MATTHEW eclipsed Donald briefly earlier today, with lots of grey images seen through rain-dropped lenses, until late in the afternoon, when the Washington Post released a three-minute video made by Access Hollywood in 2005, featuring Donald Trump bragging to professional celebrity lapdog Billy Bush about his remarkable power over women due to his stardom. When Billy Boy brought up a particular woman, Trump said he had “moved on her like a bitch,” when she was married. He then mused that “When you’re a star, you can do anything” to women, and they just take it.
It was remarkable to watch the entire news apparatus turn on a dime from the storm wreaking havoc in Haiti, Cuba, and Florida to the one doing the same to the Presidential campaign of 2016. It felt like a violent change in the weather. Commentators and analysts went immediately to gale force, opining that this was “the worst October Surprise any Presidential campaign has ever faced,” and predicting that this could finally be the end of Trump; that he would not be able to survive this politically.
Trump first released a statement about the video that read, “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course—not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”
I know locker room banter. And this was no locker room banter. This was the insecure posturing of an almost 60-year-old rich predator who has always believed that his wealth and celebrity give him the right to degrade and abuse other people—especially women.
The timing of the Access Hollywood release couldn’t have been worse for the Trump campaign, coming on a Friday night, two days before the second debate. The campaign went to DEFCON 2 very quickly, and released a video at 12:20 am EST on Saturday that was immediately characterized as “a hostage video.” Squinting into the media glare, Trump said he wasn’t really the person in the video, anymore (he’d changed), that this was “nothing more than a distraction,” and that, anyway, Bill and Hillary Clinton are much worse. An hour before this “apology” was aired, Trump ghostwriter Tony Schwartz called it, predicting that Trump’s statement would just make matters worse.
Access Hollywood says there are many, many more hours of video available from them, and Mark Burnett must be wondering if he is destined to become the Rose Mary Woods of our time.
Even before the release of Trump’s statement, it was being reported that many Republican lawmakers (including every one in Utah) were jumping ship, a meeting with Paul Ryan and others on Saturday in Wisconsin was cancelled, and Republican strategists around the country were openly contemplating how Trump might be convinced to withdraw from the race. Suddenly, Mike Pence’s Vice-Presidential/Presidential performance in Tuesday’s debate looked more strategic and prescient than ever. If Trump is still looking for a way out of the race, he might just have found it.
David Levi Strauss
Saturday, October 8, 1:42 am
LINK to all David Levi Strauss Power 2016 Dispatches
[Photography of Hurricane Matthew: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | U.S. Department of Commerce.]