October 11, 2016 12:00:36 am
The second US presidential debate lost even the semblance of civility that the spectacle might have so far maintained. Republican candidate Donald Trump threatened he would have Hillary Clinton arrested if he became president and mounted a nasty personal attack on his rival for unproven allegations of sexual assault against her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Trump’s low blows were likely an attempt to distract attention from the recently leaked video featuring his lewd talk, in which he brags about groping and molesting women.
With the 2005 tape, released by The Washington Post, the man who has been described as the textbook candidate for the modern infotainment era — and whose candidature has raised deeply troubling questions about it — may finally have crossed a line. After the tape became public, Trump has apologised, claimed he is a changed man, sought to dismiss his statements as “locker room banter”. His explanations, however, are cutting little ice even with his own party. Senator John McCain, a former Republican nominee for president, has withdrawn his support and Speaker Paul Ryan said he was “sickened by the comments”. Trump may insist the stark misogyny evident in the tape does not represent his current views, but his campaign thus far makes that far from believable. The tape is just more confirmation of the public persona of the presidential hopeful that has been on display for over a year now — apart from making sexist remarks and publicly shaming women for their bodies, he has made offensive remarks about immigrants and Muslims.
What Donald Trump calls “locker room banter” is an unacceptable level of chauvinism and misogyny from someone asking for votes to one of the highest political offices in the world. In fact, sportspersons in the US have said his language wouldn’t be permissible in their locker rooms. Trump may have gotten away with it so far, but with his own party now looking like it is abandoning him, he may have to face political consequences.
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