Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Monday, October 10, 2016

Defining Deviancy Down

This has always worried me about Donald Trump.  He's a loathsome shitstain of a human being.  He says and does awful things the way some people breathe.

But now that he's the GOP nominee, everything he does gets refiltered through the political spectrum.  Now, many GOP leaders are trying to walk away from him, without alienating his supporters.  Good luck with that, by the way.  Others have simply moved the goalposts.  As gnomish cretin Jeff Sessions says, it's not sexual assault to grab a woman's genitals because reasons.  While I laughed hard at the SNL cold open, the fact is this isn't really funny, it isn't locker room talk and it isn't OK.  Because GOP operatives have to defend the Tangerine Nightmare, they wind up defending sexual assault.

As Jon Chait notes, the Trump that stalked and wheezed and sniffed his way across the stage last night was in fact part and parcel of the GOP attitudes about rape and women and Muslims and the environment.  It has been said often that Trump is the comment section come to life.  He is, in fact, the walking representation of a Fox News/Breitbart/Drudge consumer.

So, does Trump's sexual assault bragging normalize this sort of behavior?  Or does it expose it?  My guess in the end is that it exposes it.  There are plenty of men - and it's almost exclusively men - who don't think much of this stuff.  To them it is just words.  It is banter.  Don't believe me?  Ask Billy Bush.  (I hear he has time on his hand, so he's free to take your questions.)

In sum, this could be another Clarence Thomas moment, where a behavior that men have tolerated for too long gets dragged out into the light and exposed for what it really is.

The final lesson could be given on November 8th, but the early returns are promising.

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