Donald Trump is headed for a colossal loss, but his defenders seem oblivious to the demise of their own credibility, to the extent they still have any. It’s remarkable people are making such horrifically awful arguments in his defense:
1. Why didn’t these women come forward sooner? This is classic blaming the victim. (Why didn’t the kids molested by priests come forward sooner?) Aside from the obvious barriers to raising claims against powerful people, Trump invited this on himself by insisting he respected women and by denying in the last debate that he ever engaged in the behavior he had bragged about on the “Access Hollywood” tape.
2. But you didn’t believe Bill Clinton’s accusers. This is dumb on multiple levels. Some of us choosing to side with Trump’s accusers did take Bill’s accusers’ word, despite some shaky evidence including their denials under oath. Nevertheless, Bill is not on the ballot, and if he were, you’d still be morally obligated to denounce and drop support for Trump.
3. But Hillary. . . ? The knee-jerk reaction that Hillary “destroyed” the women who accused Bill is not substantiated by the facts. There is no evidence Clinton believed at the time Bill had committed the alleged acts. (You can think this was willful ignorance, but lots of spouses deceive themselves about their mates.) Moreover, the “evidence” of threatening the women is incredibly thin. The allegation that Clinton threatened Juanita Broaddrick consists of an innocuous comment and handshake. In the case of Kathleen Willey, Hillary allegedly approved release of letters from Willey sent to Bill after the alleged incident (i.e. they were exculpatory). This is not an “attack”; it’s a common-sense reaction (aren’t Trump defenders saying refusal to make immediate claims disproves the allegations?), although it may have been evidence of her foolish willingness to believe her husband. Other rundowns on the particulars of the allegations against Hillary can be found here and here. It’s important to get away from the sweeping “everyone knows” style of accusation that comes from talk-radio hosts and others of their ilk that are not held to journalistic, let alone legal, standards.
We’ve not been shy of accusing Hillary of her own wrongdoing (making the case her conduct with regard to the server did violate the law), but if the right is going to escape from its la-la land of conspiracy-mongering, it’s time to be precise about the facts. What one suspects or gossips about with friends is not “evidence.”
4. It doesn’t matter if Trump abused women. This was the Jerry Falwell Jr. argument, which is a moral obscenity. Fortunately, at least some of the students at Liberty University are up in arms about this.
5. Trump is threatening to sue over the allegations so he’s entitled to the benefit of the doubt. This is not a court; it’s an election. Moreover, Trump usually threatens litigation when people say things he doesn’t like. We know he lies incessantly (“I’ll produce my tax returns“). If anything, we should operate under the assumption he is not telling the truth and his litigation is frivolous or won’t ever be filed.
6. We should forgive him. We don’t really care if people in their hearts forgive him, although repentance precedes forgiveness in most faiths. We still don’t have to give the presidency to an unhinged, creepy habitual liar. And frankly, if we are supposed to forgive everyone, why not Bill and Hillary?
7. You’re just for Hillary. Actually, we and many Republicans were for anyone but Trump. It’s no longer a question of who is going to win; that’s a foregone conclusion. The issue is whether a party and individuals want to be remembered for defending a moral monster. And even if those calling for Trump’s head do want Clinton as the lesser of two evils, it’s hard to argue with that assessment. They’re entitled to more credence, not less. They knew months ago he was manifestly unfit.