Talk to the Hand: An Appalling Anniversary

It should have been over a year ago.

It should have effectively ended the election.

It did not–and the fact that it did not speaks volumes about this country.

One year ago today, the Washington Post reported:

Donald Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone, saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it,” according to a video obtained by The Washington Post.

The video captures Trump talking with Billy Bush, then of “Access Hollywood,” on a bus with the show’s name written across the side. They were arriving on the set of “Days of Our Lives” to tape a segment about Trump’s cameo on the soap opera…

The tape includes audio of Bush and Trump talking inside the bus, as well as audio and video once they emerge from it to begin shooting the segment.

In that audio, Trump discusses a failed attempt to seduce a woman, whose full name is not given in the video.

“I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it,” Trump is heard saying. It was unclear when the events he was describing took place. The tape was recorded several months after he married his third wife, Melania.

“Whoa,” another voice said.

“I did try and f— her. She was married,” Trump says.

Trump continues: “And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’”

“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump says. “Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”

At that point in the audio, Trump and Bush appear to notice Arianne Zucker, the actress who is waiting to escort them into the soap-opera set…

“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.

“Grab them by the p—y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

A generation from now, Americans will wonder why the Access Hollywood tape did not effectively terminate the Trump campaign. Did large segments of the American electorate just not care about sexual assault? Were they so filled with hatred for Hillary Clinton that they would ignore this sick stuff?

Because this country ignored Trump’s malevolence as captured in the Access Hollywood tape (and other moments), our daughters and sons were denied the chance to see a powerful, highly qualified woman move this country forward. On pages 144-145 of her book What Happened, Hillary Rodham Clinton writes:

Will we ever have a woman President? We will.

I hope I’ll be around to vote for her–assuming I agree with her agenda. She’ll have to earn my vote based on her qualifications and ideas, just like anyone else.

When I read those words, I flashed back to Heather Digby Parton’s argument that due to the nature of sexism and partisanship in the United States, our first female President may well be a right-wing Republican. Parton suggests that US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is best positioned to be a future GOP Presidential nominee; my sense is that if Republicans were inclined to nominate a female candidate anytime soon, they’d go for someone along the lines of Iowa Senator Joni Ernst. (Of course, some people assumed that the first black President would be a Republican, and look what happened.)

Watch that Access Hollywood tape again. Think about its repulsive legacy. Large segments of the American electorate couldn’t handle the truth about Trump’s basement-low regard for women, and the policy implications thereof. Large segments of the American electorate cared more about Clinton’s e-mails than they cared about Trump’s egregious misogyny..and because they didn’t care, the hand that Trump once used to grope women was the same hand he placed on the Bible to take the Oath of Office on January 20.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.