I don’t really envy Reince Priebus right now. The man has an impossible job, which is to defend the walking cavalcade of indefensible statements and actions, Donald Trump. This morning on This Week with George Stephanopolous, Priebus was asked to respond to a front page New York Times article laying out Trump’s very checkered past with women in the workplace.
Priebus’s response was almost total nonsense, but probably the best that could be mustered under the circumstances. I mean, I guess – I haven’t really placed myself in the position of what I would say if I had to defend such a man as Donald trump every day.
Rough transcript follows:
Reporter: And finally, I’m sure you’ve seen the front page of the New York Times today, the story about Trump’s relationship with women, saying, uh, talking about unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct. Do you have any doubts in your mind about Trump’s relationship with women, the way he talks about women?
Priebus: Look, I mean, these are things he’s going to have to answer for, but I also think these are things from many years ago, and I think that, you know, as Christians, judging each other is problematic, I think it’s when people live in glass houses and throw stones is when people get in trouble. And so, when Hillary Clinton, this is a classic Clinton operation, now suddenly these things are coming out, it’s not necessarily that people make mistakes, or have regrets, or seek forgiveness, it’s whether or not the person launching the charge is authentic in their own life and can actually be pure enough to make such a charge. That’s what I think most people look at when they evaluate people’s character.
There are so many problems with this answer that you hardly know where to start. I will say that I hope that someone comes up with a better response than “Christians shouldn’t be judging each other” every time someone points out that Donald Trump is a serial sexual harasser. And I will furthermore say that it’s a little… problematic that Priebus turns around in less than 20 seconds and starts judging Hillary Clinton for the exact same thing he just said people shouldn’t judge Trump for.
As a substantive matter, I also think it’s the height of naivety to suggest that people are going to dismiss sexual harassment allegations about Trump because they come from Hillary Clinton. I assume that what he really means is that they’ll take Bill Clinton’s behavior into account, which would be a great point if America hadn’t comfortably elected Bill Clinton twice.
Finally, is there really nothing better to say about Trump’s long documented history of problematic workplace behavior towards women than “this wouldn’t be an issue if those rascally Clintons hadn’t brought it up in the first place?” I mean… Hillary Clinton is running for President against Donald Trump. She’s supposed to bring this stuff up. It would be political malpractice not to. And furthermore Priebus and the gang had better get used to it because she’s going to continue to do so for the next six months virtually uninterrupted.
“Hillary’s being mean to my candidate!” isn’t really the sort of thing that will inspire people to vote for Trump… if we suppose that that’s Priebus’s goal at all.