A Reckoning with Women Awaits Trump (The New Yorker)

A Reckoning with Women Awaits Trump

http://bit.ly/2o54CqK

Donald Trump is the least mysterious figure in the history of the
American Presidency. His infantile character, duplicity,
cold-heartedness, and self-dealing greed are evident not merely to the
majority of the poll-answering electorate but, sooner or later, to those
who make the decision to work at his side. This is manifest even in
Trump’s favored medium, reality television. Recently, fans of “Celebrity
Big Brother” witnessed Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the unforgettably
forgettable former White House aide in charge of nothing at all,
tearfully confessing her global despair. “It’s not going to be O.K.,”
she said.

No kidding. Sooner or later, Trump’s satraps and lieutenants, present
and former, come to betray a vivid sense of just how imperilled and
imperilling this Presidency is. In their sotto-voce remarks to the White
House press, these aides seem to compete in their synonyms for the
President’s modesty of intelligence (“moron,” “idiot,” “fool”); his
colossal narcissism; his lack of human empathy. They admit to reporters
how little he studies the basics of domestic policy and national
security; how partial he is to autocrats like himself; how indifferent
he is to allies. They are shocked, they proclaim, absolutely shocked. In
the past few days, it has been Trump’s misogyny, his heedless attitude
toward women and issues of harassment and abuse, that has shocked them
most. And those who know him best recognize the political consequences
ahead.

Last month, the journalist Joshua Green watched the Golden Globes
ceremony on television with Steve
Bannon
,
a Trump ideologist and self-described nationalist “revolutionary.”
Green’s book on Bannon, “Devil’s
Bargain
,”
was among the best on the 2016 campaign, and now Green was in search of
material for a preface to his forthcoming paperback edition. He got it.
As the two men watched the awards show—the women dressed in black to
commemorate the #MeToo movement and the downfall of the likes of Harvey
Weinstein; Oprah Winfrey winning such sustained applause for her speech
(“Their time is up!”) that she was soon fielding questions about a
Presidential run—Bannon could not fail to see it in terms of Trump’s
political future.

“It’s a Cromwell moment!” Bannon said. “It’s even more powerful than
populism. It’s deeper. It’s primal. It’s elemental. The long black
dresses and all that—this is the Puritans. It’s anti-patriarchy.”

Bannon, whose history is hardly one of feminism, was stunned by the
fervor of what he was seeing, and, charmingly, he spoke of it not as
justice but as a threat of wholesale emasculation. “If you rolled out a
guillotine, they’d chop off every set of balls in the room,” he said.

And yet Bannon, who is partial to grand pronouncements, acknowledged the
political stakes, not least for the President. “You watch. The time has
come,” he said. “Women are gonna take charge of society. And they
couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch.
This is a definitional moment in the culture. It’ll never be the same
going forward . . . The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo ten
thousand years of recorded history.”

Bannon, who has failed to return to Trump’s good graces since his ouster
from the White House, last August, has relinquished the rhetoric of
personal loyalty. Green told Jake Tapper on CNN that Bannon told him,
“I’m sick of being a wet nurse for a seventy-one-year-old.”

Green’s publisher wisely released Bannon’s remarks because they meshed
so well with Trump’s own behavior following the downfall last week of
two of his White House aides. When Rob Porter, the White House staff
secretary, left his job after charges, and evidence, of abuse from his
two ex-wives became public, the President showed not a trace of sympathy
for anyone but Porter himself. This was striking. One former wife had
obtained a protective order against Porter; the other presented the
F.B.I. with a photograph of herself with a black eye, the result, she
said, of a beating Porter delivered her while on vacation in Italy. And
yet Trump went to great lengths, in a public statement, to sympathize
with the “tough time” that Porter was enduring, to praise the “very good
job” he had done, and to express confidence that he had a “wonderful
career” ahead of him. As for Porter’s ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and
Jennie Willoughby . . . nothing.

One could barely get a night’s sleep before another White House aide,
the speechwriter David Sorensen, was forced to resign after it was
revealed that, during a background check, his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett,
had told the F.B.I. that he had abused her by, among other acts, putting
out a cigarette on her hand and running over her foot with a car.

Trump’s response on social media to these allegations was not entirely
surprising. He tweeted his suspicion of the #MeToo movement, saying,
“People’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.
Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There
is no recovery for someone falsely accused—life and career are gone. Is
there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

Trump responded with similar fellow-feeling when charges were levelled
at Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, late of Fox News, and Roy Moore, the
right-wing former judge who had seemed headed to victory in an Alabama
Senate race. (Trump, of course, is unforgiving when it comes to
Democrats like Al Franken and John Conyers.)

Kellyanne Conway, whose defenses of Trump’s most preposterous statements
are sometimes so tortured that they become the stuff of late-night
satire, could not bear to back the President on this one. She
told CNN that she saw “no reason not to believe” Porter’s former spouses. “In
this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women
speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury,” Conway said. “You have
photographs, and when you look at all of that pulled together, Rob
Porter did the right thing by resigning.” This was hardly a
condemnation, but, in the context of this White House and these times,
she showed, if fleetingly, common sense.

Trump’s cruel and clueless remarks are of a piece with the tactics he
has used to tamp down all his other scandals, miscues, and
embarrassments. Just as he tries to divert attention from his, and his
circle’s, errors and wrongdoing in the Russia scandal by shouting “fake
news,” by casting blame on the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, and by
deploying a congressional lackey like Devin Nunes, he diverts attention
from his own encyclopedic record of miserable behavior toward women by
casting doubt on the accusers. This is a neat trick, yet hardly
original. It has come to the point when even Trump’s closest aides know
that a reckoning is coming. It’s not going to be O.K.

via The New Yorker

February 13, 2018 at 11:32AM

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