“What a week,” Robert Costa, moderator of PBS’ “Washington Week,” sometimes begins his broadcast. But really, he could just say that every week. Another mass shooting. Another celebrity – or 10 – accused of sexual harassment. Puerto Rico still mainly without power. It’s sort of like an evil “Groundhog Day.”
President Donald J. Trumpet has been mostly silent on this. Is there too great a time difference between Asia and America for Twitter? (Hehehe.) Or was it the brief encounters with bestie President Vladdie “Rootin’ Tootin’” Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam that has spurred him to cast aside his many castigation projects to focus only on his beloved? You know what they say about those who love: They often forget all else.
As noted, it was the proverbial moment in time – a handshake, a pat on the back (Donnie), a shy smile (Vladdie). And how cute did the pair look in those matching blue Vietnamese-style shirt jackets that they wore for the class picture of APEC leaders? (This wasn’t as good as the time Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal posed at a tournament in Colombia in cowboy hats and matching book-bags but it was pretty darn close.)
It was clear that Donnie made sure he stood next to Vladdie for the photo op. This wasn’t the high-powered meet that had been expected and that aficionados of the bromance (and of human frailty) were hoping for. But hey, as Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page demonstrated in his recent Congressional testimony on Russkiegate – where it became clear that his self-importance strains to mask the fact that he is a few floors short of an observation deck – a passing greeting can be fraught with meaning.
Trumpet has been in Asia peddling U.S. arms and his “American First” approach to trade but it’s not clear who, if anyone, is lapping this up but his base. No significant deals – which would’ve been made beforehand anyway – have emerged. And it was clear from the meet with Chinese President Xi Jingping (talk about a non-bromance) that Xi holds most of the cards. He’s the ascending star. And you have to figure that part of Trump’s fascination with so many of the world’s strongmen – he’s still shilling that canard that lover boy didn’t meddle in the U.S. elections – is that he wishes he had their absolute power.
But wishes aren’t reality. (If they were, I would’ve married Kevin Costner years ago, divorced him when he tired of me and be sitting right now by the pool of my Beverly Hills estate, writing cheap novels and watching my pool boy Raul.)
In truth, Trumpet is in big trouble with a capital “T” at home where the recent election was a repudiation of him and the Repubs – and not just because the Dems, no longer in such disarray, delivered not so surprisingly in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races. (I like the seasonally inspired poster who wrote on a Washington Post blog “Yes, Virginia, there is a Sanity Clause”.) A Sikh candidate won in Jersey. A Liberian candidate won in Montana – Montana. Eight transgender candidates won. Women came out to vote. Minorities came out to vote. Millennials came out. This was the old Obama coalition in action, and it was a glorious thing to see.
Unless you were Steve Bannon. If it was a bad week for Trump, it was a worse week for him. His guy, Roy Moore, running for the Senate in a special election in Alabama Dec. 12, is on the ropes after allegations in WaPo that he molested a 14-year-old girl when he was in his 30s and also “dated” other teenage girls. His response was he didn’t do it or he didn’t do it “generally.”
Defenders note that Mary, teen mother of Baby Jesus, married Joseph, an older carpenter. First of all, that’s not a defense. Secondly, we don’t know the difference in Mary’s and Joseph’s ages historically. And most important, I bet Baby Jesus is saying, “Stay away from my mama.”
Moore is the latest in a litany of “important” men to be accused of sexual harassment/assault. The other day, The New York Times had five articles on men who were off to sex rehab, begging forgiveness or claiming amnesia on the subject. They got more press than the blockbuster “Michelangelo” exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art that I’m dying to see. It’s depressing.
Look, it’s not a question of more women in power – worthy though that goal is. I’ve worked at companies in which women held significant positions, and women were still harassed. Power is about the maintenance of power and the attainment of more. Often female bosses just mimic male ones.
No, sexual harassment won’t change until women rise up, as they’re now doing; band together, which they haven’t always done; and recognize once and for all that men aren’t the center of the universe and, in any event, they don’t have to be the center of theirs – which would be an Everest of an achievement. Whether you are 2 or 102, you should be able to say “no,” to a man and know that women have your back.
I have your back.