Trump: pointlessly denying the obvious

The Thinker by Rodin

I recently rewatched Titanic, the 1997 film about the doomed ship of the same name starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. My timing was curiously ironic, given Trump’s rapidly sinking campaign for president. Unlike the Titanic, the Trump campaign has struck many icebergs these last few months. It hit the fatal one eight days ago with the release of the 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording.

At least the Titanic grazed its iceberg. The crew did see it coming, just too late to avoid scraping it. Captain Smith’s error was strategic: traveling too far north for the season. The Trump campaign can’t claim their radars weren’t on. Its collisions were all easily avoidable. Then again Trump is an anomaly: a candidate who thinks running a campaign for president is like playing a game of bumper cars and the candidate that hits the most cars wins.

It took less than two hours to sink the Titanic. It will take November 8 to make this sinking official but of course the water is now well above the bow and only the smokestacks are still above the sea. While passengers tried to get into the few lifeboats on the Titanic, the fiddlers (a string quartet) literally played on and on. It didn’t do much to calm the nerve of the passengers, but it did perhaps help these musicians calmly meet their demise. So unsurprisingly there has been a lot of fiddling these last few days on the deck of the S. S. Trump.

More women came forward this week alleging that Trump sexually assaulted them. These reports are coming so quickly it’s hard to keep up with them all. Any campaign would deny them of course, but an astute campaign might make some general statement that these charges are baseless while attacking Clinton instead. It’s not like there aren’t stories out there they could use, such as some more scattered WikiLeaks emails from Clinton campaign officials. Of course with Captain Trump in charge, there was no such possibility. He had to bite back at these women: they are all without merit, they are out for publicity and some of them are really ugly so why would I even try? It’s his last point that took already furious women and made them even more so. In Trump’s mind women are objects for his pleasure, not human beings.

Trump probably understands he is destined to lose. This explains why he is already expressing bogus concerns about a “rigged” election and is asking his supporters to watch polling places. He also seems to be sanctioning violence if he loses; after all if it’s all “rigged” then civil unrest is justified. (Inciting violence is a crime, BTW.) It’s wholly unsurprising that Trump would stoop to such depths because he has a history of it. He is incapable of admitting that he is at fault for his sinking campaign.

Similarly, he can’t admit his own problems with the sexual harassment, sexual assault and the possible rape of a 13-year-old girl. Naturally, it’s all “locker room talk” (although I never heard any locker room talk like this, and he was on a bus when he made his remarks to Billy Bush.) His sexual harassment lawsuit was settled without an admission of liability. Women claiming he assaulted them are lying and even the friends they told the story to at the time are part of a great conspiracy against him.

Bill Clinton too was known to have played the field, although his field was much smaller and those that occurred fell more into the field of infidelity than sexual harassment. Like Trump, Bill Clinton did settle one lawsuit out of court. At the time Republicans went apoplectic at these murky allegations. Lying under oath about a consensual affair with Monica Lewinski was enough to get him impeached, but not convicted. The silence from today’s Republicans about what looks like a much larger problem with their chosen candidate is pretty deafening. Unlike Clinton, who could be discreet and cover his tracks, there is plenty of evidence that Trump’s mindset was that because he was rich and well known he was entitled to use a woman any way he wanted. After all, how could they deny his charismatic personality? He said pretty much this to Billy Bush: “I don’t even wait,” he told him.

His claims then that he never engaged in any of this behavior strains credulity at best and sounds wholly ludicrous at worst. Unfortunately for Trump these sexual assaults sound consistent with his character. It certainly is possible that a few of these women are lying but they can’t be all lying. There is too much corroborating evidence to seriously think none of these incidents ever happened. Moreover, Trump’s own “locker room talk” and his recording with Howard Stern say otherwise, not to mentioned documented incidents like his venturing into the Miss Teen USA dressing room while contestants were undressing.

We’ll see the magnitude of his loss on November 8. I feel a tsunami approaching. I think it will come mostly from women out to make a statement: we’re not going to take his kind of crap from any candidate anymore. It may turn Congress blue.

Trump’s defeat should be an accountability wake up call for the man, which would be a first. But it’s quite clear that when his ship is going down he wants the crew to be the ones that drown. Trump gets a lifeboat of course and it will be gold-plated.

Now Trump is really toast

The Thinker by Rodin

This was supposed to be the October Surprise month when we learn something new and nefarious about Hillary Clinton that makes us pull the lever for Donald Trump instead. Julian Assange (founder of WikiLeaks) though failed to deliver on Tuesday. I wasn’t surprised. Hillary’s political sins were always of the venial variety and to the extent they happen you kind of know where they will fall.

October’s real surprise turned out to be the spectacular way that Donald Trump’s campaign has imploded over his own missteps, hubris and past. Trump’s first debate against Clinton was a disaster and he spent the rest of that week making it more of a disaster. By calling a former Miss Universe fat, he pissed off all fat Americans (which are most of us) for his body shaming and most women as well. Since the debate we also learned that he probably hasn’t paid federal taxes in twenty years. This is because Trump took a nearly billion dollar write off on his 1995 taxes, which were mostly paper losses related to his various failing casino projects in Atlantic City. Wonks like me also learned that Trump spent years petitioning and then ultimately getting Congress to allow him to deduct his kind of losses.

Trump is rarely truthful but he was when he claimed to be the “King of Debt”. We now know that Trump’s success is due mainly to shifting his business failings on his partners while paying himself handsome salaries and bonuses as these businesses failed. Ultimately his success as a businessman comes not from acumen but from brand. He convinces his investors that his gold-plated towers and resorts will be profitable but they only discover much later that it’s all fools gold, and they are the fools. Like his father, he mines every possible government subsidy to allow his projects to “succeed”, mainly by foisting off much of its costs on taxpayers.

Trump’s campaign though totally collapsed yesterday when the Washington Post posted a surreptitious audio conversation from 2005 with “Access Hollywood” host Brian Bush (ironically, a cousin to former President George W. Bush). It was full of lewd comments by Trump bragging about actions he took that would constitute sexual assault if true. These included remarks that he felt he had license to kiss women uninvited and “grab them by pussy”. He also admitted to going after a married woman (and not succeeding in this case). Ironically, it was Post reporter David Fahrenthold (whose investigative journalism earlier untangled his financial dealings for the world to see) who posted the recording. He may win a Pulitzer Prize next year for his reporting.

When I read this report, I knew at once that it would be fatal to his campaign. In June I proclaimed that Trump was toast but at the time it seemed pretty far-fetched. Even I was a nervous Nellie during the first debate until it got going. Seriously: put a fork in his campaign. It’s done. His campaign immediately went into damage control mode but even Republicans who had supported him decried the recording. Speaker Paul Ryan decided he couldn’t be seen with Trump today at a rally in Wisconsin; vice presidential candidate Mike Pence will appear instead. Some Republicans are now calling for Trump to withdraw from the race, but it’s too late to substitute another name as ballots are already printed and early voting has started in many states.

To me the only curious aspect is why it was this story that did him in, as if all those other stories don’t count. It’s probably because many whites give pass to things he says about the others. This recording though shows that he not only objectifies women but that he is okay with it and (in his own words) has likely repeatedly committed sexual assault. Given his history of infidelity, an admission he repeatedly went after a married woman that spurned his advances was not surprising, but certainly reinforced the narrative about him.

Virtually every woman knows feeling like an object in men’s eyes. Now it is clear that’s how Trump perceives women, at least the beautiful ones. It’s also clear that he feels entitled to behave this way because of his status and either doesn’t know or care that doing so is sexual assault. Add this to the various sexual harassment lawsuits he has already settled and the recent reports that his charity may be running illegally and it presents a complete portrait of a man wholly unfit to be president of the United States.

In short, yesterday a cluster bomb hit his campaign effectively ending it. It’s unclear if Trump understands this but watch actions in the coming days. I give nearly 100% odds that he skips the last debate. He may throw in the towel but it’s unclear if he is self-aware enough to do so, but regardless he will remain on the ballot. Any woman that still votes for him must do so against their instinctively revolting feelings for men who behave this way. Any men that still vote for him do so while tacitly sanctioning this sort of behavior.

What’s unclear though is whether this straw that has broken Trump’s back will also break the backs of Republican candidates nationwide. That depends on turnout but things look very good for Democrats. This should demoralize Republicans from showing up and further enthuse Democrats to vote. In short this may well turn into a wave election, not just electing Hillary Clinton but also ushering in a Democratic House and Senate. If so it will demonstrate how catastrophically bad a choice Trump was as their candidate. By choosing him Republicans have likely tarnished their brand forever.

Here’s hoping. This remnant of the proud party of Lincoln deserves to die and Trump is the ideal candidate to extinguish it.