Here’s a quick trip to the front page before we head for the opinion page.
Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman, and Alexander Burns wave at the passing Republicans from the Times.
Republican leaders began to abandon Donald J. Trump by the dozens on Saturday after the release of a video showing him speaking of women in vulgar sexual terms, delivering a punishing blow to his campaign and plunging the party into crisis a month before the election.
Fearing that his candidacy was on the verge of undermining the entire Republican ticket next month, a group of senators and House members withdrew support for him, with some demanding that he step aside. Mr. Trump, however, vowed to stay in the race
Abandon. Yes. Punishing blow. Uh huh. Plunging. Undermining. Good active verbs. Okay, I may be enjoying this too much.
Jenna Johnson, Sean Sullivan and Robert Costa teed up the same subject at the Post.
The Republican Party plunged into an epic and historic political crisis Saturday with just a month to go until Election Day as a growing wave of GOP lawmakers called on defiant presidential nominee Donald Trump to drop out of the race in the wake of a video showing him make crude sexual remarks. …
By midafternoon Saturday, more than two dozen Republican lawmakers had called on Trump to leave the race, often touting vice presidential candidate Mike Pence as an alternative. Others including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the 2008 GOP nominee, said they could no longer vote for Trump but stopped short of calling on him to drop out. Still, the Republican Party’s top leadership — including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and party chairman Reince Priebus — continued to support Trump even as they denounced his comments.
Please do the “appalled with Trump, but pretty damn pleased with how things are going” ritual dance across the line to see what the rest of punditry is saying.
The New York Times uses “sleazy” as their go-to Trump adjective.
And so we have now heard the Republican nominee for president of the United States bragging about repeated sexual assault.
The tape was made “many years ago,” Mr. Trump noted in his statement on Friday. It was made in 2005. He was then 59 years old. It would be hard for anyone to argue that the man he was then is not the man he is now.
Mr. Trump also noted that Bill Clinton had “said far worse to me on the golf course.” Who knows if that is true, and why should anyone care? Mr. Clinton is not running for president, and, at least until now, Republican politicians have not treated his private behavior as the standard by which they should be judged.
It will be … interesting is probably not the right word. What’s a term that sums up both nail-biting tension and soul-crushing depression? Because it will be a bit of both waiting to see what Trump says about this, and about Bill Clinton, during the debate.
Ruth Marcus sums up Trump as ‘remarkably gross.’
When Trump describes his remarks as “locker room banter,” and contends that “Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course,” that does not seem in any way out of the realm of possibility. Boys are boys, even when they’re supposed to be grown men. And while I’ve never been one, I have some clue about how some of them talk when they think the girls aren’t listening.
Marcus seems willing to believe that what Trump says is a “yes, every man” thing Well, I’ve been one, and I’ve never said anything like what Trump says. I’ve never heard anyone else say it, either. It’s not the words. Yes, men are crude. They say that word. It’s the implication of violence and the assumption of privilege that’s a long way from normal. And, by the way, I don’t for a moment think that Bill Clinton told Trump anything about forcing himself on women. I don’t think Bill Clinton is pure in any sense. Just that he would never say something like that to Donald Trump.
At the same time, Trump’s comments are remarkable for their grossness, in particular for the way they fuse sexual availability and celebrity entitlement. He is interested not only in commenting on women’s attributes, but in how his power allows him to conduct himself.
Yes. and that’s the point. Trump’s statement isn’t standard “locker room banter” not because it discusses women in sexual terms. But because it assumes that women can be taken by force “when you’re a star.”
Frank Bruni worries that Hillary will win the White House, but not the respect.
Perhaps something extraordinary will happen in the second debate, or in the third. Maybe there’s some other surprise in the offing. Barring that, it really does look and feel as if Hillary Clinton is wrapping this thing up. I expect that on Nov. 9, the morning after the vote, we’ll be talking about the election of the first female president of the world’s most powerful nation.
And we’ll be breathing an epic sigh of relief: that Donald Trump isn’t bound for the White House; that the ugliness of the campaign is at last behind us.
But oh, the ugliness still ahead.
Well, you can bet that long before next January, Republicans will be meeting to pinky swear that they will disagree with Hillary on everything, including the direction of the sunrise. Plus, Trump will likely look to turn his failed “movement” into some kind of self-capitalizing movable semi-revolution and conspiracy theory generator.
Trump isn’t going anywhere, nor are his provocations. It was the birther conspiracy yesterday; it will be something else tomorrow. And Clinton isn’t trading war for peace. Her presidency, should it indeed happen, will be a battle royal. The circumstances surrounding it are as politically daunting and inhospitable to accomplishment as those facing any of her predecessors over the last half-century.
Yup, that’s what I’ve been saying. What everyone’s been saying, honestly. Though if Trump loses by enough, it may depress his brand to the point where Civil War and Media Company Trump might not make the kind of money that would interest someone like Donald Trump.
Dana Milbank points out that Friday’s tape was, sadly, nothing really new
Republicans are shocked — shocked! — about Donald Trump’s caught-on-tape remarks boasting in vulgar terms about sexual assaults on women. ...
What was on the 2005 video tape, first reported by The Post’s indefatigable David A. Fahrenthold, was beyond what we’ve known before of Trump — that he grabs the genitals of women without their consent and tried mightily to seduce a married woman. But it’s worse only by degrees. If this is the straw that broke the camel’s back, this dromedary was already overburdened and suffering from arthritis, spinal stenosis and ruptured disks.
People who were already willing to accept Trump’s racism, sexism, religious bigotry, and absolute incompetence because they thought Trump would help people who looked like them, or worse, because they thought he would hurt people who didn’t, were already—and this is as good a word as any—deplorable.
Even before this tape emerged, we knew that his wife Ivana accused him at the time of their divorce of raping her (Trump’s lawyer asserted that there is no such thing as spousal rape). We’ve known for months that makeup artist Jill Harth filed a 1997 complaint accusing Trump of attempted rape and of groping her in his daughter Ivanka’s bedroom. We’ve seen complaint after complaint about his lewd behavior on set at “The Apprentice” and at his Miss Universe pageants.
Even worse things have been alleged against Trump. I’d still like to think those things aren’t true … but the space between what he’s accused of and what he brags of keeps getting smaller.
E. J. Dionne agrees that to have missed Trump’s misogyny up to now, you had to work at it.
What is truly shocking is that Donald Trump’s Republican enablers are shocked.
True, Trump’s comments in the 2005 video made public Friday by The Post are shockingly vile, astonishingly disgusting and disgracefully open about the freedom Trump felt (because he was a “star”) to grope and, let’s face it, assault women.
Dear Republicans, if a lot of this sounds like a big “told you so,” we … told you so.
... it should offend and enrage Mexican Americans, African Americans, American Muslims and everyone else Trump has attacked that none of these prior offenses had turned the Republican establishment away.
Yes, dammit. Why wasn’t being a racist pig who steals from his workers, contractors, investors, and charity disqualifying? Why isn’t using more than half of all the words you utter in the service of lies disqualifying? Why isn’t simply being incompetent disqualifying? Everyone who decided “this” was the straw that snapped that old camel, is a willing participant in the things that came before.
Alexandra Petri tells why this isn’t just another Trump blunder
Ah, yes, just locker room banter. … It must be nice to have a magical room where you can go, drop your pants and pretend for a few glorious hours that women are not people.
A repellent, but remarkably unexamined, idea that we carry around in society with us is the notion that somehow this is okay. That this is just boys being boys. That we must give boys a safe, unpolluted, secret space where they can stop the exhausting charade of acting as though women contain the same internal worlds that they do themselves.
This is what it gets back to: the idea that men are people, and women are just women.
Again, I want to state that no locker room, steam room, weight room, board room or boiler room that I’ve ever been in featured talk like that of Trump.
Of course what Donald Trump said is awful. But, as Kelly Oxford noted on Twitter, it’s the fact that Billy Bush just nodded along that gives us rape culture.
It’s the idea that boys will be boys, and it does not matter what you leave in your wake, because you are the protagonist of this story, and the girl is just … an appealing body, to be discussed and dissected at leisure when you are back in one of the myriad locker rooms of daily life. If that.
And no, it’s not all right. But it’s also a fantasy. Do men in areas where they’re away from women talk about women? Yes. Do they talk about having sex with women? Yes. Do they talk about forcing women to have sex? No. No they don’t. Not men who aren’t named Trump.
Richard Wolffe doesn’t think Trump is coming back from this one.
It’s going to get worse for Donald Trump and his Republican party. Much worse.
Normal candidates might have realized they were bumping along the bottom of their election – if not, their life – when video emerged of them bragging, as a newlywed, about forcing themselves on women, genitals and all.
But not the man who promises to make America great again. No, Donald Trump’s so-called apology video was even more incompetent and incoherent than the rest of his campaign to date. And that’s quite an achievement for a man who has attacked a grieving, Gold Star family.
Wolffe thinks that Trump is so oblivious, that he’ll keep compounding the problem. And he points out the fact that everyone keeps bringing up, but in a different light.
Until now, Trump’s defenders liked to justify his remarks about Rosie O’Donnell and Megyn Kelly by saying that the GOP nominee was just an entertainer. That’s not possible any more. Trump’s disgusting comments were made in private, not as a public performance. And that’s precisely why they are indelible.
Trump’s words are so damaging exactly because this is what Donald Trump feels is acceptable in private. If this was part of an act, it might still be disgusting, but perhaps less awful. If this was really “common locker room” language, there would be examples that don’t include Donald Trump. But it wasn’t, there isn’t. What Trump said was both extraordinarily bad and far from the level of everyday acceptability.
Lindy West feels that Trump’s not the only offender in this story.
It’s Billy Bush’s snickering that really gets to me. In the video from 2005, published Friday by The Washington Post, you can hear Mr. Bush (first cousin to George W.) wheezing ecstatically as Donald J. ...
“Yes!” Mr. Bush grunts, Beavis-esque, “Yes, the Donald has scored!”
Of course, “the Donald” has not “scored.” The Donald is on the NBC lot to shoot a guest appearance on “Days of Our Lives” at the behest of his employer to promote his reality show, “The Apprentice,” while “Access Hollywood” produces an accompanying puff piece. This is work within work within work. Mr. Bush is at work. Mr. Trump is at work. Ms. Zucker is at work, and not only is she not Mr. Trump’s “girl,” she is a complete stranger who is also on camera and being paid to smile.
And I can see where we’re going … again.
Such has it always been: powerful men sorting women’s bodies into property and trash and “good” guys, average guys, guys you know, guys you love, guys on the “Today” show, going along with it. Snickering. Licking a boot here and there, joining in if they’re feeling especially bitter or transgressive or insecure or far from the cameras that day. Perhaps, at their most noble, staying silent. Never speaking up, because the social cost is too high. It’s easier to leave that for the victims to bear. After all, they’re used to it.
No. Screw that. “Good” guys, average guys absolutely do not buy off on this. Do not tolerate it silently. Do not stand by nobly or otherwise while … Look. Damn it. This is becoming ridiculous. What Donald Trump did was wrong. We all agree it was wrong. But that what Donald Trump did is being used to condemn all men, is also wrong. Sickeningly wrong. Pretending that the behavior of either Trump or Bush is “normal” or acceptable to most men is untrue, and that idea is harmful to women as well as to men. It widens a gulf that’s already too wide. It’s wrong when Rudy Giuliani tries to pass this off as typical male behavior, it’s also wrong when Lindy West does the same.
Jessica Valenti addresses the exact same point.
But does so in a way that opens discussion, instead of closing it. Observing the point where Trump and Bush, after talking about actress Arianne Zucker as little more than a collection of parts, get off the bus, Valenti observes that the two men then snicker and say things that mean something to them only because of the disgusting byplay they shared in the bus.
It’s painful to watch not just because Zucker doesn’t know what was said about her, but because this is what women are afraid of. That the men we know, the men we work with – or even love – say horrible things about us. That despite assurances that they respect us and consider us equals, men are secretly winking behind our back. That we are not really people to them, but things.
When women watch that interaction between Trump, Bush and Zucker, they’ll think of the countless times they walked up to a group of jovial men in mid-conversation and felt something in the pit of their stomach. They’ll wonder if their sneaking suspicion was right all along – that they were on the outside, that they were the joke
That’s an understandable concern. And when Valenti expresses it this way, rather than making a blanket accusation, it’s deeply moving and disturbing. Said this way it makes me want to work harder, not just to give assurances, but to make sure that they are always true.
Nicholas Kristof has an account of someone who experienced Trump’s sense of privilege hand to … body.
Jill Harth’s first concern with Donald Trump’s hands wasn’t that they were small. It’s that they were everywhere.
Harth and her longtime boyfriend were in meetings with Trump to forge a business partnership. “He was relentless,” Harth recalled in an interview, describing how on Dec. 12, 1992, he took the couple to dinner and a club — and then situated himself beside Harth and ran his hands up her skirt, to her crotch. “I didn’t know how to handle it. I would go away from him and say I have to go to the restroom. It was the escape route.”
This is far from the only incident Harth relates, and far from the worst. Her association with Trump included several incidents in which he physically tried to get her in bed.
Harth says that she worried about being raped by a man who weighed twice as much as she did, and at one point she vomited as a defense mechanism. But she says that he was never violent and genuinely seemed to assume sexual interest on her part; often he was playful as she was frightened: “His mind was in a totally different place than mine,” Harth recalls. “He thinks he’s God’s gift to women.”
The terrible thing is, he probably still does. Right now. Even after his “apology.” Because anyone who could or did tell him otherwise was swiftly tossed from Trump’s tiny ego entourage.
Ross Douthat is in a dragon-slaying mood.
The Western system — liberal, democratic, capitalist — has been essentially unchallenged from the inside for decades, its ideological rivals discredited or tamed. Marxists retreated to academic fastnesses, fascists to online message boards, and Western Christianity accepted pluralism and abandoned throne-and-altar dreams. ...
Now, though, there is suddenly resistance. Its political form is an angry nationalism, a revolt of the masses in both the United States and Europe. But the more important development may be happening in intellectual circles, where many younger writers regard the liberal consensus as something to be transcended or rejected, rather than reformed or redeemed.
A good part of this is actually a pretty decent overview, as Douthat is capable of doing when removed from fretting over the Papacy and college fraternities (both of which consume large parts of his attention). And his overview of activity on the left is an interesting outsider’s take.
No full-spectrum agenda uniting Thomas Piketty and Naomi Klein and Ta-Nehisi Coates has yet emerged. But the left’s fractiousness, its complicated race-sexuality-class feuds, have an energy that’s conspicuously absent closer to the neoliberal center. And they are infused with an exasperation with procedural liberalism, an eagerness to purge and police and shame our way toward a more perfect justice than the post-Cold War order has produced.
But once Douthat starts hitting the reactionary right — and especially his almost wholly imaginary “post-liberal” conservative, but not in that way, religious faction— Douthat begins to see a lot more of what he wants to be there in these movements than what actually drives them.
The Douthat word for the day is actually just a prefix: neo. Neo apparently can be applied to anything now, like neo-reaction. Which means. Well, it means reaction. But with a neo attached. Because it’s cooler.
Leonard Pitts is trapped in the X-files.
I used to love “The X-Files.” ...
What was once television has now become politics.
Or has no one else noticed how the Republican candidate for president, his surrogates and his voters, have put forth a series of interlocking conspiracy theories so byzantine and confused as to make “The X-Files” seem like “Scooby-Doo” by comparison?
I would say that the X-Files, after a promising start, turned out to have no solid idea behind it’s core mythology, leading ultimately to a lot of inconsistent ideas, reboots of tired ideas, and plots that wandered off to nowhere.
Combined and distilled, these theories go something like this: President Obama is a gay Kenyan Muslim who, with the transvestite Michelle and two kidnapped children masquerading as his family, usurped the White House and now plans to hand it off to the corrupt and murderous liar Hillary Clinton, who plotted with the Commission on Presidential Debates to schedule two of their face-offs against NFL games and who has rigged next month’s election to defeat Donald Trump and keep him from making America great again even as his taxes are being audited because he’s a “strong Christian” and the lying media continue to treat him with unfair meanness.
But yeah, the X-Files still made more sense than that. Okay, grays, come take me away.
Richard Friedman looks at whether it’s possible to make your brain pick up new things as easily as a child’s.
Until recently, the conventional wisdom within the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry has been that development is a one-way street, and once a person has passed through his formative years, experiences and abilities are very hard, if not impossible, to change.
Given the drug valproic acid, which is used in treating bipolar disorders, patients were found to have some of their child-like flexibility restored. Researchers have also identified genes involved in maintaining “neuro-plasticity.” So perhaps, not too long from now, you can freshen up your brain, and make another try at learning those pluperfect Latin verbs that seemed so intractable.