Saturday, October 8, 2016

Trump vs. Clinton (Sexual Assault, not the Presidency)

Regrettably, it seems necessary to lay out my views about the latest revelations of the Republican Nominee's crude language relating to sexual assault on Women and explain why I support Hillary even if she is married to Bill.

First, the latest revelations are only the culmination of numerous inappropriate statements and views of Trump about Women, Immigrants, Religions, Ethnic Origins, Physical disabilities, Veteran's struggles, etc. On every one of these issues he has been consistently offensive and over-the-top. His base seems to love it as he plays up the outsider role refusing to respect "political correctness." It's part of his shtick. He's a TV Personality and a bluff and bluster, entrepreneurial Capitalist famous for his own personal brand. No one should be surprised about this. His supporters who are now bailing on the "moral high-ground" never should have been with him.

Second, the latest comments along with many from earlier in this campaign, are not just sexual dirty talk that might be OK in private but inappropriate in the public square. They are inappropriate in any context. They reveal a deep-seated antipathy towards women treating them as sexual objects rather than human beings. And his actions speak louder than words. They include: multiple marriages and affairs during and between of which he has publicly bragged and sought media exposure; overt participation and self-promotion of a crass, sexual nature in Playboy publications and videos; appearances on the crude Howard Stern show where these things were openly discussed; comments during the campaign critical of the physical appearance of women and their very nature as women ("blood coming out of her . . . wherever") and nothing in the present to indicate these offensive attitudes and behaviors are a thing of the past only and not of the present.

All of this should disqualify anyone for the office of President of the United States. Now, on to Bill Clinton.

No. 1: Hillary is not Bill. She should not be judged for the sexual misbehavior of her husband. That's part of our inappropriate "blame-the-woman" culture. Now, on to the messier aspects.

No. 2: There are allegations that Hillary is some sort of enabler and that she defended Bill and trashed and threatened the women who alleged to be his sexual victims or willing partners. The "enabler" part is more of the "blame-the-woman" view which I don't ascribe to and is pop psychology at its worst.

Hillary's defense of Bill is a bit more troubling. There is no doubt she was devastated by the revelations about Monica Lewinsky which she didn't want to believe until the President was forced to admit them. No doubt she was devastated by the hints of truth in the other inappropriate liaisons. I don't believe that she is part of any conspiracy to cover up sexual assault or rape on the part of Bill Clinton. But we're getting into deep psychological waters of interpretation that are difficult for anyone, sometimes even the participants, to know the truth.

Bad behavior eventually catches up with everyone as has now happened with Donald Trump. Oh, and Bill Cosby, as another example. Mrs. Cosby still seems to be in denial which is a horrifyingly typical human response in such tragedies. Time will resolve that as well. And then there's the list of all the political horribles from Anthony Weiner, who's now-separated wife is associated with the Clinton Campaign, to Dennis Hastert, former Republican Speaker of the House, who sexually abused boys he coached in wrestling and was paying hush money through the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

And just because so many do horrible things doesn't mean that all do them. There is still choice and agency and responsibility. Nobody is perfect, but we can learn self-control and proper expression of urges and certainly proper respect for women, children, and all humankind. Just because all are capable of committing horrible deeds doesn't mean we all do. We are all just as capable of doing the most wonderful activities in promoting the good and safety of all in our spheres of influence and society at large.

My my part, I have been faithful to my wife of 36 years and would never use the kind of language in the Trump recording. I'm not perfect. As Jimmy Carter once famously confessed, I've lusted out of basic, human male urges. And I have become better over time as my behavioral choices and reliance on spiritual sustenance have diminished the "natural man" aspects of my human failings.

Politically, I reluctantly supported Bill Clinton in '92 mainly on Hillary's willingness to forgive and go public with their history of a troubled marriage. Sadly, those troubles did not end and I was disgusted by the President's behavior with an intern in the White House. While I thought that should have been a basis for removal from office, I was appalled at the political hypocrisy in going after him on perjury for lying about sex in an investigation of Whitewater financial dealings that found no illegal wrongdoing other than lying about sex when he was set up to do so. We've already addressed Hastert above. There were others like Gingrich, who added hypocrisy to their sexual immorality.

I did not vote for Clinton in '96 casting my vote for Ralph Nader of the Green Party as a protest. Had I not lived in New Mexico where Clinton was assured those electoral votes, I might have reconsidered. I did not want a Republican Party in charge with people like the newt running the House.

I cannot resolve the marital challenges faced by the Clintons. And I don't believe in conspiracy theories until I see some pretty good evidence. I do think there is an opportunity here if Hillary Clinton can seize it appropriately.

Hillary has long been a proponent of women's rights and the rights of children included a spirited promotion of those rights as human rights in bold defiance to repressive regimes around the world when she was Secretary of State. She has an opportunity now to address appropriate sexual behavior which has to be based on mutual respect and decency. True, the old societal standards have broken down. But not all that was old was good. The old patriarchal order of repressing women, hiding abuse of spouses and children has to end. It's better that those things are addressed and prosecuted now when they were only swept under scars of victims in the old days. And the ongoing but now suspect cultures of "frat boys" and "locker-room-banter" must be reformed. We men have a responsibility to ourselves and the women and children of the world. We must help a better standard to surface. Someone like Hillary can help us do that.

She doesn't even have to go into the difficult issues of her own life if she can admit there were and maybe are troubles that they are addressing in the best way possible to close it off as they move forward with us all towards a more just and socially and sexually responsible society. It can be done.

But not with a President Trump.

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