Last week not one but two Trump administration officials — staff secretary Rob Porter and speechwriter David Sorensen — had to leave because of “allegations” (backed by photographs in Porter’s case) that they beat their wives — allegations that were almost certainly known while both men were working in the White House — and Trump himself stepped up, in person and on Twitter, to say that you had to see both sides because bitches be lying amirite (“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation”).
Some conservatives greeted the story with embarrassed silence; others, with an embarrassing inability to keep silent.
Trump lie-generator Kellyanne Conway went on ABC’s This Week on Sunday and gish-galloped that Trump is “an excellent boss for women, for working mothers frankly,” who has “come to the aid of women privately, whether he has secured employment for them or given them a hand up,” referring perhaps to Stormy Daniels.
At the Federalist, Melissa Langsam Braunstein found the allegations against Porter “incredibly detailed and credible,” and agreed that “no woman should ever feel trapped in a relationship with someone who is physically or emotionally abusive.” But, as regular readers of rightbloggers will know, the blame never stops with the guilty Republican: “Twenty years ago, feminists (and other liberals) circled their wagons around Clinton, believing his support for legal abortion (and other issues) was more important than his personal failings,” Braunstein wrote. “So began a widespread acceptance of the notion that someone could be good at his job, while being a flawed human being.” In other words, Rob Porter, like much else, is the poison fruit of Bill Clinton’s penis.
Also at the Federalist, David Marcus wrote that he had taught his son never to hit girls, and in doing so “had to appeal to a distinctly biological reality: that men are stronger than women.” Then he claimed that for boys, “being assertive, and being stoic…have been attacked as toxic masculinity” — no citation, unfortunately — and asked, “What if this code of masculine behavior is not a buffet, where you can pick and choose? What if all of the elements of the code are intrinsically connected?” Marcus concluded that we shouldn’t “shy away from” demanding male stoicism “for fear of cementing gender roles that some in society eschew.” So, see, Rob Porter’s not the real problem — it’s SJWs whose fear of gender roles will get your little girl beat up by guys like Rob Porter. Root causes, people!
At National Review, Jonathan S. Tobin wrote that while this and Trump’s many other debacles suggested “the incompetence of the administration and, by extension, the unfitness for office of the president” to the spoilsports in the press, “Trump’s numbers have been on the rise in the last several weeks” — his approval rating’s all the way up to 40 percent! — which Tobin attributed to “tax cuts and Trump’s rollback of Obama’s regulatory overkill.” If Mr. and Mrs. America think they might get a $1.50 raise, Trump staffers can choke their wives now and again.
Lowbrow Trumpkins did what they could. Twitter trolls circulated an old video of a young woman claiming Hillary Clinton sexually assaulted her (warning: conservative humor); Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro oddly shifted blame onto Barack Obama (“Find another scapegoat. You might want to look at the last president”).
Looking for silver linings, PJ Media’s Andrew Klavan wrote that “there is some reason to expect that this strategy — like many another Democrat attack on Trump — is going to blow up in the attackers’ faces,” because while Porter’s alleged assaults were a “minor” scandal, “unlike the Obama administration’s widespread corruption, it does not make the people more or less free.… It’s a competence foul-up. They happen.”
Klavan went on to tell readers that while all the MSM networks were talking about Porter, only Fox News was covering real and important stories like “the Obama spying scandal.” Which stood to reason, he continued, because the media’s “desire to hide the deep corruption of the Chicago-like Obama machine led the press down a dark path into willful blindness and now actual cover-up.” Shoot, maybe they convinced Porter’s ex-wives to say something to piss him off — they’re capable of anything!
Interestingly, the news from D.C. coincided with some high-profile conservative columns on what their authors seem to consider the impossible conundrum posed by the #MeToo movement: how to acknowledge the fact that women are abused by men while protecting men from the slanderous assertion that they abuse women.
At the New York Times, Bret Stephens bade readers spare a tear for Woody Allen, who had suffered “smearing” via charges by his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow that he sexually abused her. Because of those charges, Allen has suffered the loss of his career, the banning of his films, prison — ha ha, kidding, he hasn’t suffered any of that, but he has suffered in the “court of public opinion,” in some way Stephens never explained. Maybe Midnight in Paris would have won two Oscars instead of one had Farrow never opened her yap. I look forward to Stephens’s follow-up about the often-accused, never-convicted sexual assailant Donald Trump and how he’s suffered.
Stephens’s colleague Ross Douthat, meanwhile, considered how “Trump’s grotesqueries have stirred up a feminist reaction that’s more moralistic and less gamely sex-positive than the Clinton-justifying variety” — there’s that Clenis again! — and decided the real problem wasn’t the male entitlement and aggression of which women complain (Douthat’s dismissive example of which was “the controversial first-person account of being not-raped by Aziz Ansari”), but rather “porn addiction.… I think the part of the #MeToo movement that’s interested in discussing sexual unhappiness and not just sexual harassment clearly wants to talk about pornography, even if it doesn’t quite realize that yet.” See, you ladies don’t know your own minds!
Douthat closed, “It is not only decency but eros itself that waits to be regained,” as a million Times readers vomited as one.
Worst of all was Andrew Sullivan, who at New York magazine declared himself sick of all this talk about “rape culture,” “the campus Title IX sex tribunals,” and other contemporary symptoms of wokeness. “The Enlightenment principles that formed the bedrock of the American experiment — untrammeled free speech, due process, individual (rather than group) rights — are now routinely understood as mere masks for ‘white male’ power,” he lamented. Though, like Stephens with Woody Allen, Sullivan was thin on actual demonstrable harm to males, apart from people saying mean things about them on the internet, which he compared to the way “totalitarian states will strip prisoners of their clothing.” (There was a “campaign to preemptively suppress an essay” in Harper’s by the unwoke Katie Roiphe — but, um, Roiphe appeared in Harper’s anyway.)
Sullivan admitted the way Trump “has long treated women, in his words, ‘like shit,’ and bragged about it, is enough to provoke rage in any decent person,” but called for women to chill, for “anger is rarely a good frame of mind to pursue the imperatives of reason, let alone to defend the norms of liberal democracy.” If we are to maintain our Enlightenment principles, then, aggrieved women will have to take one for the team and suck it up, or maybe just suck it. I guess the effectiveness of Sullivan’s column will depend on whether ordinary women relate more to Katie Roiphe or to the two women whose misfortune it was to be married to Rob Porter.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 12, 2018