"Locker-room banter” isn't harmless, and Republican leaders are acknowledging that.
Condoleezza Rice joined the ever-lengthening list of political figures on both sides of the aisle who have condemned the comments Donald Trump made in an eleven year old video that demeaned women and seemed to describe sexual assault. She posted to Facebook late Saturday to voice her opinion that Trump should step down from his position as the Republican presidential nominee.
Rice was courted by the Trump campaign as a potential VP pick in June, but declined the role. Her chief of staff Georgia Godfry told Yahoo News at the time that Rice preferred to continue teaching political science at Stanford University to returning to the White House, where she worked for the Bush administration as Secretary of State from 2005-2009.
Unrelated to Rice, Stanford received a great deal of media attention in June after student and swimmer Brock Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting a classmate. Turner received an unusually light sentence for three felony counts of sexual assault— just six months in jail, resulting in a huge public outcry and fresh attention paid to rape culture on university campuses and at large.
Vice President Joe Biden responded to the Stanford case at the White House’s June United State of Women summit, telling men in the audience, “we’ve got to overcome this social discomfort of calling out the misogyny that happens when no women are present: the locker room talk, the bar banter, the rape jokes.”
Biden’s statement stands in sharp contrast to Trump’s defense of his remarks as “locker-room banter” of the very sort that Joe Biden condemned just a few months ago.
Today Biden responded that when Trump made comments like “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything” it “wasn’t lewd. It’s sexual assault.”
Now Condoleezza Rice has joined Biden, as well as Republican Chair Reince Priebus, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and numerous GOP senators and congressmen in speaking out against Trump’s sexist and predatory remarks.
Trump’s own vice presidential nominee Mike Pence said simply “I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.” Senator John McCain withdrew his support of Donald Trump on the basis that “his boasts about sexual assaults make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”
Even Trump’s wife Melania admitted that “the words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me.” She added that she had accepted his apology and hoped people will “focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.” It seems, though, that the general consensus is that Trump’s attitude towards women is an important issue.
The outpouring of condemnations was swift and strong, and perhaps surprising. After all, this is hardly Trump’s first foray into offensive statements, the first association he’s had with a culture of sexual harassment, or even the first time he’s been accused of sexual assault. The GOP has its own history with women to grapple with, too— in recent years Republican candidates have had trouble swaying female voters, and the party itself has been accused by Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi of waging “a war on women.”
It seems, though, that many of those who are disavowing Trump since the Washington Post released the video are heeding Biden’s advice, even if they don’t know it. “As a man, maybe [sexism] makes you uncomfortable,” Biden said at the State of Women Summit, “but if you let it pass because you wanna become of the one guys, you become an accomplice.”
Today, a long list of men and women chose not to let Trump’s “grab them by the p—y” pass.