There’s been considerable praise for Republicans who have withdrawn their support for Donald Trump in the wake of reaction to his sex tape. It’s fair to ask why they didn’t do so earlier, or why they endorsed him in the first place. After all, the only thing the sex tape added to our knowledge of Trump was vulgarity.
GOP leaders knew – we all knew – what he thought of women during most of this campaign. Any politically savvy GOP leader must have known that something out there like this was waiting, as surely as Cliven Bundy was likely to say something particularly outrageous sooner or later, as he finally did with his “Negro” comments.
Before the sex tape surfaced, Trump had attacked a breastfeeding mother, men who change diapers, women who want their husbands to change diapers, Muslim women, sexual harassment victims, women seeking abortions, Mika Brzezinski, Gail Collins, Heidi Cruz, Michelle Fields, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Arianna Huffington, Kim Kardashian, Megyn Kelly, Bette Midler, Rosie O’Donnell, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brande Roderick, Kristen Stewart, Katy Tur, and Elizabeth Warren. How does adding vulgarity to the mix suddenly make him irredeemable? If they didn’t understand what he was like before the sex tape, they were politically tone-deaf. It’s like not knowing what Nixon was like before Watergate.
Trump’s attack on women seeking abortions was particularly shameless and galling, since they have the same position on abortion he had until he needed to start winning Republican primaries and caucuses.
He once blamed Mike Tyson’s rape victim for the rape.
A few days ago, before the sex tape turned up, U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei agreed to accept the post as Trump’s Nevada state chair. It was an astonishing turn of events. Amodei is very conservative but also a decent person. More to the point, he has daughters. Yet he joined the presidential campaign of the nation’s best known misogynist. How is that possible?
Granted, there were those critical of Amodei accepting the job on OTHER grounds.
On Amodei’s Facebook page, Louis Granier wrote, “Mark, as your former government teacher and friend, I know your stance is to manipulate the voters. Politicians are the pawns for big business and Wall Street. I’m disappointed that you play the game better than most. You talk the talk but refuse to walk the walk.”
Amodei replied, “Hey Mr. Granier. Hope you are doing well. You taught me in Government class 40 years ago to be an open minded critical thinker. Also that facts are important! Please feel free to load up on some facts at the Federal Election website. I raise about 60 cents a person in my district. Not the stuff ‘pawns’ are made of and none of it from ‘Wall Street.’ Didn’t we also talk about the inaccuracy of sweeping generalizations in class? As we both know, Nevadans are independent folks and not manipulation prone. I said I’d support the Republican nominee and I believe it’s important to do what you say you will do. The ‘game’ you refer to? Is that supporting those in law enforcement like Frank? Or those who support the minerals industry like Laura? It’s not a game, Mr. Granier. It’s public service.”
But until the sex tape with its extreme language surfaced, no one faulted Amodei supporting Trump’s sexism. Many feminists have argued that sexism is excused while racism is condemned. Imagine if Trump had talked about Jews the way he has talked about women. Would Amodei have accepted a job with the campaign then?
In May, conservative columnist David Brooks wrote, “So for those of us appalled by [Trump] – what are we supposed to do? Well, not what the leaders of the Republican Party are doing. They’re going down meekly and hoping for a quiet convention. They seem blithely unaware that this is a Joe McCarthy moment. People will be judged by where they stood at this time. Those who walked with Trump will be tainted forever after for the degradation of standards and the general election slaughter.”
No Republican can say s/he wasn’t warned long before the sex tape.
Dennis Myers is an award-winning journalist who has reported on Nevada’s capital, government and politics for several decades. He has also served as Nevada’s chief deputy secretary of state.