It is a stunning turnabout. A party that once spoke with urgency and apparent conviction about the importance of ethical leadership — fidelity, honesty, honor, decency, good manners, setting a good example — has hitched its wagon to the most thoroughly and comprehensively corrupt individual who has ever been elected president. Some of the men who have been elected president have been unscrupulous in certain areas — infidelity, lying, dirty tricks, financial misdeeds — but we’ve never before had the full-spectrum corruption we see in the life of Donald Trump.
.. And the moral indictment against Mr. Trump is obvious and overwhelming. Corruption has been evident in Mr. Trump’s private and public life,
- in how he has treated his wives,
- in his business dealings and scams,
- in his pathological lying and cruelty,
- in his bullying and shamelessness,
- in his conspiracy-mongering and appeals to the darkest impulses of Americans. (Senator Bob Corker, a Republican, refers to the president’s race-based comments as a “base stimulator.”)
Mr. Trump’s corruptions are ingrained, the result of a lifetime of habits. It was delusional to think he would change for the better once he became president.
.. Some of us who have been lifelong Republicans and previously served in Republican administrations held out a faint hope that our party would at some point say “Enough!”; that there would be some line Mr. Trump would cross, some boundary he would transgress, some norm he would shatter, some civic guardrail he would uproot, some action he would take, some scheme or scandal he would be involved in that would cause large numbers of Republicans to break with the president. No such luck. Mr. Trump’s corruptions have therefore become theirs. So far there’s been no bottom, and there may never be.
.. the Republican Party’s as-yet unbreakable attachment to Mr. Trump is coming at quite a cost. There is the rank hypocrisy, the squandered ability to venerate public character or criticize Democrats who lack it, and the damage to the white Evangelical movement, which has for the most part enthusiastically rallied to Mr. Trump and as a result has been largely discredited.
.. Mr. Trump and the Republican Party are right now the chief emblem of corruption and cynicism in American political life, of an ethic of might makes right. Dehumanizing others is fashionable and truth is relative. (“Truth isn’t truth,” in the infamous words of Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.) They are stripping politics of its high purpose and nobility.
.. A warning to my Republican friends: The worst is yet to come. Thanks to the work of Robert Mueller — a distinguished public servant, not the leader of a “group of Angry Democrat Thugs” — we are going to discover deeper and deeper layers to Mr. Trump’s corruption. When we do, I expect Mr. Trump will unravel further as he feels more cornered, more desperate, more enraged; his behavior will become ever more erratic, disordered and crazed.
Most Republicans, having thrown their MAGA hats over the Trump wall, will stay with him until the end. Was a tax cut, deregulation and court appointments really worth all this?
Having heard Trump boast on the tape about groping and kissing women without consent, this man told host Mark Halperin (oh, the irony) that the billionaire is “just like the rest of us: He likes guns, and he likes women. He had the power. He has the prestige. Why wouldn’t you take a little advantage?”
.. They probably don’t care. This adds an unusual twist to media coverage of Trump’s alleged infidelities. Most male politicians — even nonreligious ones — work to project the consummate family-man image. Disclosure of an affair often tarnishes or even shatters that image, revealing that a politician is not the person voters thought he was.
.. For example, Anthony Weiner .. John Edwards’s
.. Trump is different: He had a long history of having affairs before ever seeking political office. His affair with actress Marla Maples when he was married to Ivana Trump was a tabloid sensation. Melania Trump told GQ that Trump first sought her phone number when he was still married to Maples — at a party to which he brought a different woman as his date
.. For most of his public life, Trump’s desired image has been ladies’ man, not family man.
.. Daniels’s and McDougal’s accounts of sexual relationships, even if accurate, don’t expose anything about Trump that voters did not already know.
.. The question is not merely whether he is a cheater, but also whether he is a liar. Sleeping with a porn star and a Playboy Playmate is certainly consistent with Trump’s self-described lifestyle. His supporters might not mind such conduct, but lying — if that is what the president is doing — could be another matter. Trump never pretended to be a Puritan, but he did bill himself as a teller of hard truths and a keeper of promises.
.. Another consideration is whether Trump’s womanizing days are behind him.
.. during a period of national reckoning with sexual misconduct
.. I’ve traveled the country talking about change for America, but my travels have also changed me.”
.. If their stories were to draw out more recent claims, however, then the “changed man” narrative could unravel.
.. Coverage of Trump’s alleged affairs is not only about the president and his supposed partners. It is also about the standards of his backers.
Near the outset, Rock recalls attending a high-school orientation session for one of his daughters that promoted the kind of touchy-feely wish-based thinking that infects education these days. Noting that the kids were told, “You can be anything you want to be,” he thought, “Why are you lying to these children? Maybe four of then can be anything they want to be. But the other 2,000 better learn how to weld.” He imagines a more truth-based approach to pedagogy: “You can be anything you’re good at, as long as they’re hiring. And even then it helps to know somebody.”
.. A zero-tolerance policy for bullies? Please. When he heard about that, “Right then I wanted to take my daughter right out the school. . . . School is supposed to prepare you for life. Life has a**holes and you should learn how to deal with them as soon as possible.”
.. Rock has previously been guarded about his 2016 divorce, from his wife Malaak Compton-Rock, which was caused by his own admitted infidelity. He speaks at length about his regrets here, making a plea to put commitment first and forget about the self-actualization: “I’m talking from hell, you don’t want this s***. You got somebody you love, hold tight. That’s right, hold f***ing tight. Commit.” Being a voracious consumer of pornography didn’t help him bond with his wife either. “I was addicted to porn,” he says. “I was 15 minutes late everywhere.” When he speaks about the destructiveness of porn he sounds like Ross Douthat. “When you watch too much porn, you know what happens? You become like sexually autistic.” You develop problems relating to real people. You can no longer handle eye contact or verbal cues. “You get desensitized,” he says. “When you start watching porn, it’s like any porn’ll do. It’s like, ‘Ahh, they’re naked. Whoo-hoo!’” After far too much of this, only gratification of an extremely specific fetish would bring satisfaction.
.. I’ve never heard a woman in my life say, ‘You know, after he got laid off, we got so much closer.
The infidelity that we must concern ourselves with is called “whoring after other gods” in the Bible (see Hosea 9:1 or Amos 7:17).
.. Whenever a nation chooses to hurt the poor, oppress the stranger, mistreat the weak and corrupt the courts in the Bible, prophets accuse political leaders of public infidelity. Unlike in a marriage, such adultery is not a private matter; it must be challenged and called out in the public square.
.. Jerry Falwell, Jr., responding to critics, claimed Jesus’ teachings are about private morality, not public policy: “Jesus said love our neighbors as ourselves but never told Caesar how to run Rome,” he wrote on Twitter.
.. It’s hard to imagine someone who proclaimed the “kingdom of God” in the first century not having a vision for the transformation of society.
.. It’s hard to imagine, that is, unless your whole faith has been built upon the justification of systemic evil. Falwell’s distinctly American reading of the Bible is not new. It was passed down to him by generations of so-called Christians who learned to read the Bible in the 19th century as a text that did not condemn, but rather affirmed race-based chattel slavery... For those moral activists, the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision and the Missouri Compromise were deeply moral issues — inseparable from one’s personal relationship with God... After the Civil War, when federal troops enforced the Reconstruction amendments for a brief period in the South, slaveholder religion did not go away. Instead, it developed a way of using scripture to criticize “Northern corruption” and black political power. In a word, slaveholder religion framed the attempt to expand democracy in the 1870s as immorality... We cannot understand the “Moral Majority” that Falwell’s father helped organize to counter the policies of the civil rights movement apart from this history... This strand of slaveholder religion has always been primarily concerned with the consolidation of power and the justification of systemic injustice. The Trumpvangelicals are not forsaking their god to defend Trump. They are showing us that their god is cash, not Christ.