President Donald Trump wants the women of America to know that he’s “very happy” women are finally coming forward to talk about their years of assault and abuse at the hands of powerful men.
During a news conference Tuesday, Trump was asked if he had a “message to women in this pivotal moment on sexual assault.”
His response, as compiled in the pool report and other accounts:
“Women are very special. I think it’s a very special time, a lot of things are coming out, and I think that’s good for our society and I think it’s very, very good for women, and I’m very happy a lot of these things are coming out. I'm very happy it's being exposed.”
It almost feels beside the point to explain why this is such an odd sentiment for this president, in particular, to express. But here goes:
- Donald Trump once bragged on a live mic that “Just grab ‘em by the pussy...when you’re a star, they let you do it.” He waved it off as just “locker room talk.”
- Donald Trump, at the time of his election to the presidency, faced 17 allegations that he had sexually assaulted, groped or harassed women throughout his decades-long career. He denied the allegations, in part, by talking about how ugly his accusers were.
- Donald Trump once pointed to a young girl and joked that “in 10 years, I’ll be dating her.”
- Donald Trump, who formerly owned the Miss Universe pageant, was accused of finding excuses to walk in on and ogle pageant contestants when they were getting dressed.
- Donald Trump made the gleeful objectification of women part of his “when you’re rich, you can have everything” shtick. For decades.
- And Donald Trump made this very comment just a few minutes after he had defended Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate accused of assaulting a 14-year-old girl: “He totally denies it. He said he didn’t happen. And, you know, you have to listen to him, also.”
In fiction, this would be described as irony. Watching it in real life, in real time, is disorienting and sickening. It feels impossible to reconcile the words coming out of the mouth of the president of the United States with everything that the public knows about his record as a human being.
In the context of politics, it’s called fake news. But the more appropriate term might be from the context of intimate relationships — when it’s called gaslighting.