The first thing that must be said is that, as appalling as the “groping tape” shows Trump to be, it’s disappointing that this election could turn on sexual offensiveness, rather than on the substantive threat a Trump presidency poses to the nation and the world.
Trump was always easily identifiable as a person intellectually and temperamentally unsuited for the presidency. Yet the GOP leadership lined up behind him – Paul Ryan and Rance Priebus are still lined up behind him.
Now, as the GOP tries to distance itself from Trump, it’s worth emphasizing that the GOP is running for cover not for what Trump would do to country, but because of what he’d do to the Republican Party.
But what has Trump already done? He has exposed the GOP’s dog-whistle appeals to hate and fear , promoting policies that are demonstrably bad for most Republican voters and for the nation as a whole. Trump’s divisive, outrageous rhetoric has garnered support from people who were tired of the GOP whispering the same things Trump has bellowed.
The base supported a catastrophic war in Iraq. The base supports a Congress that is devoted to the interests of the 1%. The base supported Paul Ryan, a counterfeit “policy wonk” who sprinkles magic dust over budget plans that would gut Social Security and Medicare – for ideological reasons, not out of fiscal necessity.
I doubt that Rance Priebus and Paul Ryan share Trump’s contempt for women (unless they are poor women), but it is a serious mistake to suppose that they not complicit in the GOP ideology and tactics that have made Trump’s presidential candidacy a reality.