[  Emphasis and {commentary} by Abyssum  ]

Ever since I saw the Donald Trump video from 2005, I’ve had two thoughts running through my head about it. The first is surprise at the reaction to it – it is the most talked about news story of the year according to Facebook; the second is an honest feeling that I finally understand who this man in full, and can see why he does the things he does and says the things he says.

First, regarding the surprise at the reaction: I long ago stopped taking Donald Trump literally when he talks about anything at all. Having been acquainted with one of Trump’s senior employees, sadly now lost to us, I heard him say on more than one occasion that you should never take anything Donald says seriously. The Salena Zito frame is better: take him seriously, just not literally. Which in this case means that I take Trump’s 2005 comments not to mean that he has ever actually grabbed any genitalia, but that he wishes others to think that he has. I doubt Trump has ever actually engaged in that manner of sexual assault, because he is such a prominent target I’m expect it would’ve come up before. But people apparently are taking him literally, and hey, it’s a free country.

But here’s the thing: the evidence was all there already about what he thinks of women and how he talks about them. We have hours of tapes with him on with Howard Stern ranking women by appearance and talking casually about their looks, including the looks of one of Stern’s interns, various celebrities, his wives and his own daughter.  We already have stories like this, released back in April by The Boston Globe, where Trump actually says “all women are bimbos.”   For the women who prior to Friday were supporting Trump or mildly open to voting for him who’ve since changed their mind, I have to ask: were you paying any attention to who this person was? Why is this at all surprising to anyone? Perhaps there’s just so much material people forgot some of it – Brande Roderick, who Trump said would look very good on her knees on NBC, had forgotten all about Trump’s comment.  It could be that people just tune it out, but you have to tune out quite a lot to judge the 2005 comments as being anything out of character for Trump.

As for that character: Thinking about that 2005 quote, it strikes me as a perfect example of how Trump wishes he was a Cool Guy, but isn’t. When he talks about grabbing, he brings to mind this scene from Mad Men, referred to as sexy by a slew of writers at the time, the main difference of course being that Donald Trump does not look like Jon Hamm.  Except he’s wishcasting that he does, in the same way he wishcasts himself as a billionaire astride the world, in the same way he makes himself out to be the ultimate boss, hirer of the best people, coveted by the most beautiful women, beloved by the African Americans and the Mexicans, a man who never stops.

Except as a chronic oversharer, Trump is also incapable of hiding the lie behind this image. Think about the context of the conversation with Billy Bush. The point Trump is trying to make in this brief conversation is that he is an alpha, a celebrity, a rich man, and that this allows him to break down any of the boundaries normal men face when in pursuit of a beautiful woman. He wants to seem macho and cool and virile, boasting as he does in front of Billy Bush (itself a sad exercise).
Except! Except he failed! The whole context for their discussion is that Trump struck out. Forget grabbing anyone, he didn’t get close enough to reach. He tried to woo Entertainment Tonight’s Nancy O’Dell with furniture and didn’t get anywhere. For all of the locker room bravado he’s expressing, for all the prowess he’s pretending to have, he has to admit that he got shut down – which leads to the negging of the woman as being unappealing anyway, because she got implants (a factor that has never stopped Trump before).

The most important single thing I’ve ever seen that helped me understand Donald Trump was the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Small Potatoes”, about the USFL. It shows Trump as a showman in his prime – he doesn’t particularly care for football, but he cares a great deal that the NFL has rejected his attempts to become an owner, in the exclusive club of the super wealthy and the old money families who own NFL franchises. So Trump goes about a lengthy act of sabotage, buying the New Jersey Generals and carrying on a lawsuit against the NFL in an attempt to force a buyout that will absorb his team and allow him to own the sports page of the New York Post forever and ever amen. But in a strange twist of fate, it fails because of the image he has created for himself. The court finds in his favor, but awards just one dollar plus interest to the aggrieved parties. The assumption on the part of jurors is that Trump is a billionaire, so what does he need the money for.

This is who Donald Trump is: a man who wants to be seen and perceived as something he is not, who works very hard to be perceived that way, who boasts in private and in public to that end, but who ultimately goes to bed every night knowing in his heart of hearts that it is all a great big lie.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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