"You can do anything. Grab them by the [genitals]. You can do anything."
The defenders want to claim this was mere "locker room talk," as Trump insisted on the debate stage Sunday night. Well, I can report with confidence that men in locker rooms typically don't confess to sexually assaulting married women -- and striking out!
Meanwhile, critics want to focus, understandably, on the assault part. But what I think is more revealing is what Trump needs to brag about. Again, he's not boasting about a successful conquest; he's preening about what a star he is -- because that's what matters most to Trump: being a star.
And considering how he's treated the
Trump entered Republican politics the way a celebrity enters a nightclub: He skipped the line. He never put in the time, effort or thought required to be a presidential candidate. And rather than tell him to hit the bricks, the bouncers lifted the red rope and said, "Have a good time, Mr. Trump," because he was a star.
More than that, he was a star of what some call the "entertainment wing" of the conservative movement, a wing that has grown so steroidal in recent years that it's become an oversized deformity, forcing the movement to fly in circles.
Indeed, despite his near-constant (occasionally accurate) whining about how he's been treated unfairly, Trump has mostly benefited from a slew of double standards. His thumbless grasp of public policy, conservative philosophy, religious teachings, English and basic manners would have prevented a normal person from considering a run. Even his biggest fans concede that he says things that would disqualify a typical candidate. As the clichÃ© goes, he defies the laws of political gravity. Well, that's because stars don't bend to our gravity, we bend to theirs.
All of this was obvious over a year ago. But few in the
"A man may take to drink because he feels himself a failure," George Orwell noted, "but then fail all the more completely because he drinks."
So, too, with political parties. The
But others waited. Gov.
Trump's base loved it, oblivious to the fact that he needs more than his base to win. And once again, conservatives who've made a career thumping their chests or their Bibles about the importance of character and morality found themselves making excuses for a man who personifies everything they claimed to oppose. It seems the moral arc of many Republicans is short and bends toward celebrity. Such is the gravitational pull of a star.