as Speaker, was two gunshots away from the Oval Office, ALL WHILE CONCEALING HIS PAST INDISCRETIONS AS A CHILD MOLESTER. He is now doing federal prison time for attempting to circumvent banking laws–that he helped write–in order to cover them up.
It is exactly this kind of duplicity among conservatives that has given birth to the alt-right. If they would compromise their marriages for some sex with scantily-clad staffers (or, worse, children), then there it is easy to see why they would compromise on other critical matters, like spending, immigration, abortion, and even anti-terror policies.
Against that backdrop, Trump–for all his baggage–is Mother Teresa.
The same left that covered for Bill Clinton, and even attacked women like Paula Jones–who, according to the record of events, was a victim of sexual harassment–in an attempt to deny them their day in court, has now decided that Trump’s braggadocio reflects character that renders him unfit for office.
The same right that correctly insisted that Clinton’s offenses rendered him unfit for office, are now insisting that Trump’s known baggage does not render him unfit for office.
My take: Trump is what the GOP deserves. He is where he is because Republican leaders–like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)–have talked a great talk while handing Obama almost everything he has demanded, including ObamaCare funding. They have insisted on open borders and job-sucking trade deals that enrich everyone but Main Street. They have proclaimed their support of conservative moral values, but coddle adulterers and child molesters.
They have handed Trump the stick, and he is now beating them with it.
As for the left, I’m glad they have decided that character does indeed matter.
If both sides would apply that standard and dismiss their respective nominees, we might get a better outcome.
As for now, America gets what she deserves.