‘Fam­ily val­ues’ hypocrisy over Trump

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - Dan Ro­dricks dro­dricks@balt­sun.com

Andy Har­ris — Repub­li­can con­gress­man from Maryland, cham­pion of hu­man de­cency and fam­ily val­ues — stands by Don­ald Trump, the vul­gar­ian who bragged that his celebrity al­lowed him to kiss women with­out their con­sent and grab their gen­i­tals.

In a Face­book post over the week­end, Har­ris said he found Trump’s com­ments on the now­in­fa­mous 2005 “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” video­tape to be “wrong” — a pretty mild crit­i­cism — but im­me­di­ately de­ployed the Trump cam­paign’s ab­surd de­fense that, be­tween 20 and 38 years ago, the al­leged be­hav­ior of his Demo­cratic op­po­nent’s hus­band was much worse.

Ac­tu­ally, I’m giv­ing him more credit for clear ex­po­si­tion than he de­serves, be­cause his Face­book post is just names and words and punc­tu­a­tion marks. Here it is:

“Be­cause peo­ple are ask­ing about the Don­ald Trump video: It was wrong. But let’s not for­get: Juanita Broad­drick, Kath­leen Wil­ley, Paula Jones, Gen­nifer Flow­ers, Mon­ica Lewin­sky - Bill Clin­ton. Beng­hazi - 4 died, Iran Nu­clear Deal, Pri­vate email server - Hil­lary Clin­ton. The Supreme Court.”

That’s the world of Trump de­fend­ers: A few names, a cou­ple of buzz­words culled from right-wing ra­dio rants and Fox News, and you have what passes for co­gent ar­gu­ment. Who needs facts, in­formed per­spec­tive and com­plete sen­tences when you can just hurl some ver­bal hand grenades to ra­tio­nal­ize your sup­port of an an­gry, sex­ist know-noth­ing for pres­i­dent of the United States?

(Har­ris later is­sued a state­ment of com­plete sen­tences that touted Trump’s su­pe­ri­or­ity on eco­nomic mat­ters and na­tional se­cu­rity and ref­er­enced Hil­lary Clin­ton’s “eth­i­cal is­sues.”) This is all grotesque hypocrisy. Here’s the man who, as a state sen­a­tor in the Maryland Gen­eral As­sem­bly in 2009, went to war over the show­ing of a porno­graphic movie at the Univer­sity of Maryland. Har­ris tried to hold univer­sity op­er­at­ing funds over the planned screen­ing of “Pi­rates II: Stag­netti’s Re­venge” in the Col­lege Park stu­dent union.

He put out a state­ment: “Just be­cause some­one is on a col­lege cam­pus they do not have a right to spend the hard-earned money of Maryland’s tax­pay­ers on some­thing as detri­men­tal to our so­ci­ety as hard-core XXX pornog­ra­phy.”

His Se­nate col­leagues rolled their eyes, frowned or yawned; most did not believe the leg­is­la­ture should get into a First Amend­ment bat­tle. The Board of Re­gents took a pass on mak­ing Maryland the first state to pass a pornog­ra­phy pol­icy for its pub­lic cam­puses. Har­ris’ lonely cru­sade went nowhere.

But he put him­self on the map as a cham­pion of moral or­der. And he was elected to Congress just a year later.

Since then, Har­ris has es­tab­lished one of the most con­ser­va­tive records in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The Fam­ily Re­source Coun­cil praised him, cit­ing his stead­fast op­po­si­tion to abor­tion, to the fed­eral fund­ing of Planned Par­ent­hood and to the Af­ford­able Care Act. The FRC’s lobby gave Har­ris one of its “True Blue” awards for his “un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to stand for life, fam­ily, mar­riage, and re­li­gious lib­erty.”

Har­ris op­posed same-sex mar­riage. He op­posed mar­i­juana de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion.

In 2013, he even re­fused to reau­tho­rize the Vi­o­lence Against Women Act, a mea­sure that re­ceived rel­a­tively strong bi­par­ti­san sup­port. Har­ris ul­ti­mately voted against the ver­sion that mat­tered — the fi­nal ver­sion that ex­tended pro­tec­tions to gay, bi­sex­ual or trans­gen­der vic­tims of do­mes­tic abuse.

So, given all that, you’d think Har­ris would want to pre­serve his pro-fam­ily, pro-moral­ity, fer­vently con­ser­va­tive bona fides by re­fus­ing to en­dorse Trump. You’d think such a con­ser­va­tive con­gress­man would be self­con­scious about sup­port­ing a twice-di­vorced man who has spent a lot of time de­mean­ing oth­ers and bragged in the “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” video about feel­ing em­pow­ered to sex­u­ally as­sault women.

As Trump might say, “What do you have to lose?”

It’s a valid ques­tion for Har­ris, be­cause he ap­pears to have a lock on re-elec­tion in Novem­ber. Through re­dis­trict­ing in 2011, Democrats all but con­ceded the seat to him.

All the more rea­son for Har­ris, who orig­i­nally sup­ported the deeply re­li­gious Ben Car­son for pres­i­dent, to dis­tance him­self from the vul­gar­ian.

“Sorry, folks,” he could tell his con­stituents, “but I can­not sup­port Don­ald Trump. The Repub­li­can Party failed to pro­duce a qualified can­di­date for pres­i­dent this year, and I find the man’s words and be­hav­ior to­ward women, in par­tic­u­lar, re­pul­sive. You know me as a prin­ci­pled sup­porter of fam­ily val­ues. I hope and trust you will un­der­stand. I ap­pre­ci­ate your con­fi­dence, and I prom­ise to re­turn to Congress as your ser­vant and stead­fast sup­porter of all things de­cent and moral.”

But Har­ris doesn’t have the nerve to do even that.

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