Look, I’m a guy, all right? So I’ve spent a lot of time doing guy things in guy places: barbershops, locker rooms, even men’s prisons. Back during my music critic days, I hung out backstage with a veritable army of rock lords and soul men.
But I have never, not ever, not once, heard a man speak the way Donald Trump and Billy Bush do in that 2005 outtake from “Access Hollywood” that was unearthed Friday by The Washington Post. You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, alien creatures in Alpha Centauri have seen it, the astounding clip that required the august New York Times to use the f-bomb and occasioned a lively live debate on CNN over repetition of a certain feline synonym for the female genitalia.
In the clip, Trump speaks with casual crudity about his propensity for sexual assault, about how he kisses women without permission as though their bodies were his entitlement, how he grabs them by the pudenda like, one assumes, grabbing one’s dog by the leash, one’s bag by the handle or otherwise taking control of one’s property.
“And when you’re a star,” he says, “they let you do it. You can do anything.” All while Bush is giggling dementedly along, playing Milhouse to Trump’s Bart Simpson — except that Bart has a better moral compass and Milhouse a sturdier backbone.
A day later, CNN reported on a 2004 radio interview in which Howard Stern wonders if it’s OK to call Trump’s daughter Ivanka “a piece of a–,” and Trump says, wistfully, “yeah.” It’s hard for me to conceive of any father who wouldn’t want to smash the face of the man who described his daughter thus, but Trump goes with it.
His defense to all of this, echoed by his coterie of sycophants, is that boys will be boys. It’s just “locker room” talk, they say.
It ought not be news to anyone by now that the Republican nominee for president is a sentient tower of excrement in a red power tie. But forgive me if, as a guy, I take particular offense at his attempt to conscript me and mine as conspirators in his loathsomeness, to make us guys human shields for his repugnant juvenility.
Don’t get me wrong. I claim no sainthood for my gender. We are not strangers to raunch. And I’m sure your average server at Hooters could tell tales of male misbehavior that could curdle your milk.
But nonchalantly boasting about sexual assault? Casually concurring with some professional letch who demeans your very own daughter to your very own face? Don’t put that on us. There is nothing inherently male about that. No, that behavior reflects the stunted emotional maturity of a then-59-year-old frat boy, a pampered rich kid who never grew up.
And how telling is it that a raft of Republicans, headlined by Sen. John McCain and House Speaker Paul Ryan, has withdrawn support for their nominee since the video was released? They were able to stand with him through his bigotry, his Islamophobia, his bullying, his misogyny, his mockery of a disabled man, his endorsement of violence, his manifest ignorance and his general noxiousness, but boasting of sexual assault was the deal breaker? Why?
Of course, those GOP leaders are all profiles in courage by comparison with the one in three American voters who still, astonishingly, consider this piece of scum worthy of the Oval Office.
Fine. That’s their right, and democracy requires no IQ test. But let them not rationalize Trump’s godawfulness by retreating into the fiction that this is just How Men Are.
Donald Trump is no man. He’s just a really poor excuse for one.
Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may write to him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.