Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He clarified his position on domestic violence.

Appearing before reporters in the Oval Office today, eight days after the still-unfolding Rob Porter story first broke, Trump was asked "Why have you not spoken out against domestic violence?" and "Do you believe the women?" Trump was visibly annoyed as he responded, "I am totally opposed to domestic violence and everybody here knows that. I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that, and it almost wouldn't even have to be said. So now you hear it, but you all know it."

Whether Trump was opposed in principle to domestic violence was never really in question. Even though he has been accused under oath by his own ex-wife of a violent sexual assault during their marriage, and bragged about how being famous shields him from the consequences of grabbing women's genitals, nobody has ever attributed some kind of formal pro-abuse stance to him.

Trump's statement did not address whether he believed Porter's accusers, why he has expressed sympathy only for Porter, why Porter was apparently being considered for a promotion to deputy chief of staff in spite of the fact that the accusations were known to the White House, or why he has publicly attacked so many women who have accused political allies of his of sexual or domestic abuse.

Why does this matter?

  • Officially opposing domestic abuse, but not really caring if someone has engaged in it, is not much better than being pro-abuse.
  • How powerful or connected a man is has nothing to do with whether accusations of domestic abuse are true.
  • Trump is correct: it's extremely bad that he needs to say this out loud.