WASHINGTON – It should surprise no one that this presidential election – the first ever to involve a female nominee from a major party in the top spot – has devolved into a contest of man’s ultimate metaphor.
I’m not referring to a spitting competition, if you’re struggling here.
Rather, the race apparently is to determine which is the worst man on the stage – Bill Clinton or Donald Trump. Never mind that Hillary Clinton is the one running for president.
This historic struggle for dominion over a winning narrative, either one of which would be a losing proposition in a sane world, proves yet again that we dismissed Dr. Freud too soon. And, if I may add a footnote for future discussion, that women have traded their superior powers in pursuit of the lesser distinction of being equal to men.
Would that life were more complicated.
Instead, we are hostage to a comedy.
Shocked, shocked, I tell you, the people were to hear an 11-year-old recording of Trump talking dirty about women. Really? Democrats, who tolerated a president’s abuse of power with an intern and, poor Freud, a cigar that wasn’t just a cigar, couldn’t believe their ears. Republicans couldn’t believe the hypocrisy of Democrats. Tell me if you’ve heard this before.
The revelation that sent Trump supporters scurrying to protect their women’s skirts? The GOP nominee’s bragging to Billy Bush about kissing beautiful women and grabbing their privates, presumably without their consent, because that, young man, is what celebrities get to do!
No news here, folks. But speaking of weird, Republicans previously have been fine with Trump’s racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic comments – but, this p–– business won’t stand.
Meanwhile, poor Billy Bush, whose full name can’t be said too often, has been suspended from his “Today” show job because he played along, laughing at Trump’s absurd statements. Well, of course, he played along. He was a reporter for a Hollywood show at the time and this is what reporters do. They will laugh at just about anything to keep an idiot talking.
But America is rediscovering its virtue, if, as always, selectively. Morning chatterboxes at Fox News remind us, as if we could forget, that Christians believe in redemption and second chances. Trump apologized. Others have said that “actions matter more than words.” While Trump only talked about assaulting women (as far as we know), Clinton did have sexual relations with that woman, consensually, and possibly others who weren’t so inclined.
In either case, outrage is justified – and I won’t defend either man’s behavior. But a little context might be helpful in understanding these two characters.
Trump and Bill were born two months apart in 1946 into a revolutionary culture that soon would embrace a hip-swiveling crooner named Elvis Presley and Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine.
Basically, everything you need to know about Bill Clinton and Donald Trump can be found in these two mid-century icons. A fellow Southerner, Clinton saw himself as Elvis. Even now, his face sometimes betrays Elvis’ smoldering glance with the slightly curled lip. Trump, a New York City boy, was Hefner. He collected all the toys of the Playboy lifestyle – boats, planes, cars – the best of everything a gilt-mongering rich boy would seek to glam-up his sex appeal. Mar-a-Lago was his Playboy mansion. All three of his wives have been bunny quality, and Trump Tower isn’t just a tall building.
Of course, he believes that any woman would welcome his kisses. Why wouldn’t Pussy Galore be within his reach?
And then things got weirder.
Trump has dismissed his casual chat with the much-younger Billy Bush as “locker room talk.” Whereupon, offended athletes more recent to the locker room – and to a greater awareness about sexual harassment and rape – decried Trump’s insult to their integrity.
At a “news” conference before the second debate, Trump rounded up three women who shared recollections of their unwanted sexual encounters with Bill Clinton. A fourth woman condemned Hillary Clinton for serving as the court-appointed attorney in defending a man whom she accused of raping her when she was 12.
The women flanked Trump, who sat with hands neatly folded on the table, looking as pious as an acolyte about to recite the Apostles’ Creed.
Whether Hillary Clinton’s attempts to contain “bimbo eruptions” are sufficient to undermine her global role in advancing women’s rights will be a tough call only for those to whom Ken Bone’s red sweater is a hero.
As for Elvis and Hef, they are so yesterday. Personally, I never could stand either one.
Kathleen Parker’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.