If the 2016 election were to at some future date and time be summarized, put through a formula that produces a one-hour, ripped from the headlines episode of “Law and Order,” or better yet, a black-and-white “Perry Mason,” Friday's campaign news would form a pivotal dramatic moment.
Near the start of the day came the revelation that Donald Trump continues to claim that the wrongfully convicted Central Park Five are guilty of rape and other crimes, despite being cleared by the courts. Toward the end of the day, CNN revealed a tape of a 1989 interview between Trump and former CNN show host Larry King, in which Trump said, "Of course I hate these people.” He also added, "maybe hate is what we need,” and, "I'm in favor of bringing back police forces who can do something instead of just turning their back because every quality lawyer who represents people that are in trouble, the first thing they do is start shouting police brutality, etc.”
But the day's news was not over yet. The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold published a story and video in which Trump exchanged lewd quips with entertainment news reporter Billy Bush, a member of the Bush political family. Among Trump's comments about women: "When you are a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p---y.”
If this were all put in a TV script, this is the moment that Perry Mason or Jack McCoy would stand, play the tapes, describe in detail what this tells us about Trump's thinking and say, "ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we rest our case.” The comments about women were so foul that Trump himself nearly apologized.
Likewise, anyone, anywhere, who finds themselves tempted to make reference to the so-called playing of a "race card” or the "woman card" -- a set of claims that racism and sexism are not forces actively shaping people's lives but selectively deployed tools of the manipulative — should be immediately directed to the day's campaign news.
Let the record show that campaign 2016, the contest for what may be the most powerful and important elected office in the world, is replete with both a brand of racism and sexism that is not always so overt but remains commonplace. One of the candidates has a documented history of related commentary that cannot be denied.
How do we know this? Look at Friday's campaign headlines. If you do not have a delicate constitution, read the stories, listen to the tapes. This is as clear and overt as this kind of thing gets — short of physical injury. Note that Trump, a man who cannot blame any of this commentary on the follies of youth or naivete about cameras and their capacity to record what is said, expressed the aforementioned collection of ideas freely. And they remain so commonplace that a far younger man, who came of age during what is often assumed to be a more sensitive moment in time, felt at liberty to chime in, to giggle and carry on — all while working.
What this particular day in campaign 2016 history tells us is that what is all too often dismissed as a rare outburst or outbreak of racism or sexism or ill-advised commentary remains a part of one presidential candidate's regular conversation and a common form of fun between overgrown juveniles. The culture of male braggadocio and the biases it can feed is alive and well in the United States, as of Oct. 7, 2016.
And one man is at the center of this evidence. His name is Donald Trump, the Republican Party's presidential nominee.