Way back in March, my colleague Jonah Goldberg offered the perfect description of the way Trump’s endorsers become corrupted: It’s the invasion of the body snatchers. They’ve been taken over by a hostile organism. Sure, they look the same, but, in Jonah’s words, “They’re different, somehow. They talk funny. They don’t care about the same things they used to.”
Indeed. In the last three days, we’ve heard “conservatives” loudly justify a man’s bragging about committing sexual battery as nothing more than “locker-room talk.” Even worse, we’ve heard them say — out loud — that this is just how men behave. Judging from the avalanche of pro-Trump tweets over the weekend, his supporters have reached the point of arguing that if you haven’t been around this kind of conversation you’re not a real man. Bizarrely, Laura Ingraham even suggested last night that it’s time for Republicans to put on their “big-boy pants” and get behind the nominee.
I first started playing team sports when I was in elementary school. I played in school and community basketball leagues for decades. I joined the Army eleven years ago. I served in Iraq with an all-male combat arms unit. I know “locker-room talk” better than the average person, and in all those years I’ve heard lots that is crude and crass. But I’ve never heard a man brag about assaulting a woman, grabbing her whether she wanted it or not. Typically, the man’s point was to boast about how much women wanted him. A sexual predator was a creep and a criminal. He was most definitely not wearing “big-boy pants.”
It wasn’t long ago when these same conservatives who now justify Trump and mock his critics cheered the famed American Sniper “sheepdog” speech, one of the best descriptions of a man’s duty to protect the weak and vulnerable that I’ve ever seen. Now they cheer a pathetic, old, lecherous wolf.
Perhaps the saddest part of this entire sad affair is that it makes actual victims of sexual assault little more than political pawns to be deployed or destroyed as the need arises. Years ago, Donald Trump trashed Clinton’s accusers. Now he showcases them to the nation in a transparently false show of sympathy. The Left is no better. Years ago they joined their then-ally Trump in shaming and mocking women who told terrible stories of Bill Clinton’s conduct. Now they #BelieveAllWomen, so long as that belief brings the right people to power.
The entire effect is deeply corrosive to our culture and deeply wounding to real victims. Even the Left’s minimalist morality of consent is optional, so long as the right people keep winning. Worse yet, in elevating Trump’s behavior to the level of true masculinity, a perverse version of “boys will be boys,” his defenders have walked far down the road Paul described in the book of Romans. They have become the generation that approves and applauds those who practice evil.In the days to come, I expect that more women will come forward with stories of Trump’s misconduct. There will likely be more tapes on which Trump says things that should shock decent people. But I can tell you now that to the vast majority of his online defenders it won’t matter. Nothing will matter except that they win by helping him win. Last night, Laura Ingraham said that Republicans need to be more like Democrats. The Democrats, you see, know how to rally around their dirty old men. They know how to win.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins by asking, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is simple: “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” In Trump’s GOP, the chief end of man is “winning,” taking up a cross is for suckers, and the last shall just be last. Better to reign in Washington than serve anywhere else. That’s Trump’s party, glorying in its own shame.
— David French is an attorney, and a staff writer at National Review.