In 1976, when Jimmy Carter (Democrat) was running against Gerald Ford (Republican) for the presidency of the United States, Carter did an interview with Playboy magazine. In the midst of a thoughtful and wide-ranging discussion of policies and issues, he made a statement that caused a firestorm.
“I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust, I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times,” admitted the man who would be president. The chairman of the Democratic party in Carter’s native state of Georgia, when asked about the quote, said “Bad. Bad, bad. I’ve been everywhere today and the reaction is uniformly negative.”
Ah, what a simpler and more innocent time that was, to be sure, especially in light of the words of another would-be president, Republican Donald Trump. Last Friday, a recording of Trump from 2005 came to light, in which he begins by discussing his moves on a woman he knew was married. “I moved on her and I failed. I admit it. I did try and f*** her. She was married.”
Trump then notices an attractive actress who is to escort him on to the set of a TV show on which he was about to make a cameo appearance. “Whoa! Whoa! I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.”
The splashing sound you heard was appalled Republicans fleeing the good ship SS Trump as fast as possible. Setting aside the question of why Trump’s many, many sexist, racist, bigoted, and disparaging comments about women, war veterans, Hispanics, Muslims, and the disabled were not enough for Republicans to disavow him prior to this, there remains the terrifying fact that this man will, if elected, be the public face of America at home and abroad.
Even more terrifying is the fact that people have been trying to defend Trump’s remarks. “He made them 11 years ago; he’s changed!” they cry (his sexist attacks on, and comments about, former Miss Universe Alicia Machado just two weeks ago show he hasn’t). “It’s no worse than any locker-room banter you’d hear!” they claim (many men have come forward to say that comments like this go far beyond mere “locker-room banter”). “I’ve heard Bill Clinton say much worse!” says Trump himself (last time I checked, Bill Clinton was not running for president).
And then there’s the fact that kissing someone, or grabbing their genitals, without their consent is considered sexual assault. It’s not merely lewd, or crude, or distasteful: it’s a criminal offence, a conviction for which would land the perpetrator in jail. Yet this is the man currently running to be president of the United States.
I wonder what Jimmy Carter thinks of this situation, given that his far more innocent comments 40 years ago almost sank his presidential bid. Being a deeply devout Christian and a gentleman, I expect he will refrain from comment. I only wish that any of these three statements applied to Donald Trump.