At a political rally this week in Mississippi, the president of the United States of America, the most powerful man in the world, decided that for fun’s sake, it would be a good idea to publicly mock and ridicule a woman with no ability to defend herself against him, accusing her of ruining a good man’s life.
As Trump stood there and stripped Christine Blasey Ford of her dignity, making fun of all the things that she could not remember of the worst night of her life, the crowd roared with laughter; as Trump stood behind his bully pulpit, adorned with the presidential seal, he publicly humiliated Ford.
Later, as I watched the tape of Trump’s performance, I could not help but think of the moment in Ford’s Senate testimony when she was asked about what she did remember of that night, what remained indelible in her mind about the attack all these years later.
“The laughter,” she said quietly. “The laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense. They were laughing with each other. I was underneath one of them while the two laughed — two friends having a really good time with one another.”
Thirty-six years later, that laughter continues.
In that speech, Trump described this as a country in which sexual assault and harassment aren’t major problems; the real problem, the injustice that most deserves our outrage, is the onslaught of false allegations raised by women whom I guess are just seeking attention, or trying to make money, or just finding an innocent target for their female bitterness.
“This is an important time for our country,” Trump warned the crowd. “This is a time when your father, when your husband, when your brother, when your son” could be destroyed on the basis of false allegations, calling it a “damn sad situation.”
Never once did Trump express the slightest sympathy for women who have been brutalized or humiliated or forced to compromise themselves by men in power. As always, he reserved his deepest sympathy for himself. “I’ve had many false accusations,” he complained. “I’ve had so many, and when I say it didn’t happen, nobody believes me.”
Listening to Donald wallow in self-pity, I was reminded that of all the credible allegations of assault lodged against him, the most credible came from the most impeccable source imaginable, the one person above all others who knows the truth:
“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the (expletive). You can do anything.”
One final note: In his blockbuster book “Fear,” Bob Woodward reports a conversation between Trump and “a friend who had acknowledged some bad behavior toward women.”
“You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women,” Trump chides his friend. “If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead. That was a big mistake you made.”
“You didn’t come out guns blazing and just challenge them. You showed weakness. You’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve got to push back hard. You’ve got to deny anything that’s said about you. Never admit.”
That’s what Trump did once again, on a Tuesday night in Mississippi. He took a woman who had dared to tell her truth, and he held her up to national ridicule and humiliation. He used her for entertainment value, and as warning to other women everywhere about what might happen should they too get a bit uppity, should they too forget that “when you’re a star, you can do anything.”