Only the will­fully blind are shocked by Trump

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - EJ Dionne Columnist E.J. Dionne is syn­di­cated by The Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group.

Columnist E.J. Dionne says the can­di­date's recorded vul­gar com­ments about women should sur­prise no one.

What is truly shock­ing is that Don­ald Trump’s Repub­li­can en­ablers are shocked.

True, Trump’s com­ments in the 2005 video made pub­lic Fri­day by The Wash­ing­ton Post are shock­ingly vile, as­ton­ish­ingly dis­gust­ing and dis­grace­fully open about the free­dom Trump felt (be­cause he was a “star”) to grope and, let’s face it, as­sault women.

But while the in­ves­tiga­tive re­porters de­serve our thanks for fully ex­pos­ing Trump, no one needed to rely on their work to know who he is. Only po­lit­i­cal op­por­tunism al­lowed lead­ing Repub­li­cans — from House Speaker Paul Ryan to Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­man Reince Priebus on down — to pre­tend Trump was an ac­cept­able pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee.

In­deed, it should of­fend and en­rage Mex­i­can-Amer­i­cans, AfricanAmer­i­cans, Amer­i­can Mus­lims and ev­ery­one else Trump has at­tacked that none of these prior of­fenses had turned the Repub­li­can es­tab­lish­ment away.

Birtherism? No prob­lem. The ver­bal as­saults on the Gold Star Khan fam­ily? Bad, but not enough to jus­tify re­scind­ing en­dorse­ments. Mex­i­cans as “rapists”? This was just “that Mex­i­can thing,” ex­plained Mike Pence. The trash­ing of a for­mer Miss Uni­verse for gain­ing weight? We can get by that, too, they de­cided.

But now there’s au­dio catch­ing Trump de­scrib­ing women in the most vul­gar and ob­scene lan­guage. For Trump to try to jus­tify this as “locker room ban­ter” is an in­sult to the ath­letes who pop­u­late locker rooms.

Maybe the Repub­li­cans who are now out­raged and pulling their en­dorse­ments have done their po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions. They fig­ured they could write off African-Amer­i­cans, Mus­lims and Lati­nos, but could not pos­si­bly of­fend all women, too. Per­haps they re­mem­bered the things they have said about “fam­ily val­ues” and the im­por­tance of “char­ac­ter” and re­al­ized they just couldn’t roll with this one.

But if they cared about “char­ac­ter” and “fam­ily val­ues,” Trump had al­ready made clear that these meant noth­ing to him. This is a guy who bragged about sleep­ing with (ter­ri­bly Vic­to­rian of me, I know, to use that term) mar­ried women.

As for char­ac­ter, the brave and good Repub­li­cans of the #Nev­erTrump move­ment have been cit­ing chap­ter and verse about what a hor­rific man this is — some­one who walked away from his debts, of­ten failed to pay the peo­ple who worked for him, de­meaned John McCain be­cause he was a prisoner of war, and glee­fully gave his op­po­nents be­lit­tling nick­names.

Sadly, sick­en­ingly, even those whom Trump had be­smirched fell into line. McCain, who has so much to be proud of, en­dorsed Trump. He is now re­duced to say­ing that Trump “alone” should pay the price for this episode. His mean­ing: Please don’t pun­ish the party that en­abled and nom­i­nated Trump or the can­di­dates who have car­ried his wa­ter. Ted Cruz — aka Lyin’ Ted — caved in and sup­ported the man who had de­famed Cruz’s fa­ther and wife.

And what about the de­vout con­ser­va­tive Chris­tians who claim to care about how peo­ple live their lives and then em­braced this de­spi­ca­ble man? The con­ser­va­tive writer David French put it well Fri­day evening. “Hon­estly,” he tweeted, “pro-Trump evan­gel­i­cals, in fu­ture elec­tions, don’t try to ar­gue that char­ac­ter mat­ters. Just don’t.”

Even when Ryan was re­buk­ing Trump, he seemed to be look­ing for an es­cape hatch. “I hope Mr. Trump treats this sit­u­a­tion with the se­ri­ous­ness it de­serves and works to demon­strate to the coun­try that he has greater re­spect for women than this clip sug­gests.”

Re­ally, Mr. Speaker? Do you hon­estly think Trump can now demon­strate his “re­spect for women” and that the video you blandly san­i­tized as “this clip” is some­how an aber­ra­tion?

There must be ac­count­abil­ity here for an en­tire party that was com­plicit in the rise of Trump and tried des­per­ately to pre­tend he was fit for our na­tion’s high­est of­fice.

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