Monday, October 10, 2016

Donald Trump is not only unqualified to be president, but an embarrassment to locker room banter everywhere

I admit it. I objectify women.

I like women, too. I respect them as the more perceptive, detail-oriented, and all around smarter of the sexes. And I have absolutely no problem with a woman in charge - of my department, or my country. I don't see any reason why a woman can't be a cop, or play contact sports, or drive a semi and get a tattoo of an anchor on her arm, if she so chooses. I don't blink twice at the woman who puts her career first, or doesn't want to get married, perhaps doesn't want to have children, or the woman who throws up in her mouth a little at the thought of wearing fuzzy mittens and Ugg boots. Nor do I think - or expect - all women should be petite. There are different shades of beauty, different ways to be sexy, for all of us, and it is really no woman on Earth's job to be beautiful or sexy if she doesn't want to.

These "truths" - that women should be able to do whatever they want in life and not be subjected to a) unfair scrutiny, b) less pay, c) less appreciation, or d) double standards that heap the onus of physical beauty on them pretty much from the moment the umbilical cord's cut - are self-evident. I never feel a need to speak them; I just assume everyone's on the same page.

I like Hillary Clinton. I think she'd make a fine president, all things considered. Untrustworthy? Maybe. But all politicians are untrustworthy to some extent. Insincere?  Again, maybe. But they certainly are all insincere. I think Hillary just isn't any good at putting on a show, not like her husband was, at least. And having nothing to do with her looks one way or another, it can't be denied that she's an awkward woman, with her fire engine red pants suits, smiling way too hard - wide eyed, almost maniacal looking - as she enthusiastically shucks both fists at her supporters.

But she's qualified to hold the office, with a long political history and deep knowledge of what's going on in the world, and more importantly, America's role in it. Just as Barack Obama isn't a secret Muslim, or a Hitler/Stalin chimera trying to force all Americans to memorize the Quran...(or Kenyan-born, for that matter) too Hillary is not a green-blooded liberal boogey monster looking to strip Americans of all their rights. LIKE her husband, she's too politically expedient for that. And she's also hawkish enough, in my opinion, to keep us safe. Maybe more hawkish than some of her supporters would like her to be.

But back to my point: as a red-blooded, heterosexual male, yes, I objectify women. If I'm standing on a street corner, and a physically beautiful woman walks past, I will look. Not leer, not think nasty thoughts, not believe there's only one thing she's good for, but look, and appreciate her for the lovely thing she is, to me, in that moment. It's with a certain reverence, an authentic appreciation for - sincerely - God's handiwork, that I objectify. And to be perfectly honest, it's the same with a good looking man. Beautiful people, in general, are hard to ignore.

Does anyone really disagree with that?

Treating this perfectly human impulse as though it is an automatic sign of predatory intent, or creepiness, or dirtiness, flows from the fetid headwaters of political correctness, and I will never capitulate to that noise. I fully believe appreciating someone's beauty, recognizing sexual desire as inherently normal, and at the same time respecting all people for the complex, capable, full-of-potential human beings they are, is an entirely reconcilable task.

Donald Trump proved this weekend that not everyone's so hot at that reconciliation, though, or even thinks that way. But all the Republicans now distancing themselves from his latest outbreak of "foot-in-mouth" disease have no reason, really no right, to be acting shocked. Nothing about the comments he made to Billy Bush for "Access Hollywood" a decade ago - only brought to light on Friday - are that out of line with countless other things he's said just since announcing his candidacy for president in Summer 2015. They're a little sharper than his public comments, a little more like, whoa..., because, it is said, he didn't realize his mic was on and recording at the time (which, in fairness, really should be a separate discussion).  But they still reveal the reality that has bloomed slowly but steadily over the last year: whatever else he is - business tycoon, great father, etc. - Trump may be all those things, but he is simply not presidential. He can't be a standard bearer, a representative of all of us, the great tapestry that is American society.  He doesn't have it in him. All he represents, all he can wrap his head around, is one demographic, and that's rich, white and powerful.

I don't begrudge him this at all. I'm white, and I would love to be rich and powerful as well (oh, would that it were...). But his privileged, successful life has left him with a myopic view of the world, which disqualifies him, in my opinion.

And having no political experience whatsoever doesn't help; it just means he can't even represent the best of politics, and would likely be helpless inside the Beltway trying to work with Congress. Newsflash: Donald Trump is NOT Ronald Reagan. He's just not. Whatever you thought of his politics, policies or philosophies, Reagan was a statesman, and had political experience enough by the time he ran for president in 1980 to know what to say and when to say it, and more importantly, what not to say, and when NOT to say it. My guess is he was also a gentleman.

I could be wrong about that, though.

And to be clear, my aversion to Donald Trump has nothing to do with liberal or conservative.  I'm one of those much sought-after "swing" voters. I have some staunchly conservative views, and I also have my own set of green-blooded liberal views. Once again, I feel I've been able to strike a nice balance in my life...although as time goes on, I'm left increasingly disillusioned with our increasingly polarized political system.

But the reason I can't vote for Trump, the reason I must vote for Hillary (and I assure you, that would NEVER have happened twenty years ago), is not only because Gary Johnson can't name any foreign leaders and doesn't know what Aleppo is, but because Donald Trump is not a conservative, he's not even a politician. He's just an entertainer, even more so, I'd say, than he is a business tycoon. Over the last fifteen/twenty years, he has become a drum majorette in the freak show cavalcade that has defined American "entertainment". His entire candidacy, I suspect, has been just another reality show. And if he loses the election, don't count out the possibility of a show premiering next fall that documents his entire campaign, a la "Keeping Up With the Kardashians".

I could be wrong about that, though.

And I'm not at all convinced he's entirely into the idea of being president. I do wonder sometimes, when he does or says something that directly impacts his own campaign negatively (and leaves everyone thinking, what the hell's the matter with him?), if he ran for president, got all his good, salt-of-the-Earth supporters (I did not like "basket of deplorables" either...) believing he is some kind of outsider poised to shake up the "Washington machine", merely to see if he could do it.

Well, he did it. Mission accomplished. His supporters definitely believe...and they've stuck with him. They're not budging.

But the point is, of course he's going to brag to Billy Bush about all the women he can get being a celebrity. He IS a celebrity! He's not a presidential-caliber politician! And mark my words, this is only the beginning of flashy, wholly unqualified, and/or sometimes woefully ignorant celebrities throwing their hats in the political ring. I don't mean after their careers have started to wane and they've transitioned into older, more mature adults looking at their lives and the world around them in a different way. I'm talking about when they're still celebrities, still feeling entitled to all the world, and thinking, why the fuck not? It's another feather in my cap. Being president would be fun! Being president would be cool!

That's what I wonder might have been the impetus for Trump's campaign: a mere lark, a new challenge. Can he do it? Can he pull it off? (And how cool would that be...???)  And as to his comments to Billy Bush, while they are certainly denigrating to women, I don't think he meant them in terms of sexual assault. I think he was just bragging about what a "player" his celebrity status allows him to be. And his clumsy, awkward choice of words doesn't make him look predatory, it actually makes him look pathetic, the opposite of a player.  Seriously: "you can grab their pussy?"...are you kidding me? Removing the shock value of that for a moment, just regarding it I the only one that thinks it reveals something else about Donald Trump? Like: the dude better have money, because he certainly doesn't have any game.

Trump apologized, calling it, "locker room banter", but that itself reveals a glaring ignorance. It's not really locker room banter at all. Normal guys don't talk like that. They talk about women surely, talk about sex in terms of conquests (at least more often than they might talk about it in terms of love), they objectify left and right, and yes, sometimes crudely. But there are things you say when you're with guys and things you don't say, and furthermore, there are ways you don't say the things you say...(wait, isn't that from a George Michael song....??).

Bottom line: any group of normal, everyday guys, who are over the age of, say, twelve, and are actively engaged in a conversation where the words, "you can grab their pussy" are being uttered, probably have never been allowed to "grab" anything.

I get that's not what people are outraged about. I just think it's significant; suggests the private Donald Trump might in fact be antithetical to the glistening brand of manliness and success he's attempted to stamp on his public persona (Trump Steaks, indeed...).  And while, no, I don't think he's actually describing sexual assault in his "Access Hollywood" comments (or meaning to, that is...), there is certainly still an underlying hostility and presumption in the way he's speaking. He's not just objectifying women, he's talking with blunt certainty, declaring all women to be fair game, his for the taking. And not once in that entire exchange with Billy Bush does there seem to be even a whisper of appreciation, or reverence, for any of the women he can't help "kissing"...only his bloated, and jaded, sense of entitlement. Not even (at the very least): "I'm telling you man, it's great being a celebrity, because beautiful women are all over me."

No, he says, in no uncertain terms, that he's all over them.  And what I hear, listening to that recording, is Billy Bush laughing nervously, not sure quite how to respond, but knowing he better say something. So he plays along.

And then to point to Bill Clinton as having said "worse" things "on the golf course"?  That's his defense!? I don't know, Mr. Trump, maybe you ought to own this a little more, not be so quick to deflect. And somehow, I don't think that's even true.  "Bubba" may have been a cad, a philanderer, but my guess is, with men and women alike, he knew what to say and what not to say. And how to say it, or not.  After all, Hillary Clinton has stuck with him all these years. And whatever else you want to say or think about her, outside of raising their daughter, I don't think it could be said that she has ever needed to keep Bubba around for any reason.

I could be wrong about that, though.

What I don't think I'm wrong about, is that Trump's lack of a filter, and subtly, and discretion, is not refreshing honesty, not keeping it real. It's not going to "shake up" the "Washington machine" if he gets to the White House. It's just reckless, and in this day and age, with the world how it is, it could be downright dangerous.