Melania Trump: Let's face it, Billy Bush egged Donald on in that "Access Hollywood" tape

In any sex-related political scandal, it inevitably falls to the spouse to vouch for her man’s basic good character despite his lapse in judgment. That’s because, in nearly all cases, the candidate’s wife is his most prominent female surrogate. In this, though, as in so many other ways, Trump isn’t a typical candidate. It’s Ivanka, not Melania, who’s the face of the women in Trump’s life. She introduced him before his convention speech; she’s widely reported to be one of his most influential advisors, if not the most influential. If anyone was going to make a sympathetic pitch to women voters that they should forgive and forget, you’d think it would be daddy’s little girl. Admittedly, this is a very awkward subject for a daughter to address about her father, but that’s what makes it potentially effective. The campaign needs someone who can speak to the fatherly aspects of Trump, to erase the caricature that’s been painted of him by the “Access Hollywood” tape. That’s Ivanka.

Melania Trump does fine here (the full interview will air tonight on CNN), but in the end what can she really say? The idea that a billionaire celebrity felt the psychological need to impress Z-list TV host Billy Bush with his tales of swashbuckling p***y-grabbing is pitiful but it’s the best spin that’s available to her. The alternative is that Trump was matter-of-factly explaining his actual M.O. with women, which would be very, very awkward for his wife to admit, especially since it’s exactly what his various accusers point to as proof that they’re telling the truth about Trump assaulting them. “Billy Bush, bro svengali” is the better play.

By the way, Trump’s problems from the tape and the accusations stemming from it will outlive the election:

Visits to Trump-branded hotels, casinos and golf courses slipped further in September, suggesting that the Republican candidate’s tumultuous political campaign could be putting pressure on his companies.

According to new analysis by Foursquare, which looked at visits from its more than 50 million users, the share of customer traffic going to Trump-branded properties fell 16.5 percent in September compared with a year ago earlier.

The decline follows a 7.1 percent year-over-year dip in August, a 14 percent drop in July, and a 17 percent decline in June, Foursquare said.

Note: That’s September data. The “Access Hollywood” tape leaked on October 8th. His businesses were trending downward even before the nastiest stuff about him dropped.

That’s not so big a deal if he really is looking to cash in on a subscription-based online Trump TV network after the election in the manner of TheBlaze, but according to the Times, “Mr. Trump himself is said to have expressed limited enthusiasm for the idea of ‘Trump TV.'” That doesn’t surprise me. Trump is a guy who wants to be in front of the camera, not behind it. Trump TV as a populist nationalist counterweight to Fox News makes sense if you believe Trump cares above all about spreading his ideology; if you think the ideology is secondary to him, essentially an ornament to his own cult of personality, then why would he go to the trouble of starting a network to advance it? It’s Steve Bannon who’s the ideologue in Trump’s circle and who seems to prefer a backstage presence to being on-camera. It seems more likely to me that Bannon will try to start a populist network, Breitbart TV or whatever, with Trump doing a half-hour a day in programming or posting random brain farts as he sees fit, than that Trump will.