Opinion |

In Obscene Attack on Kavanaugh Accuser, Trump Reverts to His Truly Obnoxious Self

The president savaged Christine Basley Ford to offset the damning New York Times report and to whip up his base before the November elections

Chemi Shalev
Chemi Shalev
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U.S. President Donald Trump rallies with supporters during a "Make America Great Again" rally in Southaven, Mississippi, U.S., October 2, 2018.
U.S. President Donald Trump rallies with supporters during a "Make America Great Again" rally in Southaven, Mississippi, U.S., October 2, 2018. Credit: JONATHAN ERNST/Reuters
Chemi Shalev
Chemi Shalev

Just when you think Donald Trump can’t go any lower, he digs deeper into his bottomless pit of slander and slime. Just when you start to believe Trump’s reaction to the Brett Kavanaugh imbroglio has been relatively restrained, he lets loose with an ugly, demeaning tirade against Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Basley Ford. Just when you're convinced that you’re all out of outrage, you find yourself once again indignant and incensed that this vulgar, amoral and misogynistic man is President of the United States.

The first and immediate assumption is that Trump’s vile bile against Ford at a Tuesday night rally in Mississippi is connected to the concurrent publication of the momentous New York Times exposure of his blatant lies about the wealth he inherited from his father, Fred, and the potential tax crimes he may have committed in acquiring it. If there was a Nobel Prize for Journalism – and perhaps there should be – the Times’ meticulous and detailed report would justify giving it the inaugural award. The Times deserves a medal of valor for the newspaper’s courageous willingness to stick it directly, and potentially dangerously, to the Commander in Chief. It stands to reason that Trump’s intent was to divert attention away from the Times’ 13,000 damning words. Judging by Wednesday morning’s headlines – including this column - he certainly seems to have achieved at least partial success.

>> Analysis: Despite Flake, the Kavanaugh-Ford hearings showcase the death of truth and decline of democracy in Trump’s America ■ >> Opinion: Trump, Kavanaugh and the rape culture of the American jock ■ Analysis: Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony Is a historic achievement for the #MeToo movement

It might also be the case that Trump was simply being his own obnoxious self, using his delinquent mouth to tear down the facade of measured reaction imposed on him by advisers and spin doctors. Whenever Trump seems restrained or contrite - as he was, for example, in his so-called “apology” in October 2016 for the infamous “grab ‘em by the pussy” Access Hollywood tape - he looks like a hostage deadpanning his kidnappers’ message. It’s a look that Trump can’t keep up for more than a few hours, let alone the many days that have passed since Ford's accusations first surfaced, without getting antsy.

So he used the first venue in which he found himself unfettered and unmonitored – and possibly apprised of the probable inconclusive findings of the FBI investigation into Ford's accusations - to let loose about what he really thinks. And what he really thinks is that Ford’s allegations of a sexual assault that occurred 36 years ago are so ridiculous that they warrant a reprise of his shocking November 2015 imitation of physically impaired New York Times reporter Sergei Kovaleski. Given the fact that Trump was elected President despite the pussy tape, the shameful mimicking of a disabled reporter and the endless list of his other scandals and provocations, he may believe, perhaps correctly, that he can get away with dissing Ford as well.

Trump went on to add insult to indecency by making clear that Ford’s allegations of Kavanaugh’s attempted rape in high school didn’t make him any more sympathetic to sexually assaulted females or empathetic to the hell they are forced to endure when they decide to tell of their travails. Trump certainly wasn’t bothered by the “rape culture” he encouraged with his Access Hollywood tape or by the “white male privilege” flaunted by the 11 Republican men on the Senate Judicial Committee.

On the contrary, what troubles Trump is that "It's a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of,” as he told Mississippians. He had nothing to say about the men - young, middle-aged or old, like him - who are guilty more often than not but escape unscathed and unpunished for their crimes because their accusers risk exposure to the kind of jeering disdain with which Trump enthused his cheering fans in Mississippi.

After all, Trump himself has been accused by close to 20 women of various acts of harassment, molestation and general debauchery. In his narcissistic mindset, however, he is the victim, unfairly maligned, and they are the perpetrators, out to besmirch what he seems to think is his good name. By sticking up for Kavanaugh and by publicly undermining Ford’s account Trump, as always, is looking out for number one.

And then there is the possibility that Trump’s offensive assault on Ford was actually a calculated political maneuver in advance of the November 6 Congressional elections. Faced with a possible trouncing by Democrats, at least in the House of Representatives, Trump decided to double down on the divisive formula that brought him to the White House in the first place.

Rather than try to win back moderate Republicans, especially women, who are appalled by the Kavanaugh affair and may jump the GOP’s ship in the Congressional elections, Trump is actually pushing them even further away, in an effort to whip up his core base – white men – and the substantial number of women who stand with them, against their own gender. So he threw his right-wing base the kind of red meat it cherishes.

By casting doubt on Ford’s testimony, Trump cements the Lindsey Graham narrative of a nefarious Democratic/liberal conspiracy against Kavanaugh, and, by extension, against himself. By invoking the plight of supposedly persecuted young men, he is reminding his fans of his pledge to “Make America Great Again,” which apparently includes a return to the days when men were men and girls were there to make them feel like it. By whipping up his base to frenzy, by catering to their paranoid delusions, by insinuating that Kavanaugh is just another victim of the Criminal Deep State and its liberal agents, Trump is trying to bridge the pronounced gender and enthusiasm gaps between Democrats and Republicans detected by pollsters in recent weeks. So he deploys the same kind of abusive rhetoric against his long list of enemies - everyone from immigrants to intelligence officers – in order to put his base on notice that the liberal/minorities are at the gate, and Ford is their Trojan horse.

Trump’s gambit seems like a losing proposition. His base, even when extended to its maximum potential, is hardly enough to stop a Democratic wave comprised of dedicated Trump-haters and reinforced by moderate disillusioned Republicans. On the other hand, this is more or less what all the experts said on the eve of the Presidential Elections, and the rest is the history that has brought America down to Trump’s obscene, women-hating hell.

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