Donald Trump once boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and he wouldn’t lose any voters. Considering the tape that was just released in which Trump boasts in the most vulgar terms possible how he forces himself on women, the person Trump ended up shooting was himself.
Trump has pushed the envelope for the acceptable in politics ever since he announced his candidacy. Unbridled racism? Check. Unvarnished xenophobia? Check. Trashing war heroes? Check. None of it seems to have made a big dent in Trump’s trajectory.
But the grossness of Trump’s comments, to say nothing of the casual sexism behind them, will be nearly impossible to overcome. Trump admitted that he sexual assaults women, as Trump says in the video, when you’re a star “you can do anything. Grab them by the pussy.” He keeps Tic Tacs on hand just for the occasion (and a nice touch on the video is hearing the rattle of the mints as Trump spots a pretty actress).
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” Trump says matter-of-factly. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”
That this awful episode occurred shortly after getting married shows why he is so opposed to same-sex marriage. He must believe that no man can ever be faithful, to another man or woman, because he himself certainly can’t seem to honor it.
Republicans, no champions of women, quickly realized that Trump’s candidacy is in a death spiral and flew toward the exit. Paul Ryan pulled the plug on campaign appearance with Trump, saying he was “sickened” by Trump’s remarks. Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus said “no woman should ever be described or talked about in these terms.” Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush slammed Bush, while Republican Senators running for re-election quickly tried to distance themselves from the man at the top of the ticket.
(The revelation won’t do Billy Bush‘s career much good either. The footage was from an Access Hollywood segment in 2005, during which Bush, then a reporter for the show, egged Trump on while the pair prepared to go on camera. Bush is now–or more accurately, at least for now–a correspondent on the Today show.)
Even the worst gay political scandals fail to compare to Trump’s debacle. Mark Foley didn’t just start groping the crotches of Congressional pages, preferring instead to groom his potential partners first. Larry Craig was just seeking to get off with some other consenting men in a restroom. Their antics were sleazy, but they lacked the brazen embrace of assault that Trump clearly revels in.
The tape’s release couldn’t come at a worse time for Trump.In two days, he faces another presidential debate, at which his comments are bound to be center stage. He flopped in the first presidential debate, allowing Clinton to open up a lead again after the race tightened. Results from internal polls that both parties are conducting are showing Trump in free fall.
Free fall will look like slow motion as the tape’s full effects take hold. With a little more than four weeks to go, it’s hard to see how Trump can recover from glorying in sexual assault. You can say that it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
But just consider how many women had to hear the rattle of the Tic Tacs as he approached them.