"Now I'm gonna grab me something sweet." - Dennis Franz as Homer Simpson
"No, Mr. Simpson, that's sexual harassment! If you keep it up, I'll yell so loud the whole country'll hear!" - Movie Ashley Grant
"With a man in the White House? Not likely!" - Dennis Franz as Homer Simpson
Since last Friday when The Washington Post reported the video of Donald Trump bragging about serial sexual assault to media sycophant Billy Bush, the political press has given itself the green light to actually believe women about stories of Trump's gross behavior towards them. There's been a reporter for People, countless beauty queens, a Florida local, a receptionist, and even a women who just had the misfortune to sit next to him on a plane. As of this morning, the flow shows no signs of stopping. (Slate is keeping a an ongoing tally. I hope they don't run out of space.) It is a category-5 media shitstorm and when the dust settles the gender gap in Trump's poll numbers is going to be visible from orbit.
Perhaps the best part of all this is that Trump is imploding at the most opportune of moments. Early voting has just started, and sober people are now saying the House might be in play, which would mean something other than legislative gridlock for the next two years. But as heartening as all that is, there's a horrific reality to face that goes beyond Trump's actions. When he said, "And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.", he wasn't wrong.
Donald Trump was fifty-nine years old when that audio was recorded, he's seventy now, and there are accusations ranging from harassment to violent assault going back decades. Bill Cosby is nearly eighty years old, and once the rape accusations against him finally gained media traction two years ago, women came forward in droves. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was sixty-two in 2011 when he assaulted a maid in a New York hotel, after which a small army of other women popped up with similar allegations.
For each of those women, there are probably a dozen or more who haven't said anything publicly. And for every Trump, Cosby, and Strauss-Khan there are hundreds and thousands of other men - "stars" in their own little worlds - who've also been getting away with it for decades on campuses and in offices. And for all of those guys, there are untold numbers of fameless men who have more money or power than whatever woman happens to be in front of them, everywhere.
Despite all that . . . Donald Trump wouldn't be getting in trouble right now if he wasn't running for President. As good as it is to see his campaign and all the ugly shit it stands for going down in a Hindenburg sized fireball, amidst the glee we need to remember that this isn't about him. The attention that's caught up with him is never going to fall on most men who behave like him. For this to have meaning beyond next month's election, laws have to be changed. Social expectations must be raised. Above all else: women need to be believed far more readily than they have been up to now.
If the Democrats take the House next month, it will have been on the shoulders of all those unwilling women. And if they don't push for laws that meaningfully protect the bodies and minds of girls and women, everywhere from grade schools to board rooms, they will have committed an act of enabling and betrayal far worse than all the Billy Bushes of the world put together.
That's the deal, Democrats. If you win unified control of Congress because of grabbed asses and groped breasts, you've got to act to stop the Trumps, Cosbys, and Strauss-Khans of the world. Because if you let even this most eruptive of media volcanoes pass without action, you're just one big, collective laughing asshole on a bus. And then, despite his defeat, Donald Trump will still be right. Men like him will still be able to "do anything".