After leaked audio revealed that Donald Trump boasted about sexually assaulting attractive women (“grab them by the pussy,” he said), many Republican elites suggested they were incredibly outraged.
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said, “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever.” House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said he was “sickened” by Trump’s comments, went on, “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.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Trump’s remarks “repugnant, and unacceptable in any circumstance.” Many other Republicans made similar statements.
But there’s one thing Priebus, Ryan, and McConnell didn’t do after Trump’s comments leaked: pull their endorsements. Not even audio in which their presidential nominee boasted about sexual assault got these party leaders to finally pull their support. (Some less well-known Republicans have, though — such as Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.)
This next paragraph would normally try to explain what these men are thinking and the political calculations they are making about how Hillary Clinton would be worse for them.
But really? This is a freaking boast about sexual assault. And part of what makes it so shocking is that it’s entirely within the realm of what we know about Trump’s character — he’s made so many downright misogynistic comments over the decades that it takes a full article to pull them all together. And he just defended some of those remarks in the past couple weeks — again insulting Rosie O’Donnell in his first debate against Hillary Clinton, and doubling down on a feud with former Miss Universe Alicia Machado over her weight.
Then again, it is this long history that we’ve all known about for months and months that makes Republican elites’ refusal to finally dump Trump so unsurprising. After all, consider just a fraction of what Trump has gotten away with so far in this campaign:
- He characterized Mexican immigrants as “rapists” who are “bringing crime” and “bringing drugs” to the US.
- He said Sen. John McCain was not a “war hero” because “he was captured.”
- He mocked a reporter with disabilities.
- He suggested that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly asked him tough questions at a debate because she was on her period.
- He proposed banning an entire religious group from entering the US.
- He has encouraged people at his campaign rallies to physically attack protesters.
- He randomly calls Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” to denigrate her claimed Native American heritage.
- He argued that a judge’s Mexican heritage was reason enough to kick him off a court case.
- He got into a public feud with the parents of a fallen military veteran — suggesting the mom didn’t speak at the 2016 Democratic convention not because it was too hard for her to talk about her dead son, but because she’s Muslim.
If Republicans didn’t fully reject Trump after any of these other comments were made or brought to light, should it really surprise us that they’re sticking by Trump after his most recently discovered horrific remarks? Apparently, GOP elites are okay with the man who’s made all sorts of racist, sexist, and otherwise bigoted comments remaining the face of the party — and, potentially, becoming the next president of the United States.