It's hard to even figure out where to begin to respond to the 2005 audio/video the Washington Post dug up of Donald J. Trump, seemingly not knowing he was being recorded, discussing women, and sexual conquest. When you're rich and famous, Trump said, women let you get away with things, including letting you "grab them" by the genitalia — though he used an offensive street vulgarism instead.
Trump dismissed the exchange as "locker room banter," as in, boys will be boys.
No. This is how misogynists talk. The presidential candidate of the Republican Party — the political home of the religious, family-values right — bragged about how he could use his station in life to physically assault women. Not just to try to seduce women, which he also boasted about in the exchange, but to "grab" women by an intimate body part.
That is sexual assault.
The audio and video were captured as Trump arrived for an appearance as himself in an episode of "Days of Our Lives." He rolled up in an "Access Hollywood" bus with host Billy Bush, who joined in with Trump's obnoxious comments as they prepared to meet with soap opera star Arianne Zucker.
As they waited, Trump spoke in denigrating terms about a married woman who spurned his advances, and her later physical appearance. And he made sexual remarks about Zucker's physical appearance just before they alit from the bus.
Yes, Trump was not yet a candidate, but that doesn't excuse his boorish comments, nor his seeming endorsement of groping women because "when you're a star, they let you do it…. You can do anything."
In this election cycle, Trump has offended women, immigrants, veterans, Muslims, Mexicans, the physically disabled, and the list goes on. Yet more than 40% of voters still say they support him.
Trump is who he is: a spoiled child who lies when confronted with his outrageous comments, who blames others for his own shortcomings, who lacks a fundamental understanding of how government works, who expresses admiration for political strongmen like Vladimir Putin. His immaturity is staggering, and there's no telling how much more dangerous the world will be if he holds the most powerful chair in the most powerful government on Earth.
But that Trump has achieved this level of domestic political support despite staggering character flaws is not an indictment of Trump.
It is an indictment of American society and culture. Even if Trump loses, we still have the fundamental problem of his political rise.
How does the nation deal with the huge minority of Americans who find this kind of behavior acceptable — or at least not sufficiently objectionable to make Trump unfit for the presidency?
What do we do about that segment of the population that proudly says to the world, yeah, we think Donald Trump should be the face of the America — that this is who we are?