Ethics & Morality

Which is worse in a presidential candidate – dirty words about sexual assault or conspiring to conceal rape?

Donald Trump is a vain, obnoxious, arrogant, lying, bombastic sleazebag. Or, as they say across the pond, “an asshole”. Everybody knows it, or seems to. So when a decade-old recording surfaces in which he boasts about his ability to treat women like boneless pieces of meat, it really comes as no surprise that he blusters: “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the p***y. You can do anything.”

This is not a soap opera. Grabbing someone’s genitals (however breezily) without their consent is sexual assault. The Republican nominee for President not only boasts about his celebrity licence to do this: he appears to condone the behaviour. His fame and vast wealth give him power: women exist to be kissed and groped. He can do with them exactly as he wants; as his incontinent hormones dictate. This is a truly awful attitude in a presidential candidate: it is bragging about ravishment; rejoicing in the heroism of carnal abuse.

Hillary Clinton is an appealing, intelligent, discerning, honest, trustworthy politician. Or, as they say across the pond… O, hang on.

Sorry, news just in:

..Clinton began kissing her. She resisted Clinton’s advances, but he “pulled her back onto the bed and forcibly had sex with her.” During the alleged attack, he bit her lip. When he saw that it was bruised and swollen, she claims he said, “You better get some ice on that.” Then he “put on his sunglasses and walked out the door.”

It’s okay: this is Bill, not Hillary. It is grotesque to attempt to smear or blame the wife for the sins, vices and crimes of the husband. Except to observe that Bill Clinton appears to have something of a track record of sexual assault; of using his fame, wealth and power to kiss, grope or rape women. You may dismiss one allegation, or maybe even two. But five, seven or nine? And Hillary Clinton not only allegedly knows about these assaults, she is an enabler of her husband’s predatory sexual abuse.

“Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported,” she tweeted a year ago. Except when they’re victims of her husband? “BC (Bill Clinton) raped me,” tweeted Juanita Broaddrick. “Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me,” she said at an event. This isn’t some power-infatuation episode of Dallas or Dynasty: there were five witnesses to the aftershocks of the rape. Certainly, an allegation is not proof. And in politics, vast legions of grudges conspire to burst a reputation. But “every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed..” And Juanita Broaddrick is certain that Hillary Clinton is involved in the cover-up of sexual assault:

“(Hillary) came directly to me as soon as she hit the door. I had been there only a few minutes, I only wanted to make an appearance and leave. She caught me and took my hand and said ‘I am so happy to meet you. I want you to know that we appreciate everything you do for Bill.’ I started to turn away and she held onto my hand and reiterated her phrase — looking less friendly and repeated her statement — ‘Everything you do for Bill’. I said nothing. She wasn’t letting me get away until she made her point. She talked low, the smile faded on the second thank you. I just released her hand from mine and left the gathering.”

What if this were a bishop taking a teenage boy by the hand, staring into his eyes, and saying in a low voice, with a wink: “Thank you for everything you do for Father John”? What crime would this bishop be committing? What manipulative coercion or threat is evidenced? What abuse of power and authority? What offence against God and the Church? Is there anything which might render him, in your moral judgment, unfit for high office?

Donald Trump’s comments are not only lewd and inappropriate; they are disgusting, repugnant and degrading of all women. His vices and sins are made known; his judgment and humiliation made public. Hillary Clinton’s comments are… well, they weren’t taped and leaked; they are hidden and conjectured, so you decide. Church leaders are endorsing both; Christians are voting for both. Everyone wants to claim the Bible, but God is not mocked: ‘For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known‘ (Lk 12:2); ‘..and be sure your sin will find you out‘ (Num 32:23).