Yesterday, a videotape of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump surfaced – a videotape that shows the business magnate using coarse, repulsive and misogynistic language towards women. The comments – made in 2005, while Trump was riding with Billy Bush on an Access Hollywood van en route to Trump’s Days of Our Lives cameo appearance – disgustingly glorify rape culture, in that Trump boasts about his relationship with women and his attempts to seduce and fondle women.
Yeah, I don’t feel like repeating his comments in this blog. NPR.org has a nice in-depth story about the candid comments. Go there if you want to read and hear his statements.
A few things.
First, I don’t care if Donald Trump is talking to three people on a private bus or three thousand people in a rally. These are boasts from someone who seems proud of himself for his carnal conquests; imagining himself as a modern day Don Juan or Rudolf Valentino. This is a man who is trying to achieve the highest office in the United States – the Presidency. And yet here’s another example of his candid and vulgar comments, which show the real side – and, in fact, the really seamy side – of Trump. Not “The Donald.” Not “The Trumpster.” More like a fratboy from Tappa Kegga Bru who wants to sample the wares of the I Felta Thi sorority. Urgh.
And Billy Bush is not blameless, either. At no point during the video does Billy Bush even suggest that Donald Trump is wrong for his comments or his braggadocio. In fact, it sounds as if Bush is actually admiring Donald Trump’s boasts, and gleefully adding a few of his own. Classless.
Then again, after the reveal of the video, Trump made a statement – first, saying that Bill Clinton had said worse things to him on the golf course (yeah, sure, whatever), and then he went for the apology-that-isn’t-an-apology – “I apologize if anyone was offended.”
Mr. Trump… sit down for a second.
Listen to me.
What you said was hurtful and offensive and reprehensible, and it doesn’t matter if you said in 2005 or in 1985 or yesterday. Saying “I apologize if anyone was offended” is like saying, “Well, if you found fault with what I said, well, sucks to be you. Sorry you didn’t get the joke. Sorry you didn’t understand the definition of satire. Sorry you get easily offended by locker room humor.” It also pins the onus for the offense on the victim, rather than on the perpetrator. It’s like saying it’s the victim’s fault that they were offended by your comments.
I can speak from experience. I’ve screwed up many times in my 53 years on this planet. And when I’ve screwed up, I’ve apologized. Here’s you you apologize. You start out with, “I’m sorry that I hurt you.” Or, “I’m sorry for what I said, I must make amends.” And you show, by your actions and your deeds, that you are ashamed of what you said / did / caused, and that you want to make things right in the future. If the other party accepts your apology, you move on. If they don’t, well, then that’s the consequence of offense. You can’t un-ring a bell, you can’t un-break a plate.
You’re not apologizing FOR someone. You’re apologizing TO someone. I know it’s hard for you to apologize for anything – heck, to listen to you on the campaign trail, it seems as if you can do no wrong, that your ideas are perfect, that your concepts are impeccable.
Yet when most people make mistakes, they apologize. They atone for the failure. They say, “I messed up. I’m sorry. I will learn from this horrible moment and try to be a better person.”
But here’s something, Mr. Trump. Something to think about and grasp and comprehend.
This year, on the evening of October 11, and continuing throughout October 12, is the holy day of Yom Kippur. This is the Jewish day of atonement, one of the most sacred and important days on the calendar. Even if you’re not Jewish, the day can still hold personal meaning and importance. You don’t have to be Jewish to ask for forgiveness on this day. Call someone whom you’ve wronged and tell them that you’re sorry. Tell them that you’re sorry that you caused them pain. Not “I’m sorry if you were hurt.” You caused the anguish, apologize for yourself.
And just because you’ve said “I’m sorry,” it’s not an automatic thing that the person you hurt will forgive you. They might say, “Yes, I forgive you,” but that’s not a reset button. That doesn’t give you a free pass to offend that person again. In fact, the offended party now knows of your character and your temperament, and knows that if you’ve said or done this horrible thing one time, you certainly could say or do it again. Forgiving isn’t forgetting.
This Sunday, at your next Presidential debate, if you do anything at all… if you have one moment of clarity throughout the debate…
Take a second and apologize for your offensive comments towards women and towards minorities and towards everybody whom you have offended and insulted and blasphemed.
Take that moment and show that you are a man who is willing to atone for his mistakes and poor actions. Don’t couch the apology in weasel words and vagueness and playground statements like, “I’m sorry, but he did worse.” And don’t be the man who says, “Well, I said it and I’m sorry, but Bill Clinton did this and did that with Monica Lewinsky, blah blah blah…”
Because that’s not an apology, either. That’s just passing the blame.
Take a moment and apologize, Donald Trump.
And really mean it.
I’m not talking about acting Presidential.
I’m talking about acting like an adult.