Donald Trump’s presidential run has tested the limits of decency and the continued popularity of his campaign, despite his many rhetorical horrors, demonstrate a disturbing turn in U.S politics. He has been the quintessential teflon man, lambasting ethnic groups, the parents of an heroic U.S soldier and singling out women for especially nasty abuse. However footage obtained by the Washington Post expose the darkest recesses of the man and appear terminal to his campaign.
The footage in question comes from a 2005 interview with ‘Access Hollywood’ host Billy Bush, first cousin of former president George H.W.Bush, in which Trump discusses his attempts to sleep with a married woman, recounting, “I did try and fuck her, she was married.”
Trump, referencing his encounters with women, continues ‘and when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Even for a well-established misogynist, who has previously referred to women as pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals, the allusion to sexual assault is deeply disturbing.
In an apology released by his campaign Trump responded that he had ‘Said and done things I regret…anyone who knows me, knows these words don’t reflect who I am”, adding, “I was wrong, I apologise”. Despite finally uttering the words, Trump’s apology comes across as anything but sincere. Indeed, the impression that the thin mask Trump has worn publicly has finally slipped isn’t countered. In the same video Trump immediately goes onto the attack, attempting to flip the scandal onto the Clinton campaign by referencing Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions.
The latest furore comes after several disastrous weeks for the Trump campaign.
A poor performance in the first presidential debate was reflected in polls showing Clinton had arrested Trump’s momentum and established a slim lead.
Trump’s performance was widely panned and he spent the following two weeks engaged in a feud with former Miss Universe Alicia Machado over comments he made about her weight.
He faces serious accusations over his financial records having steadfastly refused to release his tax returns for public scrutiny, becoming the first candidate do so in decades. Portions of his tax return from 1995, obtained by the New York Times, revealed that Trump declared a loss of more than $900 million. Under U.S. law, a loss of this scale can be written off against future taxation, and it is widely thought that Trump has utilised it to shield from paying income tax for the past twenty years. In response to questions regarding taxation, Trump has explicitly emphasised that his failure to pay taxes is a sign of his intelligence and business acumen.
His charity foundation is subject to a court order to cease raising money in New York, as it doesn’t possess the certification necessary to solicit donations. The foundation is believed to be absent from the charity register in many states and despite his self-proclaimed largesse when it comes too charitable giving, there are multiple allegations that he hasn’t fulfilled his pledges. He is also believed to have funneled funds raised in the name of charity back into his businesses. In response Team Trump have complied with the order but implied it has been issues for political motives.
In rumours that hint to the Himalayan scale of the Donald’s narcissism he is thought to have been upset by running mate Mike Pence’s performance in the Vice-Presidential debate. He was supposedly enraged that Pence’s competent performance out shone his own debate shortcomings.
And this is all before considering that he launched a political career on the back of his birtherism.
Senior Republican figures have been quick to condemn Trump, however few have disavowed their endorsement of his candidacy.
House Speaker Paul Ryan revoked an invitation for Trump to join him at an event in Wisconsin and said that he was “sickened by what I heard today. Women are to championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has a greater respect for women than this clip suggests.”
Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus issued a statement saying ‘No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in the manner. Ever.’
In a sure sign of discord, running mate Mike Pence commented ‘I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them’ with his camp said to be apoplectic over the tape.
Even Trump’s wife Melania has issued a statement condemning his remarks.
One Republican to withdraw his endorsement is Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz who cited an inability to support Trump after the exposure of the comments. Whether his action marks a trend of crumbling support from Republican officials who have previously given endorsements is yet to be seen.
Trump has since released a further statement underlining his intention to stay in the race. Trump said ‘I’d never withdraw. I’ve never withdrawn in my life. I’m not quitting this race’, forgetting the two marriages he has withdrawn from and the four bankruptcies he has filed.
Murmurings have swirled that the Republican Party would remove Trump from the ticket. However his defiant statement and the impracticality, given votes have already been cast, make it unlikely.
A big loser from the Trump Tapes, aside from Trump himself, women everywhere and the concept of America as a forward thinking nation, is former primary adversary Ted Cruz. Memorably, Trump repeatedly alleged Ted Cruz’s father might have been involved in the Kennedy assassination. Despite this, and Trump’s myriad offensive comments to Cruz’s wife Heidi, Ted endorsed Trump several weeks ago. It was a stunning act of devoid of any self-respect for himself or his family. Unfortunately for Ted, the clear political motives of the endorsement are unlikely to convince Republican voters if he runs in the 2020 primary as expected. It’s difficult to disassociate your willingness to become an acolyte of a man who has so disgracefully insulted your nearest and dearest.
The event further demonstrates the failures of the Republican Party. Now on the verge of a third consecutive defeat in the race for America’s highest office, the party only has itself to blame. Despite two electoral post mortem reports pinning their defeats to the party’s narrow nativism and failure to reach young and ethnically diverse voting groups, the party fumbled its way to a Trump candidacy. Trump has also increased the revulsion of Latino’s, African-Americans and youth demographics to the Republican platform. His violent language toward women and intimation of sexual assault have added woman to groups alienated. The party faces a major, and difficult, transformation if it is to be competitive in 2020. The tweet stream below only underlines the fractures opened between Trump Republicans and the more traditional Republican voter.
Trump’s campaign has been defined by his ability to make statements that would drown any normal politician. However, the severity of Trump’s words, and the overdue and serious reaction to them, seem to be the final nail in the coffin of an extra ordinary campaign.
Edit: VP Joe Biden has weighed in with these comments: