Talk about “fortuitous timing” if you happen to be a Democrat! Last night Allahpundit wrote about the latest October surprise which was unleashed on Donald Trump in the form of an Access Hollywood hot mic conversation involving The Donald and Billy Bush. It was all the buzz on social media and threatened to swamp the ongoing coverage of Hurricane Matthew on cable news. Everyone was wondering if something this potentially bruising would elicit an actual apology from Trump, and more than ten hours after the release – in fact close to midnight – the GOP nominee released a video on Facebook with his mea culpa. (ABC News)
Caught on tape making shockingly crude comments about a married woman he tried to seduce, Donald Trump declared in a midnight video, “I was wrong and I apologize.” Yet even as he did so, he claimed the astonishing recording was “nothing more than a distraction” and argued his words were not nearly as egregious as former President Bill Clinton’s marital affairs.
“I’ve said some foolish things,” the Republican presidential nominee said in a taped apology posted on his Facebook page early Saturday morning. “But there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women.”
Turning to his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Trump accused her of having “bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated” her husband’s “victims.”
Most of the cable news outlets are only showing excerpts, so here’s the entire thing via YouTube. It’s only about 90 seconds long.
Is it going to satisfy any of Trump’s critics? Obviously not, but that’s not the point of an October surprise. Trump actually uttered the phrase, “I was wrong and I apologize,” but nobody looking to sink Trump’s campaign was ever interested in an apology no matter how much they were demanding one in advance. If they had been, you’d see a line of them queuing up this morning to say, well okay then. Just make sure you don’t do it again.
Where did the tape come from? There are already long, scholarly pieces being written on the subject. The phrases I’ve heard repeated most often this morning on both CNN and MSNBC are variations of, a tape stored on a dusty old shelf at NBC. Give me a break. This is part of an oppo file which has been out there since last year and held in reserve until the timing was right to inflict maximum damage and distract from any other bad news about Clinton. And given the decades that Donald Trump spent in the limelight giving interviews such as this one, going on the Howard Stern show and dealing with everyone from Hollywood, New York and Washington glitterati circles there are probably enough such pieces to drop one every three days from now through the election. You can expect to see plenty more.
So I suppose the two main questions are whether or not this would be enough to chase Trump out of the race (as some are suggesting) and if it will turn off enough additional voters to lock him out of the White House. The answer to the first question appears to be an obvious and resounding “no.” The second question is still up in the air. Is anyone truly surprised that Trump would engage in that sort of locker room discussion? I know I wasn’t and among those who were already firmly supporting him I’m guessing this sort of thing is baked into the cake. When we were chatting about this subject on Twitter last night I freely admitted that I’d engaged in worse talk as a young man. But to be fair, it was the seventies and I was in the Navy. The old saying about having a mouth like a sailor didn’t enter our lexicon out of pure fiction.
But beyond that, there are plenty of non-sailors out there who have done the same and I hear worse from younger men I know to this day. I can assure you that there are plenty of men out there expressing shock and disgust today who are uncomfortably wondering who might recall conversations they had as younger men. The main difference is that most of us didn’t have people with cameras and microphones following us around all the time. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a significant number of people (particularly those without a Y chromosome who typically aren’t exposed to such chatter) who will be honestly put off by this and perhaps even change their vote. This was a bad news cycle for Trump and there’s no getting around it.
Going back to the whole convenient timing thing, we should also note that a new batch of Wikileaks documents dropped last night which contain all sorts of goodies about Hillary Clinton, including outtakes from some of her paid speeches to Wall Street. (We’ll have more on that later today.) Is anyone leading their cable news broadcasts with it this morning? Nope. There’s barely a peep. You can write all that off to coincidence if you like, but this sort of “accident” is a rare beast in American politics. All we can really say to the Clinton team at this point is… well played.